- Kingdom of Iceland
Infobox Former Country
conventional_long_name=Kingdom of Iceland
status_text= Personal union with the
Kingdom of Denmark
flag_p1= Flag of Denmark.svg
stat_area1 = 103000
stat_pop1 = 127791
stat_year1 = 1944
footnotes=¹ Both were
de factoofficial languages.The Kingdom of Icelandwas a constitutional monarchylasting from 1st December 1918until 17th June 1944, when it became an independent republic.
Origins in Danish rule
Iceland had been under the control of the
Danish Crownsince 1380, although formally a Norwegian possession until 1814. In 1874, a thousand years after the first acknowledged settlement, Denmark granted Iceland home rule, which again was expanded in 1904. The constitution, written in 1874, was revised in 1903, and a minister for Icelandic affairs, residing in Reykjavík, was made responsible to the Althing, the Icelandic parliament.
The Act of Union, a
1st December, 1918, agreement with Denmark, recognized Iceland as a fully sovereign state united with Denmark under a common king. The Kingdom of Iceland established its own flag and asked that Denmark represent its foreign affairs and defense interests. The Act would be up for revision in 1940 and could be revoked three years later, if an agreement wasn't reached.
World War II and the establishment of the Republic
occupation of Denmarkon 9th April, 1940, severed communications between Iceland and Denmark. As a result, on April 10, the Parliament of Iceland, Alþingi, elected to take control of foreign affairs, electing a provisional governor, Sveinn Björnsson, who later became the republic's first president. During the first year of World War II, Iceland strictly enforced a position of neutrality, taking action against both the United Kingdomand German forces violating the laws of neutrality. On 10th May 1940, "Operation Fork" was launched and UK military forces began an invasion of Icelandby sailing into Reykjavíkharbour. The government of Iceland issued a protest against what it called a "flagrant violation" of Icelandic neutrality. On the day of the invasion, prime minister Hermann Jónassonread a radio announcement telling Icelanders to treat the UK troops with the politeness due to guests. The Allied occupation of Iceland would last throughout the war.
At the peak of their occupation of Iceland, the UK had around 25,000 troops stationed in Iceland, all but eliminating unemployment in the
Reykjavíkarea and other strategically important places. In July 1941 responsibility for Iceland's defence passed to the United States of Americaunder a USA-Icelandic defence agreement. The UK needed all the forces it could muster closer to home and thus coerced the Alþingi into agreeing to a USA occupation force. Up to 40,000 soldiers were stationed on the island, outnumbering all grown Icelandic men. (At the time Iceland had a population of around 120,000.)
Following a referendum on 24th May, Iceland formally became an independent republic on
17th June 1944. Since Denmark was still occupied by Nazi Germany, many Danes felt offended that the step should have been taken at this time. Despite this the Danish king, Christian X, sent a message of congratulations to the Icelandic people.
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.