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The Royal Family of Norway

Norway Royal Family – King, queen, prince and princess
Photo: The Royal House of Norway

Everything you need to know about one of the coolest royal families in the world – the Norwegian Royal Family.

The Norwegian Royal Family is often referred to as the coolest Royal Family in the world. But just why are they so frequently considered the hippest royals around?

The family’s popularity is charged mostly by their accessibility to the public, their down to earth nature and their inclusive mindset. They are often seen out in public, not least on National Day on the 17 May, and they frequently travel on public transport and regular domestic flights in Norway.

Another secret to their popularity is their well-worded public speeches. The Norwegian Royal Family are open, inclusive and compassionate and their oral communications confirm it.

In a recent speech, King Harald stated that:

“Norwegians come from the north of the country, from the middle, from the south and all the other regions. Norwegians are also immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Poland, Sweden, Somalia and Syria.”

Read more: A Brief History of Norway

”Norwegians are girls who love girls. Boys who love boys. And boys who love girls who love each other. Norwegians believe in God, Allah, everything and nothing.”

Royal Family v Royal House

There is a clear distinction between the Royal House (kongehuset) and the Royal Family (kongelige familie) in Norway. Whereas the Royal House includes just the monarch and their spouse, the heir apparent and their spouse, and the heir apparent's eldest child.

In contrast to that, the Royal Family has a much wider definition. It includes all of the monarch's children and their spouses, grandchildren and sublings.

Now, with definitions out of the way, let’s meet the key members of the Norwegian Royal Family:

HM The King

At the head of the family is HM The King, born on 21 February 1937. Harald became King on 17 January 1991, inheriting his place on the throne after the death of his father, King Olav V. King Harald V was one of three siblings of King Olav V and Princess Märtha of Sweden but their only son.

Some royal families tend to be fairly closed off to the public and media but not Norway’s. Along with other members of the current Royal Family, the King has played an important role in the modernisation and organisation of the family, which includes a certain level of openness and accessibility to the public.

Read more: Scandinavia's Kalmar Union

King Harald V was an enthusiastic sportsman in the past. He competed in the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games in the category of sailing. In addition, he won silver in the sailing World Championships in 1982, Gold in 1987 and a bronze medal in 1988.

Photo: The Royal House of Norway

HM The Queen

Queen Sonja, born on 4 July 1937, is The King’s wife. They got married in Oslo Cathedral on 29 August 1968. She became queen on 17 January 1991.

She first met the then Crown Prince Harald in 1959, and the pair subsequently dated for nine years. But because she was a commoner the relationship was shrouded in secrecy for a time. Eventually, the Crown Prince’s father, King Olav V, gave his approval and pair could be together and eventually marry.

Queen Sonja has been involved and participated in numerous humanitarian projects in the past, from establishing the Princess Märtha Louise’s Fund, a charity set up to help disabled children in Norway, to standing as the Vice President of the Norwegian Red Cross.

Photo: The Royal House of Norway

HRH The Crown Prince

The Crown Prince of Norway is Haakon Magnus, the 46-year-old heir apparent to the throne. He is the second born child but only son of King Harald V and Queen Sonja.

He is married to HRH The Crown Princess, Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby. They have had two children together: Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Prince Sverre Magnus. Matte-Marit has an older son, Marius Borg Høiby, from a previous relationship.

In 1999 the Crown Prince graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. He finished his education at the London School of Economics, where he achieved a master’s degree in developmental studies. He has also served in the Royal Norwegian Navy.

Crown Prince Haakon and his wife Crown Princess Mette-Marit. Photo: The Royal House of Norway

HH Princess Märtha Louise

The Princess is the only daughter of King Harald and Queen Sonja. She was the wife of Ari Behn, an author, playwright and visual artist, who tragically took his own life on 25 December 2019. The pair had three children together, Maud Angelica Behn, Leah Isadora Behn and Emma Tallulah Behn, but divorced in 2017.

HH Princess Astrid

HH Princess Astrid is the second daughter of King Olav V and sister of King Harald V. She was born in Oslo in 1932.

Just like her brother she also married a commoner, Johan Martin Ferner, and they went on to have five children together. Her husband passed away in 2015.

Along with other family members, she fled Norway during World War II, moving to east coast of America temporary. Shortly after the war, she moved to Oxford, England, where she studied economics and political history.

Princess Astrid is the younger sister of HH Princess Ragnhild, who died in 2012 aged 82. Princess Ragnhild, despite being King Olav V's first born, was never in line to be on the Norwegian throne. This was because the country's agnatic law of succession.

Interestingly, though, during her lifetime, she was positioned 16th and 17th to take her place on the British throne.

Royal properties

Now let’s take a look at the palaces and other buildings.

The Royal Palace

The Norwegian Royal Family have various places of residence in Norway. The most notably and recognisable of those abodes is the Royal Palace. It is located at Slottsplassen in Oslo, right at the end of the city’s main street, Karl Johans gate

Photo: The Royal House of Norway

Along with City Hall and the Opera house, the Royal Palace is one of the more frequent images on the front of post cards.

Ledaal

The King’s official residence in the Stavanger municipality is called Ledaal. The house was built between 1799 and 1803 and renovated 60 years later in 1863.

It was built by Gabriel Kielland a wealthy businessman and ship owner and originally used by the Kielland family chiefly as a summer house. It was first used as royal residence shortly after a further refurbishment not long after the Second World War in 1949.

Oscarshall

Oscarshall is a summer palace situated on the Bydøy peninsula in Oslo. It was built in 1852 after being commissioned by King Oscar I and Queen Joséphine.

Oscarshall is one of the country’s finest examples of Neo-Gothic style, a type of architecture that was popular in the age of Norwegian Romanticism. The public can visit the palace each summer when guided tours can be taken.

Other Royal properties include a farm on Bygdø, a mountain chalet in Gudbrandsdal valley at Vinstra, Gamlehaugen in Bergen, and, of course, what Royal doesn’t have its own royal yacht.

Whatever you think of the Norwegian Royal Family, you can’t deny they are pretty cool as far as royals go. So next time you visit Oslo be sure to take a stroll along Karl Johans Gate up to the Norwegian Royal Palace for the ultimate royal experience.

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About the Author: Mathew Paul Gundersen

Mathew is an English – part Norwegian – guy living in Oslo, where he is a master's student in Ibsen Studies at the University of Oslo. In June 2019, he graduated with a bachelor degree in English Literature from the University of Buckingham. Mathew is also a writer, an English teacher, media specialist and general Norway enthusiast. His Great Grandfather was Norwegian and this is what brought about an initial move to Norway and Stavanger in 2016. Mathew's personal blog can be found here: godfoten.wordpress.com.

5 Comments

  1. Both my father and my maternal grandfather were named “Harald” in honor of Norwegian Kings. In both cases, American clerks apparently decided that their names should honor the English King Harold instead and so their names were recorded officially with the English spelling. I see that your article splits the difference and spells the current kíng’s name both ways!

    1. My middle name is Harald, as given to me by my parents. My mother especially preferred the Norwegian spelling and pronunciation, but I chose to use the English pronunciation and spelling. Similarly with my first name Arne, although I use the Norwegian spelling.

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