King Harald V of Norway Marks Milestone 80th Birthday
The King of Norway today celebrates another milestone birthday: he turns eighty years old.
Born in 1937 on the Skaugum Estate, Harald was the third child of the-then Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha, and as the couple’s only son, was the heir to the throne after his father (his sisters, Princesses Ragnhild and Astrid, did not have succession rights).
Harald spent five years of his childhood living in the United States with his mother and sister, after the Royal Family was forced into exile to avoid arrest by Nazi German troops who had invaded Norway. They lived in Washington, D.C. upon the invitation of the President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, until June 1945, when they returned to Norway alongside King Haakon VII and Crown Prince Olav, who had spent the exile years in London.
The future King was the first member of the Norwegian Royal Family to attend a public school, being enrolled in the Smestad School following the liberation, before high school at the Oslo Cathedral School (a year before Harald graduated, his mother died of cancer in 1954). It was then on to compulsory military training before university at Balliol College, Oxford, where Prince Harald studied social science, history and economics.
Along with his studies and official duties (he became Crown Prince of Norway in September 1957), Harald spent his twenties and early thirties indulging in his passion for sailing. He represented his country at three Olympic Games (1964 – where he carried the Norwegian flag at the Opening Ceremony, 1968 and 1972) in yachting, and medalled at World Championships during the 1980s with his crew.
Standing by King Harald’s side for over fifty years has been his wife, Queen Sonja, a commoner whom he wed in August 1968 after a nine-year courtship. King Olav finally gave consent to the marriage in early 1968, his son and heir having informed him that if he could not marry Sonja, he would not marry at all. Their first child, Princess Märtha Louise, was born in September 1971, while Crown Prince Haakon followed in July 1973 (Sonja suffered a miscarriage in July 1970). Through their two children, Harald and Sonja have five grandchildren – Maud Angelica, Leah Isadora and Emma Tallulah Behn, Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Prince Sverre Magnus – and one ‘bonus’ grandson, Marius Borg Høiby.
Harald became King of Norway in January 1991 upon the death of his father, Olav V. He swore to uphold the Norwegian Constitution four days later, and took as his motto ‘We give our all for Norway’. The new King was consecrated that June at Trondheim’s Nidaros Cathedral, the traditional location for consecrations going back centuries.
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Since then, King Harald has served the Norwegian people faithfully (despite serious health issues in 2003-2004 and 2005), and like his cousin in Denmark, has said that he has no intentions to ever abdicate, saying that the oath he took in 1991 was “for life”. In a recent interview given for this milestone birthday, the King spoke of his fear upon taking the throne: “I was terrified. To be quite honest, I was pretty sure I was not going to be able to do it. My father was incredibly popular.” Many agree though that Harald has surpassed his father in both popularity and success as monarch.
We wish a very happy birthday to the beloved King of Norway!
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