Harald V of Norway

Harald V

King Harald V in 2013
King of Norway
Reign 17 January 1991 – present
Benediction 23 June 1991[1]
Predecessor Olav V
Heir apparent Crown Prince Haakon
Prime Ministers
Born (1937-02-21) 21 February 1937
Skaugum, Akershus, Norway
Spouse Sonja Haraldsen (m. 1968)
Princess Märtha Louise
Crown Prince Haakon
House Glücksburg[2]
Father Olav V of Norway
Mother Princess Märtha of Sweden
Religion Church of Norway

Harald V (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈhɑrːɑɫ]; born 21 February 1937) has been the King of Norway since 1991.

Harald was the only son of Olav V and Princess Märtha of Sweden and was the first Norwegian-born prince since Olav IV, who was born in 1370. He succeeded to the throne upon the death of his father on 17 January 1991.

In 1968, he married Sonja Haraldsen with whom he has two children, Princess Märtha Louise (b. 1971) and Crown Prince Haakon (b. 1973), heir-apparent to the Norwegian throne.

Early life and education


Prince Harald was born in Skaugum and was baptized in the Royal Chapel in the Royal Palace in Oslo on 31 March 1937 by Bishop Johan Lunde. His godparents were: his paternal grandparents, the King and Queen of Norway; his maternal grandparents, the Duke and Duchess of Västergötland; his maternal uncle, the King of Belgium; his first cousin once removed, the King of the United Kingdom; his paternal grandaunt, Queen Mary of the United Kingdom; and his second cousin, the Crown Princess of Denmark. His parents already had two daughters, Princess Ragnhild and Princess Astrid.

Second World War

Prince Harald in 1955

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.[3] 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.[3]

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. King Gustaf V has been accounted to have 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 Minister 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.[3][4] 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 United States. On 17 August the Crown Princess and her children left for the United States from Petsamo, Finland, aboard the United States Army transport ship American Legion.[3]

Harald and his mother and sisters lived in Washington, D.C., during the war,[5] while his father, Crown 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.[6] 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.

Harald visited Norwegian servicemen on training in the United States. The prince also made visits outside America, travelling north to visit Norwegian personnel at the training base "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 member of the royal family to attend public school. Amidst this, in 1954 tragedy struck as he lost his mother to cancer and 4 years later in 1958 he would lose his maternal grandmother Princess Ingeborg of Denmark. 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 enrolment 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.[6] He was a keen rower during his student days at Oxford and was taught to row by fellow student and friend Nick Bevan, later a leading British school rowing coach. 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.


King Juan Carlos I of Spain on visit in Norway (2006)

Harald attended the 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 at the time. The couple have two children, Princess Märtha Louise and Crown Prince Haakon, heir apparent to the Norwegian throne.

He succeeded to the throne upon the death of his father Olav V on 17 January 1991.

The King heads the Council of State at Oslo Palace every Friday. He also has weekly meetings with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. He receives foreign envoys, and opens parliament every October. 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 bloc 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.

Until 2012, the King of Norway was, according to the constitution, the formal head of the Church of Norway. The constitutional amendment of 21 May 2012 made the King no longer the formal head but is still required to be of the Evangelical Lutheran religion.

An avid sailor,[7] Harald represented Norway in the yachting events of Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964[8] and in Mexico City in 1968[6] 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 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 the King and Queen attending later in the games.

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.[9]

Twice since the start of the twenty-first century King Harald was unable to perform his monarchical duties due to ill-health: in December 2003 to mid-April 2004 due to urinary bladder cancer, and in April to early June 2005 due to aortic stenosis. Crown Prince Haakon served as the country's regent on both occasions.

In 2015, he became the world's first reigning monarch to visit Antarctica, specifically the Norwegian dependency Queen Maud Land.[10]

Titles, styles, arms



Honours and medals

See also List of honours of the Norwegian Royal Family by country

The King 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, the Crown Prince Residence at Skaugum, and the Royal Mausoleum at Akershus Castle.

National honours and medals

The King is Grand Master of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav and the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit.

Medal record
World Championships
1987 World Championship Sailing
1982 World Championship Sailing
1988 World Championship Sailing
European Championships
2005 European Championship Sailing

Foreign honours

In the British Army, Harald V was the final Colonel-in-Chief of the Green Howards.[11] He is also an honorary Colonel in the British Royal Marines.[12] He is patron of the Anglo-Norse Society in London, together with Queen Elizabeth II, his second cousin. As he is a direct descendant of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, Harald is the 73rd in the line of succession to the British throne.[13] He is the first foreign monarch in the British line of succession. He is a Stranger Knight of the Garter, an Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, and a Recipient of the Royal Victorian Chain, as well as numerous other orders of chivalry.

Northern European countries

Other countries

The mark ° shows honours mention on his official website page about decorations

Miscellaneous honours

Harald V received an honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law from Oxford University in 2006 (as did his father, King Olav, in 1937, and his grandfather, King Haakon, in 1943).[29] The King also received honorary doctorates from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland in 1994,[30] the University of Strathclyde in Scotland in 1985, Waseda University in Japan in 2001, and Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, in 2015. He is also an honorary fellow at Balliol College, Oxford.


He is closely related to other European monarchs. He is the first cousin once removed of King Philippe of Belgium and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, the second cousin of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, and the second cousin once removed of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

Patrilineal descent


Name Birth Marriage
Date Spouse Issue
Princess Märtha Louise September 22, 1971 May 24, 2002 Ari Behn
    • Maud Angelica Behn, born 29 April 2003
    • Leah Isadora Behn, born 8 April 2005
    • Emma Tallulah Behn, born 29 September 2008
Crown Prince Haakon Magnus July 20, 1973 August 25, 2001 Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby


  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. "The Royal Family". Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Hegge, Per Egil; Harald V, En biografi; N.W. Damm & Søn AS; 2006.
  4. "Kidnapper Foiled?". Time. 2 September 1940. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  5. "Non-Political Campaign". Time Magazine. 9 September 1940. p. 2. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  6. 1 2 3 "Those Apprentice Kings and Queens Who May – One Day – Ascend a Throne," New York Times. 14 November 1971.
  7. "Victory by Design". Time Magazine. 27 September 1963. p. 1. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  8. "HP-Time.com". Time Magazine. 26 June 1964. p. 2. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  9. Sandefjords Blad on the King's performance in the World Championship (Norwegian) Retrieved 10 September 2007.
  10. "King Harald visits Antarctic namesake". The Local. 11 February 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
    "Sun shines for king in Antarctica". newsinenglish.no. 11 February 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
    "King Harald begins Antarctic visit". The Norway Post. NRK/Aftenposten. 11 February 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
  11. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 52834. p. 2582. 14 February 1992. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  12. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 48634. p. 7795. 9 June 1981. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  13. Line of Succession to the British Throne
  14. "Noblesse et Royautés", Guests to Victoria of Sweden's wedding, Photo
  15. Noblesse et Royautés (French), State visit of President of Finland in Norway, 2012, Photo
  16. Lithuanian Presidency Archived 19 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine., Lithuanian Orders searching form
  17. Photo of a State visit of Lithuania to Norway, March 2011
  18. "King of Norway awarded Honorary Freedom of Newcastle". Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 18 December 2008.
  19. Solholm, Rolleiv (14 November 2008). "King Harald receives honorary title". Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Norway Post. Retrieved 14 November 2008.
  20. "Reply to a parliamentary question" (PDF) (in German). p. 170. Retrieved 8 October 2012.
  21. Belga Pictures, State visit of Norway in Belgium, May 2003, Group photo, Harald V & Paola, Albert II & Sonja
  22. Italian Presidency website, decorations – Harald V : Grand CrossCollar
  23. 1 2 3 Portuguese presidential website, Orders search form
  24. Slovak republic website, State honours : 1st Class received in 2010 (click on "Holders of the Order of the 1st Class White Double Cross" to see the holders' table)
  25. Boletín Oficial del Estado
  26. Boletín Oficial del Estado
  27. Boletín Oficial del Estado
  28. "Official State visit of Norway (Photo of Order of State and Order of St. Olaf)". Presidency of Republic of Turkey. 5 November 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013.
  29. Article in VG on the honorary doctorate (Norwegian)
  30. webperson@hw.ac.uk. "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". www1.hw.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016-04-04.
  31. "State Visit continues". The Royal House of Norway. Retrieved 16 March 2014.
  32. "New land area named after King Harald". The Norway Post. NRK. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Harald V of Norway.
Harald V
Born: 21 February 1937
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Olav V
King of Norway
Heir apparent:
Crown Prince Haakon
Norwegian royalty
Preceded by
Crown Prince of Norway
Succeeded by
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