Harald V of Norway

Harald V of Norway
Harald V
King of Norway
Reign 17 January 1991 – present
Consecration[1] 23 June 1991(1991-06-23) (aged 54)
Predecessor Olav V
Heir apparent Crown Prince Haakon
Consort Sonja Haraldsen
Princess Märtha Louise
Crown Prince Haakon
House House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
Father Olav V of Norway
Mother Princess Märtha of Sweden
Born 21 February 1937 (1937-02-21) (age 74)
Skaugum, Norway
Religion Christian, Church of Norway (Lutheran)[2]
Norwegian Royal Family
Royal Arms of Norway.svg

HM The King *
HM The Queen *

v · d · e
Monarchical styles of
King Harald V of Norway
Royal Arms of Norway.svg
Reference style His Majesty
(Norwegian: Hans Majestet)
Spoken style Your Majesty
(Deres Majestet / Dykkar Majestet)
Alternative style Sir

Harald V (born 21 February 1937) is the king of Norway. He succeeded to the throne of Norway upon the death of his father Olav V on 17 January 1991. The son of the then-Crown Prince Olav and of Princess Märtha of Sweden, Harald was born at the Crown Prince Residence at Skaugum, Akershus, Norway.

A member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, originally from Northern Germany, Harald became the first Norwegian-born prince since Olav IV, who was born in 1370. Harald V is the formal head of the Church of Norway and the Norwegian Armed Forces. He has two children, Crown Prince Haakon and Princess Märtha Louise. His grandchildren are Maud Angelica (2003), Leah Isadora (2005), Emma Tallulah (2008), Princess Ingrid Alexandra (2004), and Prince Sverre Magnus (2005).

Harald has two older sisters: Princess Ragnhild of Norway, Mrs. Lorentzen, (Ragnhild Alexandra, born Oslo, 9 June 1930), who lives in Brazil, and Princess Astrid of Norway, Mrs. Ferner, (Astrid Maud Ingeborg, born Oslo, 12 February 1932), who lives in Oslo.

He is 8th in the line of succession to the headship of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg[3]


Childhood and education

Crown Prince Harald

Prince Harald was born in Skaugum. The young prince was baptised in the Royal Chapel in the Royal Palace in Oslo on 31 March by Bishop Johan Lunde.

In 1940 the entire royal family had to flee their homes because of the German invasion. The dramatic journey northbound was marked by the Germans' repeated attempts to kill the King through bombing. 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.[4] 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.[4]

Prince Harald spent the following days in Sälen before relocating to Prince Carl Bernadotte's home in Frötuna on 16 April. On 26 April the group moved to Drottningholm in Stockholm. Accounts tell us that King Gustaf V 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 Minster 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.[4][5] 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. They started planning for them to be relocated to the USA. On 17 August the Crown Princess and her children left for the USA from Petsamo, Finland, aboard the ship American Legion.[4]

Harald and his mother and sisters lived in Washington, D.C., during the war,[6] while his father, 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.[7] 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.

Prince Harald visited Norwegian servicemen on training in the United States. The prince also visited outside America, travelling north to visit Norwegians training in Canada's "Little Norway" in Ontario, Canada. He attended The White Hall Country School from 1943. Prince Harald returned to Norway along 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 royal to attend a public school. In 1955 he graduated from Oslo katedralskole and in the autumn of that year, Harald began studies at the University of Oslo. Later he attended the Cavalry Officers' Candidate School at Trandum, followed by enrollment at the Norwegian Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1959.

In 1960, Harald entered Balliol College, Oxford where he studied history, economics and politics.[7] He was a keen rower during his student days at Oxford. 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.

Adult life


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The Crown Prince of Norway served as deputy of the King from the day he was 18 years of age. Crown Prince Harald attended 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.

Harald married a commoner, Sonja Haraldsen, at Oslo Domkirke in Oslo on 29 August 1968, a marriage that sparked much public controversy. The couple have two children, Princess Märtha Louise and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon, heir to the Norwegian throne.

The King heads the government meetings at Oslo Palace every Friday (Council of State). He also has weekly meetings with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. He receives foreign envoys, and opens parliament every September. According to the Norwegian constitution, he appoints his government. Since 1884 parliamentarism has been in place in Norway, so the government has to have support from Parliament. The King appoints the leader of the parliamentary block with 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. He travels extensively throughout Norway and makes official state visits to other countries.

An avid sailor,[8] Harald represented Norway in the yachting events of Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964[9] and in Mexico City in 1968[7] and the Munich 1972. The Crown Prince carried the Norwegian flag at the opening parade of the 1964 Summer Olympics. In 1994, both the King and Crown Prince Haakon played roles during the opening ceremony of the Lillehammer Olympics. The King declared 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 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 obtained a sixth place.[10]

Twice during recent years, King Harald has been unable to perform his monarchial duties, owing to hospitalization and convalescence: in December 2003 to mid-April 2004 due to urinary bladder cancer, and in April to early June 2005 due to aortic stenosis (for details see "The King's health", below). Crown Prince Haakon served as the country's regent on both occasions.

Positions as King of Norway and honorary titles

As King of Norway

Royal Monogram

The King is the nominal head of the Church of Norway.

He 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 and the Crown Prince Residence at Skaugum, as well as the Royal Mausoleum at Akershus Castle.

Honorary titles

In the British Army, the King was the final Colonel-in-Chief of the Green Howards. It remains to be seen whether there will continue to be an active association between the 2nd Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) and the Norwegian Royal Family. He is also an honorary Colonel in the British Royal Marines.

The King is a Knight of the Garter, and is The Grand Master of the Order of St. Olav. He is also a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, and a recipient of the Royal Victorian Chain as well as numerous other orders of chivalry.

The King is patron of the Anglo-Norse Society in London, together with Queen Elizabeth II, his second cousin. He is also patron of the Norwegian-American Foundation (Norge-Amerika Foreningen) and the Norse Federation (Nordmanns-Forbundet) in the United States.

He received the honorary degree Doctor of Civil Law from Oxford University in 2006 (as did his father, King Olav, in 1937, and his grandfather, King Haakon, in 1943).[11] The King has earlier been appointed an honorary doctor of law by the University of Strathclyde (1985) in Scotland and by Waseda University (2001) in Japan (2001). He is also an honorary fellow at Balliol College, Oxford.

King Harald V is Honorary President of the Offshore Racing Congress[12] and also the Co-President of Honour of the International Sailing Federation with the King Constantine II of Greece.[13]

Other honours

Medal record
World Championships
Gold 1987 World Championship Sailing
Silver 1982 World Championship Sailing
Bronze 1988 World Championship Sailing
European Championships
Gold 2005 European Championship Sailing


On 1 December 2003, King Harald was announced to be suffering from bladder cancer. A successful operation took place on 8 December at Norway's National Hospital, Rikshospitalet, in Oslo: his bladder was removed and a new one constructed. The King was then on sick leave from all official duties. Crown Prince Haakon was Norway's regent during King Harald's illness and convalescence. The King resumed his duties on 13 April 2004.

The King was once known to be a chain-smoker, but quit that habit entirely when he was diagnosed with cancer.

On 1 April 2005, Harald underwent successful heart surgery, an aortic valve replacement, correcting his aortic stenosis. It had been known for some time that he had this condition; however, until early 2005 it had only been of a moderate degree. During the three-hour operation at Rikshospitalet the doctors also performed a coronary bypass procedure on the King. On 10 April, it was announced that the King had also undergone a pericardiocentesis to treat a complication of surgery, a pericardial effusion (an accumulation of fluid around the heart).

After the two operations in the spring of 2005, King Harald remained on sick leave for almost two months, Crown Prince Haakon again substituting as the country's regent. The King returned to work on 7 June, a date which carried particular significance in 2005, with Norway celebrating the centennial of the dissolution of the 1814–1905 union with Sweden. The King recuperated well enough to win the European Championships in ocean sailing just three months after his latest operation.

Following advice from his personal physician, King Harald finally decided in late 2005 to scale down his official duties, primarily effected by taking Wednesdays off and trying to keep weekends free as much as possible. However, he planned to continue attending weekend sports events of interest, and to lead Friday Cabinet meetings and carry out other constitutional duties.



Patrilineal descent



  1. ^ Coronation 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. ^ VG – Kongen og kronprinsen på moskébesøk: – Kongen i Norge skal være kristen
  3. ^ *Louda, Jiri; Michael Maclagan (1981). Lines of Succession. London: Orbis Publishing. ISBN 0 85613 276 4. 
  4. ^ a b c d Hegge, Per Egil; Harald V, En biografi; N.W. Damm & Søn AS; 2006
  5. ^ "Kidnapper Foiled?". Time. 2 September 1940. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,764542,00.html. Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  6. ^ "Non-Political Campaign". Time Magazine: p. 2. 9 September 1940. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,764591-2,00.html. Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  7. ^ a b c "Those Apprentice Kings and Queens Who May – One Day – Ascend a Throne," New York Times. 14 November 1971.
  8. ^ "Victory by Design". Time Magazine: p. 1. 27 September 1963. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,875198,00.html. Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  9. ^ "HP-Time.com". Time Magazine: p. 2. 26 June 1964. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,898168-2,00.html. Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  10. ^ Sandefjords Blad on the King's performance in the World Championship (Norwegian) Retrieved 10. September 2007
  11. ^ Article in VG on the honorary doctorate (Norwegian)
  12. ^ ORC web site. Committees. Retrieved November 2010
  13. ^ http://www.sailing.org/26220.php
  14. ^ "King of Norway awarded Honorary Freedom of Newcastle". Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. http://www.norway.org.uk/norwayuk/news/newcastle.htm. Retrieved 18 December 2008. 
  15. ^ Solholm, Rolleiv (14 November 2008). "King Harald receives honorary title". Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (Norway Post). http://www.norwaypost.no/Culture/King-Harald-receives-honorary-title/menu-id-32.html. Retrieved 14 November 2008. [dead link]
  16. ^ Royal House web page on the King's patronages Retrieved 7 November 2007
  17. ^ "Oslo Militære Samfunds historie" (in Norwegian). Oslo Militære Samfund. http://www.oslomilsamfund.no/oms/oms_historie.html. Retrieved 5 February 2009. 

External links

Harald V
Cadet branch of the House of Oldenburg
Born: 21 February 1937
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Olav V
King of Norway
1991 – present
Royal titles
Preceded by
Amelia Etherington
Line of succession to the British throne Succeeded by
The Crown Prince of Norway
Preceded by
Count Christian of Rosenborg
House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg line of succession
8th position
Succeeded by
The Crown Prince of Norway

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