1905-2005, April biography: Olav V
Friday July 3rd, 1903 the following words were printed in The Times:
“Her Royal Highness Princess Charles of Denmark (Princess Maud) gave birth to a son this evening at 5.50. Both mother and son are well.”
There were no big headlines in the newspapers, since the newborn boy was too far down the line to the throne of Denmark, and even further down the line in Great Britain. But to his parents he was a welcome child, for after all, they had been married seven years.
Born July 2nd, at Appleton House, Prince Carl and Princess Maud’s house in Sandringham, he would spend the first few months of his life in Great Britain, before moving to Copenhagen, Denmark with his parents where they lived in an apartment in Bredgade.
On August 11th, 1903, he was christened Alexander Edward Christian Frederik: Alexander after his grandmother, Queen Alexandra of Great Britain; Edward after his grandfather, King Edward VII of Great Britain; Christian and Frederik because he was in line to the Danish throne. His grandmother, Queen Alexandra of Great Britain, nicknamed him Hamlet, because he was her little Danish prince.
In 1905, the Norwegian Stortinget offered the throne to Prince Carl of Sweden with Prince Carl of Denmark as the alternate choice. However, the Norwegian delegates secretly offered the Norwegian throne to Prince Carl while negotiations with Prince Carl of Sweden were still ongoing. Little Prince Alexander received a Norwegian flag from one of the delegates. He became so fond of the flag that he refused to part with it. Unfortunately for the sake of diplomacy, the flag was taken away, when the Swedish Crown Prince came for a visit before the selection process was complete.
As his father ascended to the Norwegian throne in November, 1905, little Alexander’s life changed forever. From a life of relative anonymity, Alexander was elevated to Crown Prince of Norway. His name was changed from Prince Alexander Edward Christian Frederik of Denmark to that of Crown Prince Olav of Norway.
He led a quiet and almost solitary life. His playmates included children of his parents’ friends, his cousins, and sometimes children of the servants at the Palace. He remained shy during the parties that Queen Maud enjoyed throwing for children, and it was during one of those occasions that the following scenario took place:
A young girl sat down in one of the chairs in a room. “You can’t sit there,” seven-year-old Olav objected, “That’s Daddy’s place.” King Haakon, who had been a witness to the exchange, sat down in the chair, and pulled the little girl onto his lap. The Crown Prince still had objections: “You can’t sit there either. That’s Mummy’s place.”
Queen Maud wanted Olav to live like other Norwegian boys. She took him skiing at least once, if not twice every day, weather permitting. She encouraged him into ski-jumping as he became older. When he was 15 years old, Olav got his first sailboat, and sailing became a vital part of his life.
When it came time to start Olav’s schooling, a governess, Halldis Bomhoff, was chosen. She was responsible for Olav’s education, but Queen Maud provided help with some subjects such as art. At some point, Olav was diagnosed as being dyslectic, but it only served to inspire him to put more effort into his schoolwork.
King Haakon formulated the plans for his son’s education, and he spent much time overseeing the Crown Prince with his homework. He felt that his own education was lacking when he began his naval career in Denmark and he was determined that Olav would have a better advantage than he had.
Halldis Bomhoff taught the Crown Prince until fifth grade, then Sigurd Halling, came from Halling School in Oslo, or Christiania as it was called then, to complete his middle education. Physical education was taught at the Palace, to where a whole class of boys from Halling School marched to have physical education with him. Olav had his own physical trainer, Captain Ramm Østgaard, to ensure that he was as physically fit as other boys his own age because he had very few friends of the same age with which to roughhouse at home.
In the latter years of Olav’s education, King Haakon was persuaded to let Olav attend school on a part time basis with boys his own age. It expanded his social sphere, as he became involved in the school’s extracurricular activities, such as the High School Society every Saturday, where he served briefly as Chairman. For a time, he was also the school’s newspaper editor.
Norwegian education finishes with a celebration called Russetid. Olav participated in Russetid, and unlike earlier years when he had a curfew, that year he could party as long as he wanted. King Haakon and Queen Maud had given Olav permission to hold the prom at the Palace with his classmates on the evening of May 17th. Not everyone can enjoy such an experience.
Two weeks after graduating from Halling School, Olav started at Krigsskolen, an Army Officers Academy. The program took three years to complete and Olav graduated fourth of his class. Since all 15 exams were judged anonymously, the results were based strictly on performance and not on the fact that Olav was a Crown Prince. Olav had 1.67 GPA, with 1.0 being the best.
Every year Krigsskolen had a ball and this became quite problematic for the Crown Prince when he reached the age where his romantic entanglements were followed in the newspapers all over Europe. Inviting someone to the ball was practically like inviting them to share the front pages of the newspapers. Olav made sure never to invite the same girl twice. And, it was impossible to invite the girl he really wanted to ask.
After he had finished his education in the Norwegian Army, Crown Prince Olav went to England in 1924 where he had been accepted to Balliol College at Oxford University. He studied social economy, newer political history and international law for two years and obtained a “Diploma in Economics and Political Science.” During his two years at the college, Olav rowed on an eight-man team for Balliol; he played Rugby; he was a member of the ski-team and he took part in fencing.
After his years at Oxford, Olav focused on sailing and official duties. He was rewarded for his hard work in sailing when he was part of a crew that won a gold medal in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. But Olav returned home with something even better than a gold medal from Amsterdam.
Princess Märtha of Sweden had also been in Amsterdam during the Olympics. And, on one of the evenings the two of them walked all over the city, along the channels, discussing their feelings and a possible future together. It was a successful courtship and Olav returned home secretly engaged to a Swedish princess.
The secret engagement lasted until January 14th, 1929, when it was publicly announced in Stockholm. Olav had taken the morning train from Oslo the previous day, travelling incognito as Olav Haakonsen.
The Crown Prince and his princess were wed in Oslo on March 21st, 1929. One of the wedding presents was the estate of Skaugum, just outside Oslo, and that was where they settled down after they returned from their honeymoon to the south of Europe..
Unfortunately, the main building at Skaugum burned down just after they had finished the final renovations. The family of two, almost three, moved into the Palace, where their first child, Princess Ragnhild was born not long after the move. And while they waited for the house to be rebuilt, they also welcomed a second daughter, Princess Astrid, into the family.
After they moved back into the new building in 1932 life settled down. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess began to gradually take on more official duties as both the King and Queen were getting older. But their children all say that it didn’t feel like their parents were away at all, they were always there tucking them in at night, and being there for them. When Crown Prince Olav was responsible for their bathing, he just took them and lumped them all into the tub, with their clothes on as both children and clothes had to be washed.
In 1937 a new heir to the throne was born, and with Prince Harald the family was complete.
Crown Prince Olav enjoyed spending time with his children. Before the war, he took the two girls sailing and taught them to swim in the summers and he taught them to skate and to ski in the winters. But the war interrupted their lives and prevented Olav from enjoying these activities with Harald.
In 1939 Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha visited the United States, and the Norwegians who had emigrated there. They visited President Roosevelt, and a friendship developed between the President and the Norwegian Royals, a friendship that would prove very useful a year later when the Germans invaded Norway.
Crown Prince Olav worried as he followed the development in the budget for the Norwegian military in 1938/39, especially when he looked at the rest of the world, but as a Crown Prince he couldn’t interfere with the politics. Both the King and the Crown Prince were very sceptical as to what was happening in Hitler’s Germany.
On April 9th, 1940, the Germans invaded Norway and, with a stroke of luck, the cannon Moses at Oscarsborg fortress hit the troop transport “Blücher.” This gave the Royal family, the Cabinet and the Storting a chance to escape Oslo, along with the gold reserves from the Norwegian bank.
They first made it to Hamar, but the German forces made quick progress and they had to move to Elverum. It was there that the Storting re-delegated their powers to the cabinet so that they had full power to act on behalf of Norway until such a time that the safety of the realm was at no longer risk.
It was at Elverum that the Norwegian Royal Family became separated, a separation that would last 5 years, as Crown Princess Märtha and the children left for Sweden and the adult males stayed behind to fight.
The Norwegians fought, with the help of Allied forces, but it soon became clear that the cabinet and the royals had to leave the country lest they would be captured by the Germans. They first left for Molde to the north of Norway, which was still free, but once Molde fell, they escaped to Great Britain
While in Great Britain, Crown Prince Olav and his father lived together, and they were a comfort to each other while the rest of the family was in the United States.
In 1944 Crown Prince Olav was proclaimed Commander of the Military forces when it came tiem to liberate Norway. He was the first member of the Royal Family to return to Norway, in May 1940, and had the difficult task of starting the clean up at the Palace and at Skaugum, in addition to performing his military duties.
The return of the rest of the royal family began a stabile period in their lives, one that lasted until Crown Princess Märtha died after 25 years of marriage. Her death cemented a closer bond between Crown Prince Olav and King Haakon. They were two widowers trying to get through life together, but a few years later when King Olav began his reign, he was alone.
After Crown Princess Märtha’s death in 1954, Olav was linked to a long list of ladies by the press, among them Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother to whom he was rumoured to have proposed marriage. In the book “Olav – Menneske og Monark” (Human and Monarch) he went as far as to say that Crown Princess Märtha was the only woman he had ever had such a relationship with and that he didn’t want the rumours to stay around after his passing and pass into accepted truth.
In 1957 after his father’s death, Olav became King of Norway. It was a position for which he had trained almost all his life. But, because as a Crown Prince, Olav had remained in the background and in his father’s shadow, people doubted that he would be as successful as King Haakon had been. The doubts would prove unjustified. King Olav took the motto “Alt for Norge” (All for Norway) as his father had done in 1905, and as his son would do in 1991, and he lived by it.
Coronations are not necessary in Norway as decreed by a law passed just after King Haakon’s and Queen Maud’s coronation, but King Olav wanted the Church’s blessing on his reign. The ceremony took place in Nidarosdomen, the old cathedral in Trondheim where his parent’s coronation had taken place.
Olav’s oldest daughter, Princess Ragnhild married Erling Lorentzen in 1953, when it was King Haakon who approved the marriage. The approval of his two youngest children’s marriages was more troublesome to King Olav. Princess Astrid had fallen in love with a man who was divorced, and certain people within the church had problems with the remarriage of divorced people. But as the Princess wasn’t in line to the throne, it was seen as a minor problem that resolved itself with time. What was more troubling to the general public was Harald’s choice of bride because she was a commoner. It was also troubling to the King as it went against everything he had been raised to believe. But, in 1968, the last of his children received the permission for which he had waited so long, and Norway had a Crown Princess again.
Since King Olav was the one leading Miss Sonja Haraldsen down the aisle where she was to become Crown Princess Sonja of Norway, one can safely say that he had nothing against Sonja.
King Olav enjoyed his children and grandchildren and he used to invite the ones living in Norway to dinner every Sunday either at the Palace or at Bygdøy.
In deference to his mother’s heritage and due to his love of dogs, he also owned several throughout his life.
King Olav travelled much, all over Norway, and the world. He was the first Norwegian king to visit an oil rig in the North Sea. He opened the first parliament of the Sami people. He was eager that the immigrants to Norway be integrated into Norwegian society, much as he and his parents had been when they arrived in Norway.
In the last years of his life King Olav suffered from various illnesses, but in the last month before his death he felt as if he was getting better. A few days before passing away, he attended a birthday party for his brother-in-law, Prince Carl Bernadotte. He had told his daughter, Princess Ragnhild, who was visiting with him, that he intended to leave after dessert. The one who was nearly the last to leave the party was King Olav.
On January 17, 1991, King Olav passed away at Kongsseteren surrounded by his three children.
Hours after the news became public, people gathered outside the Palace to light candles in the snow as a tribute to King Olav who was known as “The People’s King.”
Based on/pictures scanned from:
Olav V: 30 år på tronen
Olav – Menneske og Monark, Jo Benkow
Fra et folk i takknemlighet.
1) Baby Olav
2) Father and Son, 1904. Copenhagen
3) 1905, Spring.
5) Spring 1906
6) 1908 with cousins in England.
4) ca. 1915
1) 1929, the engagement
2) With Märtha
3) Portrait taken during WWII
4) Arriving in Oslo after the war.
5) Jumping in Holmenkollen before the marriage.
3) At the cabin
4) With Haakon Magnus and Märtha Louise
5) With Great grandson, Olav Alexander Lorentzen
6) Opening Stortinget
10) With his father.
1) With his grandchildren at one of the Sunday dinners
2) Greeting a dear friend, the Queen mother
3) October, 1990
4) 3 generations
6) People lighting candles outside of the Palace
7) People lighting candles outside of the Palace. The word Takk is spelled out in the snow, meaning Thank you,.
Other threads of interest in regards to King Olav
New Book Doubted that King Olav was the son of King Haakon: http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums...ead.php?t=3818
Funeral of King Olav V: http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums...read.php?t=501
King Olav remembered: http://www.theroyalforums.com/forums...read.php?t=465
In 1989 King Olav met Pope John Paul II.
1. Olav waving the Norwegian flag, 1905
2. with his aunt Toria, 1905
3-4. posing for the camera
5. snowboarding, 1906
6. posing with a snowball, 1906
7. with his pony, 1906
8. posing on his snowboard, 1906
9. playing in the snow, 1906
10. on his skis, 1907
1. Olav greeting the officers onboard a ship in the Mediterranean, 1905
2. by himself in Bygdoe, 1906
3. with daddy in Bygdoe, 1906
4. with mommy in Bygdoe, 1906
5. posing with his skis, 1906
6. solitary olav, 1909
7. with his horse, 1910
8. posing against a tree, 1911
9. cheerful olav, 1912
10. royal teenager, 1917
1. Olav with cousin Maud Macduff (L), his mother (2nd L), grandmother Queen Alexandra (3rd L), aunts Toria (behind him) and Louise (R), 1920
2. posing with his skis, 1921
3. with parents, 1924
4. at his desk, 1926
5. in his naval uniform, 1930
6. giving commendations to soldiers, 1933
7. with wife and daughters, 1936
8. sailing, 1936
9. with his father, 1940
10. with Princess Martha visiting Finnmark in reindeer herder clothes, unknown
Thanks norwegianne for taking the time to write about King Olav's life. I have learned so much about his roles as a man and a king from reading your bio.
You and pdas have posted so many wonderful pictures that I have never seen before. Thank you so much.
Wow thank you!
I am not a monarchist by any stretch of the imagination but i am really enjoying learning about parts of norwegian history.
Until Mary married Freddy I didn't pay much attention to the non-British royals. Really the monaco royal family were the only non-british royal family that gets any coverage down here (well until mary became CP Mary, now we get more of DRF news).
In the photo from 1991 with His Majesty lying in his coffin, it looks as if he is just wearing a dress shirt. Is that what he would have been buried in? I ask only because when King Baudouin died in 1993, lying in his coffin, he was wearing his uniform with orders and decorations. Is it common for a royal not to be buried wearing a uniform and/or orders and decorations?
My friend Cecca send me this photo and it is takend by Queen Alexandra. its from NRK Dagsrevyen 21
I can't find this geneology site anymore. I read it quite a while ago. According to the site, King Olav V had children with another woman named Martha, and their surnames were av norge. Initially, It had dates of their relationship which made it seem like marriage and divorce, but the site interpreted it as King Olav V having had "an affair" before marrying Princess Martha. It looked as if he ended relationship after meeting the princess. Again, I can't find the site anymore.
The fact that they talk about the children's surnames were "av Norge" indicates that this is Märtha and Olav's marriage and their mutual children, Ragnhild, Astrid and Harald. Children born outside a royal marriage would not get their father's last name (av Norge/of Norway), I presume (certainly not children of a marriage nobody's heard of), but their mother's.
Being cousins, Olav and Märtha had known each other all their lives, but were first (secretly) engaged in 1928. Olav mentioned in an interview that it was at their mutual grandmother's 70th birthday celebrations in 1921 (when he was 18) that he first imagined that he could fall in love with his cousin Märtha.
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