Friday, February 21, 2014

Royal Profile: King Harald V of Norway

King Harald V of Norway was born on 21 February 1937 as the third child and only son of Crown Prince Olav (the future King Olav V, 1903-1991) and Crown Princess Märtha (1901-1954) {Source}. He had two older sisters{Source}:
  • Princess Ragnhild (1930-2012)
  • Princess Astrid (1932-)
At the time of his birth, the Norwegian Constitution of 1884 stipulated that only male heirs could inherit the throne, this was amended in 1990 to include females and the eldest child regardless of gender{Source}.

He was the first prince born in Norway in 567 years{Source}. His early years wehre spent at his parents' estate, Skaugum{Source} (Skaugum would later become his official residence before giving it to his son as his official residence). However, in April 1940, things changed when the Germans invaded Norway{Source}. The Royal family, members of the government and most members of the Norweigan Storting escaped the country by train{Source}. Once the family reached the city of Elverum, his father left the family to continue the journey to safety with their three children{Source}. First, he traveled with his mother and sisters to Sweden (where his mother is a birth-right Princess and his maternal grandfather was the son of King Oscar II){Source}. After several months there, the royal family continued to the United States, where they remained for the remainder of the war{Source}.

After the war ended in 1945, the Royal Family returned to Norway, where the young prince began school at Smestad School{Source}. During his education, he had a security guard stationed outside his classroom, but other than that, his educational experience did not differ from other children{Source}. He completed his upper-secondary education in 1955 at the Olso Cathedral School{Source}.

Upon graduation, he entered the Norwegian Cavalry Officers’ Training School and went on to finish his military education at the Military Academy in 1959{Source}. Upon completion of his compulsory military service, the Crown Prince went to Oxford for further study{Source}. He attended Balliol College from 1960 to 1962, studying social science, history and economics{Source}.

His grandfather died in September 1957, leaving his father to reign as King and he as Crown Prince{Source}. Upon his event, he attended his first Council of State meeting for the first time{Source}. After his father reign officially began, he began to increase his number of official tasks, such as travelling with trade delegations to promote Norwegian industry abroad{Source}. In 1960, Crown Prince Harald attended his first official state visit abroad, where he attended the 50th anniversary of the American-Scandinavian Foundation in the United States{Source}.


In March 1968, his engagement to commoner Sonja Haraldsen was announced after a nine-year courtship{Source}. Reportedly, his father originally did not approve of the match due to her being a commoner, but Crown Prince Harald stood his ground and refused to marry anyone by Sonja. They were married on 29 August 1968{Source}. Together, they have two children, two children-in-law, and five grandchildren:
  • Princess  Märtha Louise(1971)
    • Mr. Ari Behn
      • Miss Maud Angelica Behn (2003)
      • Miss Leah Isadora Behn (2005)
      • Miss Emma Tallulah Behn (2008)
  • Crown Prince Haakon (1973)

His father fell ill in the spring of 1990, Crown Prince Harald began attending to the affairs of the state as Crown Prince Regent{Source}. When his father passed away in 17 January 1991, Crown Prince Harald immediately became King Harald, and he swore to oath to uphold the Constitution of Norway in the Storting{Source}. The Queen was also present at the ceremony, which was the first time since Queen Maud{Source}. In accordance with their own wishes, the King and Queen were consecrated in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on 23 June 1991{Source}.   In connection with the consecration, the King and Queen conducted a 10-day tour of Southern Norway{Source}. The following year, the entire Royal Family conducted a 22-day tour of Norway’s four northernmost counties{Source}. 

Since the introduction of parliamentarism in 1884, the official duties of the King have been primarily ceremonial as the custodian of royal tradition{Source}. The King heads the Council of State every Friday, and formally opens the new session of the Storting each year in October{Source}.  No acts of legislation or decisions approved by the Council of State are valid until sanctioned by the King and countersigned by the prime minister{Source}. While the language of the Constitution still states that the executive power is vested in the King, the actual power lies with the Government{Source}. The King has an important role to play during a change of government{Source}. Usually, the retiring prime minister will advise the King on who should assume the role of the new prime minister{Source}. If the parliamentary situation is unclear, however, the King must exercise his own discretion in selecting a new prime minister{Source}.

The King and Queen pay official state visits to other countries, and act as host to foreign heads of state visiting Norway {Source}. The King holds official audiences at the Palace for newly-appointed ambassadors of foreign countries who are delivering their credentials{Source}. King Harald holds the rank of General in the Army and Air Force, and of Admiral in the Navy. He is the nation’s highest-ranking officer.The day-to-day activities conducted at the Royal Palace in Oslo include official audiences, and discussions with the prime minister, foreign minister and representatives from the armed forces{Source}. The King frequently pays visits to private and public institutions on his journeys to various parts of the country{Source}. Every year the King and Queen pay a visit to a county in Norway, which each visits last 2-3 days, during which time they pay visits to several municipalities{Source}. The King and Queen often use the Royal Yacht Norge to travel along the Norwegian coast{Source}. Every year in the afternoon of 17 May, the King and Queen visit one of Oslo’s districts{Source}.  This gives them the opportunity to meet the population and gain an insight into the various activities taking place throughout the capital{Source}. The King receives many invitations to events and commemorative activities all over the country, and tries, as far as his programme will allow, to be present{Source}. In recent years the King has also become involved in issues related to welfare and conditions for children{Source}.  The King regularly receives letters from children whose everyday lives are difficult, and has on occasion received children and groups of children for talks at the Palace{Source}. 

In the little spare time that King Harald has, he enjoys sports and outdoor receation, and is an active hunter and fisherman{Source}. During Olympic years, he and Queen Sonja can often be seen at events, cheering on "their" team{Source}. The King and Queen were actively involved in connection with the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer. The King served as honorary chair of the Lillehammer Olympic Organising Committee.In 1964 he carried the Norwegian flag during the opening ceremony for the Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo{Source}.
The King was Chairman of the Advisory Board of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 1982{Source}. During the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oslo in 2011 he was present as an interested spectator at all the events{Source}. In January 2011 the King was awarded the Sports Gala Honorary Award at the annual Sports Gala{Source}. The King has distinguished himself on several occasions in national and international sailing competitions{Source}.   In 1987 King Harald and his crew won the World Championships with his one-tonne yacht, the Fram X, and in 2005 they won the European Championships with the Fram XV{Source}. The King remains an avid yachtsman, participating in national and international regattas each year{Source}. 

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