Haakon VII of Norway

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Haakon VII
King of Norway
Reign 18 November 1905 − 21 September 1957
Coronation 22 June 1906
Predecessor Oscar II
Successor Olav V
Born (1872-08-03)3 August 1872
Charlottenlund Palace, near Copenhagen
Died 21 September 1957(1957-09-21) (aged 85)
Royal Palace, Oslo
Burial 1 October 1957
Akershus Fortress, Oslo
Spouse Maud of Wales
Issue Olav V of Norway
Full name
Haakon, né Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel
House Glücksburg
Father Frederick VIII of Denmark
Mother Louise of Sweden
Religion Lutheran

Haakon VII (Norwegian pronunciation: [ho̞ːkɔ̞̈n]; Prince Carl of Denmark and Iceland, born Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel; 3 August 1872 – 21 September 1957), known as Prince Carl of Denmark until 1905, was the first king of Norway after the 1905 dissolution of the union with Sweden. He was a member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. As one of the few elected monarchs, Haakon quickly won the respect and affection of his people and played a pivotal role in uniting the Norwegian nation in its resistance to the Nazi invasion and subsequent five-year-long occupation of his country during World War II.

In Norway, Haakon is regarded as one of the greatest Norwegians of the twentieth century and is particularly revered for his courage during the German invasion—he threatened abdication if the government cooperated with the invading Germans—and for his leadership and preservation of Norwegian unity during the Nazi occupation. He died at the age of 85 on 21 September 1957, after having reigned for nearly 52 years.

Early years as a Danish prince

Prince Carl of Denmark, later King Haakon VII of Norway, in 1889.

Originally known as Prince Carl of Denmark (namesake of his maternal grandfather the King of Norway etc.), he was the second son of (the future) King Frederik VIII of Denmark and his wife Louise. Furthermore, he was a younger brother of Christian X, a paternal grandson of King Christian IX of Denmark (during whose reign he was prince of Denmark), and a maternal grandson of King Charles XV of Sweden (who was also king of Norway as Charles IV). He became king of Norway before his father and older brother became kings of Denmark. During his reign, he saw his father, his brother and his nephew, Frederick IX, ascend the throne of Denmark, respectively in 1906, 1912 and 1947. Through his father, he was a nephew of Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom, Empress Maria Feodorovna of Russia and King George I of Greece. Amongst his cousins were King Constantine I of Greece, King George V of the United Kingdom and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.

Prince Carl was born at Charlottenlund Palace near Copenhagen. He belonged to the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg branch of the House of Oldenburg. The House of Oldenburg had been the Danish royal family since 1448; between 1536–1814 it also ruled Norway when it was part of the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway. The house was originally from northern Germany, where the Glucksburg (Lyksborg) branch held their small fief. The family had permanent links with Norway beginning from the late Middle Ages. Several of his paternal ancestors had been kings of independent Norway (Haakon V of Norway, Christian I of Norway, Frederick I, Christian III, Frederick II, Christian IV, as well as Frederick III of Norway who integrated Norway into the Oldenburg state with Denmark, Slesvig and Holstein, after which it was not independent until 1814). Christian Frederick, who was King of Norway briefly in 1814, the first king of the Norwegian 1814 constitution and struggle for independence, was his great-granduncle.

Prince Carl was raised in the royal household in Copenhagen and educated at the Royal Danish Naval Academy.[citation needed]

At Buckingham Palace on 22 July 1896,[1] Prince Carl married his first cousin Princess Maud of Wales, youngest daughter of the future King Edward VII of the United Kingdom and his wife, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, eldest daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark and Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel. Their son, Prince Alexander, the future Crown Prince Olav (and eventually king Olav V of Norway), was born on 2 July 1903.[1]

Accession to the Norwegian throne

Royal Monogram
File:H7 cor.JPG
The coronation of King Haakon VII and Queen Maud on 22 June 1906
King Haakon VII, Crown Prince Olav and Queen Maud, on 1913 July 17 in Norway

After the Union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved in 1905, a committee of the Norwegian government identified several princes of European royal houses as candidates to become Norway's first king of its own since 1387. Gradually, Prince Carl became the leading candidate, largely because he was descended from independent Norwegian kings. He also had a son, providing an heir-apparent to the throne, and the fact that his wife, Princess Maud, was a member of the British Royal Family was viewed by many as an advantage to the newly independent Norwegian nation.[citation needed]

The democratically-minded Carl, aware that Norway was still debating whether to remain a kingdom or to switch instead to a republican system of government, was flattered by the Norwegian government's overtures, but he made his acceptance of the offer conditional on the holding of a referendum to show whether monarchy was the choice of the Norwegian people.

After the referendum overwhelmingly confirmed by a 79 percent majority (259,563 votes for and 69,264 against)[2] that Norwegians desired to retain a monarchy, Prince Carl was formally offered the throne of Norway by the Storting (parliament) and was elected on 18 November 1905. When Carl accepted the offer that same evening (after the approval of his grandfather Christian IX of Denmark), he immediately endeared himself to his adopted country by taking the Old Norse name of Haakon, a name used by no less than five previous Kings of Norway.[3] In so doing, he succeeded his great-uncle, Oscar II of Sweden, who had abdicated the Norwegian throne in October following the agreement between Sweden and Norway on the terms of the separation of the union.

The new royal family of Norway left Denmark on the Danish royal yacht Dannebrog and sailed with her into Oslofjord. At Oscarsborg Fortress they boarded the Norwegian naval ship Heimdal. After a three-day journey, they arrived in Kristiania (now Oslo) early on the morning of 25 November 1905. Two days later, Haakon took the oath as Norway's first independent king in 518 years.

The coronation of Haakon and Maud took place in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on 22 June 1906.[1]

Reign as Norwegian king

King Haakon gained much sympathy from the Norwegian people. He traveled extensively through Norway.

Although the Constitution of Norway nominally vested the King with considerable executive powers, in practice nearly all major governmental decisions are made by the Government (the Council of State) in his name. Haakon confined himself to a largely ceremonial role, a practice continued by his son and grandson. However, his long rule gave him considerable moral authority as a symbol of the country's unity.

Haakon, Maud and Crown Prince Olav became interested in skiing. This sport is often viewed as typically Norwegian. They were often seen while being on tour with their skis. Olav later became a champion in ski jumping.

The Norwegian explorer and Nobel Prize laureate Fridtjof Nansen became a friend of the Royal Family.

In 1927 he stated: "I am also the King of the Communists" (Norwegian: "Jeg er også kommunistenes konge").[4] He participated in the political process after the first prime minister from the Norwegian Labour Party was chosen in 1928, a process that caused a special parliamentary situation.

Crown Prince Olav married his cousin Princess Märtha of Sweden on 21 March 1929. She was the daughter of Haakon's sister Ingeborg and Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland. Olav and Märtha had three children: Ragnhild (1930–2012), Astrid (b. 1932) and Harald (b. 1937), who was to become king in 1991.

Queen Maud died on 20 November 1938.

Resistance during World War II

The German invasion

Norway was invaded by the naval and air forces of Nazi Germany during the early hours of 9 April 1940. The German naval detachment sent to capture Oslo was challenged at Oscarsborg Fortress. The fortress fired at the invaders, causing damage to the pocket battleship Lützow and sinking the heavy cruiser Blücher, with heavy German losses that included many of the armed forces, Gestapo agents, and administrative personnel who were to have occupied the Norwegian capital. These events led to the withdrawal of the rest of the German flotilla, preventing the invaders from occupying Oslo at dawn as had been intended. The German occupation forces' delay in occupying Oslo, along with swift action from the President of the Storting, C. J. Hambro, created the opportunity for the Norwegian Royal Family, the Cabinet, and most of the 150 members of the Storting (parliament) to make a hasty departure from the capital by special train.

The Storting first convened at Hamar the same afternoon, but with the rapid advance of German troops, the group moved on to Elverum. The assembled Parliament unanimously enacted a resolution, the so-called Elverum Authorization, granting the Cabinet full powers to protect the country until such time as the Storting could meet again.

The next day, Curt Bräuer, the German Minister to Norway, demanded a meeting with Haakon. The German diplomat called on Haakon to accept Adolf Hitler's demands to end all resistance and appoint Vidkun Quisling as prime minister. Quisling, the leader of Norway's fascist party, the Nasjonal Samling, had declared himself prime minister hours earlier in Oslo as head of what would be a German puppet government; had Haakon formally appointed him, it would have effectively given legal sanction to the invasion. Bräuer suggested that Haakon follow the example of the Danish government and his brother, Christian X, which had surrendered almost immediately after the previous day's invasion, and threatened Norway with harsh reprisals if it did not surrender. Haakon told Bräuer that he could not make the decision himself, but only on the advice of the Government. While Haakon would have been well within his rights to make such a decision on his own authority (since declaring war and peace are part of the royal prerogative), even at this critical hour he refused to abandon the convention that he act on the Government's advice.

In an emotional meeting in Nybergsund, the King reported the German ultimatum to his cabinet. While Haakon could not make the decision himself, he knew he could use his moral authority to influence it. Accordingly, Haakon told the Cabinet:

Haakon went on to say that he could not appoint Quisling as Prime Minister because he knew neither the people nor the Storting had confidence in him. However, if the Cabinet felt otherwise, the King said he would abdicate so as not to stand in the way of the Government's decision.

Nils Hjelmtveit, Minister of Church and Education, later wrote: "This made a great impression on us all. More clearly than ever before, we could see the man behind the words; the king who had drawn a line for himself and his task, a line from which he could not deviate. We had through the five years [in government] learned to respect and appreciate our king, and now, through his words, he came to us as a great man, just and forceful; a leader in these fatal times to our country".[6]

Inspired by Haakon's stand, the Government unanimously advised Haakon not to appoint any government headed by Quisling. Within hours, it telephoned its refusal to Bräuer. That night, NRK broadcast the government's rejection of the German demands to the Norwegian people. In that same broadcast, the government announced that it would resist the German attack as long as possible, and expressed their confidence that Norwegians would lend their support to the cause.

King Haakon and crown prince Olav seeking refuge under a birch tree during a German bombing attack against Molde in April 1940

Government in exile

The following morning, 11 April 1940, in an attempt to wipe out Norway's unyielding King and Government, bomber aircraft of the Luftwaffe attacked Nybergsund, destroying the small town where the government was staying. The King and his ministers took refuge in the snow-covered woods and escaped harm, continuing farther north through the mountains toward Molde on Norway's west coast. As the British forces in the area lost ground under Luftwaffe bombardment, the King and his party were taken aboard the British cruiser HMS Glasgow at Molde and conveyed a further 1,000 km north to Tromsø, where a provisional capital was established on 1 May. Haakon and Crown Prince Olav took up residence in a forest cabin in Målselvdalen valley in inner Troms county, where they would stay until the evacuation to the United Kingdom. While residing in Tromsø, the two were protected by local rifle association members armed with the ubiquitous Krag-Jørgensen rifle.[citation needed]

The Allies had a fairly secure hold over northern Norway until late May. The situation was dramatically altered, however, by the Allies' deteriorating position in the Battle of France. With the Germans rapidly overrunning France, the Allied high command decided that the forces in northern Norway should be withdrawn. The Royal Family and Norwegian Government were evacuated from Tromsø on 7 June aboard HMS Devonshire with a total of 461 passengers. This evacuation became extremely costly for the Royal Navy when the German warships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau attacked and sank the nearby aircraft carrier HMS Glorious with its escorting destroyers HMS Acasta and HMS Ardent. Devonshire did not rebroadcast the enemy sighting report made by Glorious as she could not disclose her position by breaking radio silence. However no other British ship received the sighting report and 1,519 British officers and men and three warships were lost. Devonshire arrived safely in London and King Haakon and his cabinet set up a Norwegian government in exile in the British capital.

Initially, King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav were guests at Buckingham Palace, but at the start of the London Blitz in September 1940, they moved to Bowdown House in Berkshire. The construction of the adjacent RAF Greenham Common airfield in March 1942 prompted another move to Foliejon Park in Winkfield, near Windsor, in Berkshire where they remained until the liberation of Norway.[7] The King's official residence was the Norwegian Legation at 10 Palace Green, Kensington, which became the seat of the Norwegian government in exile. Here Haakon attended weekly cabinet meetings and worked on the speeches which were regularly broadcast by radio to Norway by the BBC World Service. These broadcasts helped to cement Haakon's position as an important national symbol to the Norwegian resistance.[8] Many broadcasts were made from Saint Olav's Norwegian Church in Rotherhithe, where the Royal Family were regular worshippers. Famously, one of the broadcasts went badly wrong when instead of the expected fanfare, the sound library delivered the sound of a funfair. Luckily, King Haakon found the mix-up funny and stifling a giggle, pronounced to the Norwegian people "Roll up, Roll up, all the fun of the fair" and managed to incorporate the fair reference into the speech he was intending to give. [9]

The Royal Family of Norway waving to the welcoming crowds from HMS Norfolk at Oslo.

Meanwhile, Hitler had appointed Josef Terboven as Reichskommissar for Norway. On Hitler's orders, Terboven attempted to coerce the Storting to depose the King; Parliament declined, citing constitutional principles. A subsequent ultimatum was made by the Germans, threatening to intern all Norwegians of military age in German concentration camps.[10] With this threat looming, the Norwegian Parliament's representatives in Oslo wrote to their monarch on 27 June, asking him to abdicate. The King, politely replying that the Storting had acted under duress, declined the request. The King gave his answer on 3 July, and proclaimed it on BBC radio on 8 July.[11]

After one further German attempt in September to force the Storting to depose Haakon failed, Terboven finally decreed that the Royal Family had "forfeited their right to return" and dissolved the democratic political parties.[citation needed]

During Norway's five years under German control, many Norwegians surreptitiously wore clothing or jewellery made from coins bearing Haakon's "H7" monogram as symbols of resistance to the German occupation and of solidarity with their exiled king and government, just as many people in Denmark wore his brother's monogram on a pin. The King's monogram was also painted and otherwise reproduced on various surfaces as a show of resistance to the occupation.[12]

After the end of the war, Haakon and the Norwegian Royal Family returned to Norway aboard the cruiser HMS Norfolk, arriving with the First Cruiser Squadron to cheering crowds in Oslo on 7 June 1945,[13] exactly five years after they had been evacuated from Tromsø.[14]

Post-war years

King Haakon VII speaking in 1950, Crown Prince Olav on his left side

In 1947 the Norwegian people, by public subscription, purchased the royal yacht Norge for the King. (In 2012 it was one of only two remaining Royal Yachts belonging to European monarchs;[citation needed] the other, Dannebrog, belongs to the Queen of Denmark, the King's niece).

In 1952 he attended the funeral of his nephew King George VI and openly wept. (His two nephews and one niece on his wife's side had died: Prince John in 1919, Prince George, Duke of Kent in 1942 and Princess Maud, Countess of Southesk in 1945.)

The King's granddaughter, Princess Ragnhild, married businessman Erling Lorentzen (of the Lorentzen family) on 15 May 1953, being the first Norwegian Royal to marry a commoner. Haakon saw two of his great-grandchildren being born, Haakon Lorentzen (b. 23 August 1954) and Ingeborg Lorentzen (b. 3 February 1957).

Crown Princess Märtha died on 5 April 1954, after suffering from cancer.

King Haakon VII fell in his bathroom at the estate at Bygdøy in July 1955. This fall, which occurred just a month before his eighty-third birthday, resulted in a fracture to the King's thighbone and, although there were few other complications resulting from the fall, the King was left using a wheelchair. The once-active king was said to have been depressed by his resulting helplessness and began to lose his customary involvement and interest in current events. With Haakon's loss of mobility, and as the King's health deteriorated further in the summer of 1957, Crown Prince Olav appeared on behalf of his father on ceremonial occasions and took a more active role in state affairs.

At Haakon's death on September 21, 1957; the Crown Prince succeeded as Olav V. Haakon was buried on 1 October 1957. He and Maud rest in the white sarcophagus in the Royal Mausoleum at Akershus Fortress.

Today, King Haakon VII is regarded by many as one of the greatest Norwegian leaders of the pre-war period, managing to hold his young and fragile country together in unstable political conditions.



The King Haakon VII Sea in East Antarctica is named in the king's honour as well as the entire plateau surrounding the South Pole was named King Haakon VII Vidde by Roald Amundsen when he in 1911 became the first human to reach the South Pole. See Polheim. In 1914 Haakon County in the American state of South Dakota was named in his honor.

Two Royal Norwegian Navy ships – King Haakon VII, an escort ship in commission from 1942 to 1951, and Haakon VII, a training ship in commission from 1958 to 1974—have been named after King Haakon VII.

For his struggles against the Nazi regime and his effort to revive the Holmenkollen ski festival following World War II, King Haakon VII earned the Holmenkollen medal in 1955 (Shared with Hallgeir Brenden, Veikko Hakulinen, and Sverre Stenersen), one of only eleven people not famous for Nordic skiing to receive this honour. (The others are Norway's Stein Eriksen, Borghild Niskin, Inger Bjørnbakken, Astrid Sandvik, King Olav V (his son), Erik Håker, Jacob Vaage, King Harald V (his paternal grandson), and Queen Sonja (his paternal granddaughter-in-law), and Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark).

His father-in-law King Edward VII appointed him Honorary Lieutenant in the British Fleet shortly after succeeding in February 1901.[15]

Other honours:

Titles and styles

Titles and styles which Haakon VII bore from birth to death, in chronological order:

  • 3 August 1872 – 18 November 1905: His Royal Highness Prince Carl of Denmark
  • 18 November 1905 – 21 September 1957: His Majesty The King of Norway

Haakon VII was the last of Norway's Kings to have the style by the Grace of God (Norwegian: av Guds nåde).

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "The Queen Receives". Time Magazine. 18 June 1923. Retrieved 17 January 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Jubilee". Time Magazine. 8 December 1930. p. 1. Retrieved 17 December 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. English Heritage (2005). "Blue Plaque for King Haakon VII of Norway". English Heritage. Retrieved 12 April 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. This was said when Christian Hornsrud of the Labour Party was appointed to Prime Minister in 1928, http://www.kongehuset.no/c27060/artikkel/vis.html?tid=27613 (Official site of the Norwegian Royal House, in Norwegian)
  5. The account and quotation were recorded by one of the cabinet members and were recounted in William L. Shirer's The Challenge of Scandinavia.
  6. Haarr, Geirr H. (2009). The German Invasion of Norway. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-84832-032-1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. British Government News & Press Releases – 25 October 2005: Blue Plaque for King Haakon VII of Norway
  8. Norway: the official site in the UK – News 27 October 2012 – Princess Astrid unveils blue plaque
  9. The Diocese of Southwark, The Bridge, December 2009 – January 2010: Scandinavia in Rotherhithe
  10. William Lawrence Shirer: The challenge of Scandinavia: Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland in our time, Robert Hale, 1956
  11. Dahl, Hjeltnes, Nøkleby, Ringdal, Sørensen, ed. (1995). "Norge i krigen 1939–45. Kronologisk oversikt". Norsk krigsleksikon 1940-45 (in Norwegian). Oslo: Cappelen. p. 11. ISBN 82-02-14138-9.CS1 maint: multiple names: editors list (link) CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. H7, Time Magazine, Monday, 30 Sep. 1957
  13. "First Out, First In". Time Magazine. 11 June 1945. Retrieved 17 January 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. The Norwegian Royal House's official page about the escape, the five years in exile and the return after World War II (English)
  15. The London Gazette: no. 27285. p. 1147. 15 February 1901. Retrieved 11-10-2012.
  16. Icelandese Presidency Website , Hakon VII ; konungur ; Noregur ; 1955-05-25 ; Stórkross með keðju (= Haakon VII , King , Norway, 25 May 1955, Grand Cross with Collar)
  17. Royal House of Norway web page on King Haakon VII's decorations (Norwegian) Retrieved 5 October 2007
  18. "Garter Knights Meet in Splendid Ceremony ... King Kaakon is Invested," New York Times. 25 November 1906.
  19. The London Gazette: no. 27285. p. 1145. 15 February 1901.
  20. "Miscellany". Time Magazine. 25 December 1944. Retrieved 17 January 2009.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. The London Gazette: no. 27441. p. 3756. 10 June 1902.


  • Shirer, William L. (1956). The Challenge of Scandinavia. London: Robert Hale.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Bomann-Larsen, Tor (2004). Haakon og Maud I/Kongstanken. Oslo: Cappelen. ISBN 82-02-22527-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Bomann-Larsen, Tor (2004). Haakon og Maud II/Folket. Oslo: Cappelen. ISBN 978-82-02-22529-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Bomann-Larsen, Tor (2006). Haakon og Maud III/Vintertronen. Oslo: Cappelen. ISBN 978-82-02-24665-5.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Haakon VII
Cadet branch of the House of Oldenburg
Born: 3 August 1872 Died: 21 September 1957
Regnal titles
Title last held by
Oscar II
King of Norway
Succeeded by
Olav V