Harald V of Norway
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Harald V of Norway

Harald V
Harald V en 2018.jpg
King of Norway
Reign17 January 1991 - present
Benediction23 June 1991[1]
PredecessorOlav V
Heir apparentHaakon
Gro Harlem Brundtland
Thorbjørn Jagland
Kjell Magne Bondevik
Jens Stoltenberg
Erna Solberg
Born (1937-02-21) 21 February 1937 (age 82)
Skaugum, Akershus, Norway
Sonja Haraldsen (m. 1968)
FatherOlav V of Norway
MotherPrincess Märtha of Sweden
ReligionChurch of Norway
SignatureHarald V's signature

Harald V (Norwegian: ['h?r?l]; born 21 February 1937) is the current King of Norway, having ascended the throne upon the death of his father King Olav V on 17 January 1991.

Harald was the third child and only son of King Olav V and Princess Märtha of Sweden. He was second in the line of succession at the time of his birth, behind his father. In 1940, as a result of the German occupation during World War II, the royal family went into exile. Harald spent part of his childhood in Sweden and the United States. He returned to Norway in 1945, and subsequently studied for periods at the University of Oslo, the Norwegian Military Academy and Balliol College, Oxford.

In 1957, following the death of his grandfather, Haakon VII, Harald became crown prince. A keen sportsman, he represented Norway in sailing at the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympic Games, and later became patron of World Sailing. Harald married Sonja Haraldsen in 1968, their relationship having initially being controversial due to her status as a commoner. The couple had two children, Märtha Louise and Haakon. Harald succeeded his father as king in 1991, with Haakon becoming his heir apparent.

Early life and education


Prince Harald with his mother Crown Princess Märtha.

Prince Harald was born at the Skaugum estate and was baptized in the Royal Chapel of the Royal Palace in Oslo on 31 March 1937 by Bishop Johan Lunde. His godparents were: his paternal grandparents King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway; his maternal grandparents Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg of Sweden; King Leopold III of Belgium; Queen Mary and King George VI of the United Kingdom; and Crown Princess Ingrid of Denmark. His parents already had two daughters, Princess Ragnhild and Princess Astrid.

Second World War

Prince Harald as a child

In 1940 the entire royal family had to flee Oslo because of the German invasion. It was deemed safer for the family to split up. The King and Crown Prince Olav would remain in Norway and the Crown Princess was to make her way to Sweden with the three children. The latter party reached Sweden on the night of 10 April, but although Crown Princess Märtha was Swedish-born, they encountered problems at the border station. According to Princess Astrid and others who were present, they were admitted only after the driver threatened to ram the border gate. Another account does not describe the escape so dramatically.[3] However, when the King and Crown Prince inquired of Swedish foreign minister Christian Günther whether they could sleep one night in Sweden without being interned, they were denied.[3]

Harald spent the following days in Sälen before moving to Prince Carl Bernadotte's home in Frötuna on 16 April. On 26 April the group moved to Drottningholm in Stockholm. King Gustaf V has been accounted to have had an amicable relationship with his Norwegian guests, but the topic of the war in Norway was not to be raised. However, influential Swedish politicians, including Minister of Justice Westman, wanted the Crown Princess and Prince Harald to be sent back to Norway so he could be proclaimed King by the Germans.[3][4] After the King and Crown Prince had to leave Norway on 7 June they felt Sweden might not be the best place for the rest of the family, and started planning for them to go to the United States. On 17 August the Crown Princess and her children left for the United States from Petsamo, Finland, aboard the United States Army transport ship American Legion.[3]

Harald and his mother and sisters lived in Washington, D.C. during the war,[5] while his father, Crown Prince Olav, and his grandfather, King Haakon, stayed in London with the Norwegian government-in-exile. One of the notable events he remembers from that time is standing behind Franklin D. Roosevelt when he was sworn in for his fourth term on the South Portico of the White House in 1945. Such childhood experiences are reflected in a trace of an American accent when he speaks English.[6] The Doris Kearns Goodwin book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the Home Front in World War II contains a picture of the King (then Prince) playing with FDR's dog, Fala, on the North Lawn of the White House in 1944.

Harald visited Norwegian servicemen training in the United States. The prince also made visits outside America, travelling north to visit Norwegian personnel at the training base "Little Norway" in Ontario, Canada. He attended The White Hall Country School from 1943. Prince Harald returned to Norway with his family at the war's end in 1945.


In the autumn of 1945 he was enrolled in third grade of Smestad skole as the first member of the royal family to attend public school. Amidst this, in 1954 tragedy struck as he lost his mother to cancer. The Crown Princess's death was a tremendous loss for him and his family as well as for Norway,[7] and he named his daughter Märtha in honour her memory. Four years later in 1958 he would lose his maternal grandmother Princess Ingeborg of Denmark.

Crown prince

In 1955 he graduated from Oslo katedralskole and in the autumn of that year, Harald began studies at the University of Oslo. He later attended the Cavalry Officers' Candidate School at Trandum, followed by enrollment at the Norwegian Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1959. Harald attended the Council of State for the first time on 27 September 1957 and took the oath to the Constitution of Norway on 21 February 1958. In the same year, he also served as regent in the King's absence for the first time.

In 1960, Harald entered Balliol College, Oxford where he studied history, economics and politics.[6] He was a keen rower during his student days at Oxford and was taught to row by fellow student and friend Nick Bevan, later a leading British school rowing coach. In 1960, he also made his first official journey abroad, visiting the United States in connection with the fiftieth anniversary of the American Scandinavian Foundation. An avid sailor,[8] Harald represented Norway in the yachting events of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 1964,[9]Mexico City in 1968,[6] and Munich in 1972. The Crown Prince carried the Norwegian flag at the opening parade of the 1964 Summer Olympics.


Royal wedding photograph, 1968

Harald married a commoner, Sonja Haraldsen, at Oslo Domkirke in Oslo on 29 August 1968. The pair had dated for nine years and were only allowed to marry when Harald gave his father the ultimatum that if he was not allowed to marry Sonja he would not marry at all, which would have ended the reign of his family and the Norwegian monarchy, as Harald was the sole heir to the throne. The couple have two children, Princess Märtha Louise and Crown Prince Haakon, heir apparent to the Norwegian throne.


On the death of his father on 17 January 1991, Harald succeeded automatically to the Norwegian throne. He became the first Norwegian-born monarch since Magnus VII abdicated in 1343, a gap of 648 years. Harald is the sixth King of Norway to bear that name, and the first in 855 years. The five other kings who have borne the name are Harald Fairhair, Harald Greycloak, Harald Bluetooth, Harald Hardrada, and Harald Gille. Harald Bluetooth is usually not given a number in the Norwegian list of kings, therefore Harald is 'only' numbered as Harald V. King Harald made the decision to use his grandfather's royal motto, "Alt for Norge". The King also chose to continue the tradition of royal benediction, a tradition that had been introduced with his father, and was consecrated together with Queen Sonja in the Nidaros Cathedral on 23 June 1991.[10]

The reign of King Harald has been marked by modernization and reform for the Norwegian Royal family. The King has cooperated closely with Queen Sonja and the Crown Prince in making the royal household more open to the Norwegian public and the Norwegian media. King Harald's decision to accept two more commoners into the royal family, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Ari Behn, has been interpreted as a sign of modernization and adjustment.[11][12] Under King Harald and Queen Sonja's leadership, comprehensive renovation projects on the Bygdøy Royal Estate, the Royal Palace, the royal stables and Oscarshall have also taken place. The latter three have also been opened to the public and tourists.[13] Together with Queen Sonja, the king has also for decades attempted to establish a palace museum in Oslo.[14][15]

Official and unofficial duties

King Juan Carlos I of Spain on visit in Norway (2006)
King Harald V at the opening of the Sami parliament in 2013

While the Constitution vests Harald with executive power, he is not politically responsible for exercising it. This is in accordance not only with provisions of the Constitution, but with conventions established since the definitive establishment of parliamentary rule in Norway in 1884. His acts are not valid without the countersignature of a member of the Council of State (cabinet)-usually the Prime Minister-and proceedings of the Council of State are signed by all of its members. Although he nominally has the power of veto, no Norwegian king has exercised it since the dissolution of the union with Sweden in 1905.

While the Constitution nominally vests Harald with the power to appoint the government, in practice the government must maintain the confidence of Parliament. The King appoints the leader of the parliamentary bloc with the majority as prime minister. When the parliamentary situation is unclear, the king relies on the advice of the President of Parliament and the sitting prime minister. Unlike most monarchs, Harald does not have the power to dissolve Parliament; the Constitution does not allow snap elections.

The King meets with the Council of State at the Royal Palace every Friday. He also has weekly meetings with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He receives foreign envoys, and formally opens parliament every October delivering a speech from the throne during each opening. He travels extensively throughout Norway and makes official state visits to other countries, as well as receiving and hosting guests.

In 1994, both the King and Crown Prince Haakon played roles during the opening ceremony of the Lillehammer Olympics. The King opened the games, while the Crown Prince lit the cauldron, paying tribute to both the King and his grandfather as Olympians. The King has also represented Norway at opening ceremonies of Olympic Games, among them Torino and Beijing. However, he wasn't present in Vancouver; the Crown Prince attended instead, with the King and Queen attending later in the games.

With his sailing crew he won World Championship bronze, silver and gold medals, in 1988, 1982 and 1987, respectively. In July 2005, the King and his crew aboard the royal sailboat Fram XV won the gold medal at the European Championships in Sweden. In the 2007 World Championship the King came in sixth place.[16]

Twice since the start of the twenty-first century King Harald was unable to perform his monarchical duties due to ill-health: from December 2003 to mid-April 2004 due to urinary bladder cancer, and from April to early June 2005 due to aortic stenosis. Crown Prince Haakon served as the country's regent on both occasions.

King Harald V with Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina in Buenos Aires, 2018.

Until 2012, the King of Norway was, according to the constitution, the formal head of the Church of Norway. The constitutional amendment of 21 May 2012 made the King no longer the formal head, but he is still required to be of the Evangelical Lutheran religion.

On 8 May 2018, the King's constitutional status as holy was dissolved, while leaving his sovereign immunity intact.[17]

Recent years

King Harald's leadership during Norwegian national crises, such as New Year's Day Storm and particularly the 2011 attacks, has been met with both national and international acclaim.[18][19][20][21]

In 2015, he became the world's first reigning monarch to visit Antarctica, specifically the Norwegian dependency Queen Maud Land.[22] In 2016, King Harald V competed with a team for the sailing World Championships on Lake Ontario, Toronto.[23] The king came second in the classic fleet category.[24] He was dubbed "Sailor-King" by Canada's National Post as he slept onboard his yacht "Sira".[25]

When the King and Queen turned 80 years in 2017, the King decided to open the former royal stables to the public as a gift to his wife, the Queen. The new venue was named The Queen Sonja Art Stable and is the first institution owned by the royal family which is permanently open to the public.[26] King Harald was made Name of the Year by the newspaper VG in 2017.[27]

Titles, styles, arms


  • 21 February 1937 - 21 September 1957: His Royal Highness Prince Harald of Norway
  • 21 September 1957 - 17 January 1991: His Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Norway
  • 17 January 1991 - present: His Majesty The King of Norway


Honours and medals

The King is a four-star general, an admiral, and formally the Supreme Commander of the Norwegian Armed Forces. The infantry battalion His Majesty the King's Guard are considered the King's and the Royal Family's bodyguards. They guard the Royal residences, including the Royal Palace, the Crown Prince Residence at Skaugum, and the Royal Mausoleum at Akershus Castle.

National honours and medals

The King is Grand Master of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav and the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit.

Medal record
Gold medal - first place Sailing
Silver medal - second place Sailing
Bronze medal - third place Sailing
Gold medal - first place Sailing

St Olavs Orden storkors stripe.svg Den kongelige norske fortjenstorden storkors stripe.svg St. Olavs Orden stripe.svg

Forsvarsmedaljen med laurbærgren stripe.svg Kongehusets 100-årsmedalje stripe.svg Haakon VIIs minnemedalje stripe.svg Haakon VIIs jubileumsmedalje 1905-1955 stripe.svg

Haakon VIIs 100-årsmedalje stripe.svg Olav Vs minnemedalje stripe.svg Olav Vs jubileumsmedalje 1957-1982 stripe.svg Olav Vs 100-årsmedalje stripe.svg

Forsvarsmedaljen med 3 stjerner stripe.svg Vernedyktighetsmedaljen Hæren med 3 stjerner.svg Krigsdeltagerforbundets hederstegn stripe.svg Norges Røde Kors hederstegn stripe.svg

Norske reserveoffiserers forbunds hederstegn stripe.svg Sjømilitære Samfunds fortjenstmedalje stripe.svg Norges skytterforbunds hederstegn stripe.svg Oslo militære samfunds hederstegn stripe.svg

Foreign honours

In the British Army, Harald V was the final Colonel-in-Chief of the Green Howards.[28] He is also an honorary Colonel in the British Royal Marines.[29] He is patron of the Anglo-Norse Society in London, together with Queen Elizabeth II, his second cousin. Harald is the first foreign monarch in the line of succession to the British throne, because of his descent from King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. He is a Stranger Knight of the Garter, an Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, and a Recipient of the Royal Victorian Chain, as well as numerous other orders of chivalry.

Northern European countries

Other countries

The mark ° shows honours mention on his official website page about decorations

Miscellaneous honours

Harald V received an honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law from Oxford University in 2006 (as did his father, King Olav, in 1937, and his grandfather, King Haakon, in 1943).[45] The King also received honorary doctorates from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland in 1994,[46] the University of Strathclyde in Scotland in 1985, Waseda University in Japan in 2001, and Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, in 2015. He is also an honorary fellow at Balliol College, Oxford.


King Harald is closely related to other European monarchs. He is the first cousin once removed of King Philippe of Belgium and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, the second cousin of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, and the second cousin once removed of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

Patrilineal descent


Name Birth Marriage
Date Spouse Issue
Princess Märtha Louise September 22, 1971 May 24, 2002 Ari Behn
    • Maud Angelica Behn, born 29 April 2003
    • Leah Isadora Behn, born 8 April 2005
    • Emma Tallulah Behn, born 29 September 2008
Crown Prince Haakon Magnus July 20, 1973 August 25, 2001 Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby


  1. ^ Coronation requirement discarded by constitutional amendment in 1908. Harald V swore the Royal Oath in the Storting on 21 January 1991 and received the benediction in the Nidaros Cathedral on 23 June 1991.
  2. ^ "The Royal Family". Retrieved 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Hegge, Per Egil; Harald V, En biografi; N.W. Damm & Søn AS; 2006.
  4. ^ "Kidnapper Foiled?". Time. 2 September 1940. Retrieved 2009.
  5. ^ "Non-Political Campaign". Time Magazine. 9 September 1940. p. 2. Retrieved 2009.
  6. ^ a b c "Those Apprentice Kings and Queens Who May - One Day - Ascend a Throne," New York Times. 14 November 1971.
  7. ^ "Crown Princess Märtha (1901-1954)". Norwegian Royal House.
  8. ^ "Victory by Design". Time Magazine. 27 September 1963. p. 1. Retrieved 2009.
  9. ^ "HP-Time.com". Time Magazine. 26 June 1964. p. 2. Retrieved 2009.
  10. ^ "The Consecration of King Harald and Queen Sonja". www.kongehuset.no (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2017.
  11. ^ NRK. "- Å si at vi ikke er åpne, er rett og slett feil". NRK (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2017.
  12. ^ "Stanghelle: "Kong Harald står frem som mannen som forstår sin egen tid"". Aftenposten. Retrieved 2017.
  13. ^ "The Royal Palace is open to the public". www.royalcourt.no. Retrieved 2017.
  14. ^ Totl, Kjell Arne. "Kongehusekspert Kjell Arne Totland skriver: Gi kongeparet et permanent slottsmuseum". Aftenposten (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2018.
  15. ^ Moxnes, Agnes (27 December 2018). "På tide med et slottsmuseum". NRK (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2018.
  16. ^ Sandefjords Blad on the King's performance in the World Championship (in Norwegian) Retrieved 10 September 2007.[dead link]
  17. ^ NTB 2018. 'Fra tirsdag er ikke kongen lenger hellig'. NRK, 7 May. Retrieved on 8 May. https://www.nrk.no/norge/fra-tirsdag-er-ikke-kongen-lenger-hellig-1.14039929
  18. ^ Erlanger, Steven (15 October 2011). "King Harald of Norway Proves Mettle With Response to July 22 Deaths". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018.
  19. ^ "Norway remembers 77 killed in massacre". msnbc.com. 21 August 2011. Retrieved 2018.
  20. ^ "Kongen om terrorangrepet: - Våre tanker går til ofrene". VG (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2018.
  21. ^ "- Hans aller beste tale". Dagbladet.no (in Norwegian). 21 August 2011. Retrieved 2018.
  22. ^ "King Harald visits Antarctic namesake". The Local. 11 February 2015. Retrieved 2015.
    "Sun shines for king in Antarctica". newsinenglish.no. 11 February 2015. Retrieved 2015.
    "King Harald begins Antarctic visit". The Norway Post. NRK/Aftenposten. 11 February 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  23. ^ "King Harald of Norway in Canada to participate in sailing World Championships - Royal Central". royalcentral.co.uk. Retrieved 2017.
  24. ^ "North American Eight Metre Association" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 August 2017.
  25. ^ "Norway's sailor king: Why Harald V has been sleeping on a yacht moored on Toronto's waterfront". National Post. Retrieved 2017.
  26. ^ "The Art Stable is open". www.royalcourt.no. Retrieved 2017.
  27. ^ "Kongebiograf: Kong Harald blir mer populær jo eldre han blir" (in Norwegian). Retrieved 2018.
  28. ^ "No. 52834". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 February 1992. p. 2582.
  29. ^ "No. 48634". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 June 1981. p. 7795.
  30. ^ "Noblesse et Royautés" Archived 22 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Guests to Victoria of Sweden's wedding, Photo Archived 8 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ Noblesse et Royautés Archived 17 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine (French), State visit of President of Finland in Norway, 2012, Photo Archived 17 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  32. ^ Lithuanian Presidency Archived 19 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Lithuanian Orders searching form
  33. ^ "King of Norway awarded Honorary Freedom of Newcastle". Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 2008.
  34. ^ Solholm, Rolleiv (14 November 2008). "King Harald receives honorary title". Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Norway Post. Retrieved 2008.[dead link]
  35. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF) (in German). p. 170. Retrieved 2012.
  36. ^ Belga Pictures, State visit of Norway in Belgium, May 2003, Group photo Archived 25 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Harald V & Paola Archived 25 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Albert II & Sonja Archived 13 July 2012 at Archive.today
  37. ^ Italian Presidency website, decorations - Harald V : Grand Cross - Collar
  38. ^ a b c Portuguese presidential website, Orders search form
  39. ^ Slovak republic website, State honours Archived 13 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine : 1st Class received in 2010 (click on "Holders of the Order of the 1st Class White Double Cross" to see the holders' table)
  40. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  41. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  42. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  43. ^ Royal Thai Government Gazette (28 December 1960). ? (PDF) (in Thai). Retrieved 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  44. ^ "Official State visit of Norway (Photo of Order of State and Order of St. Olaf)". Presidency of Republic of Turkey. 5 November 2013. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 2013.
  45. ^ Article in VG on the honorary doctorate (in Norwegian)
  46. ^ webperson@hw.ac.uk. "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". www1.hw.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016.
  47. ^ "State Visit continues". The Royal House of Norway. Retrieved 2014.
  48. ^ "New land area named after King Harald". The Norway Post. NRK. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 2013.

External links

Harald V
Born: 21 February 1937
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Olav V
King of Norway
Heir apparent:
Crown Prince Haakon
Norwegian royalty
Preceded by
Crown Prince of Norway
Succeeded by
Lines of succession
Preceded by
Amelia Etherington
Line of succession to the British throne
descended from Maud, daughter of Edward VII
Succeeded by
Crown Prince of Norway

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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