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Harald V of Norway

King of Norway
The basics
AKA Harald V
Date of birth Asker
Mother: Princess Märtha of Sweden
Sister(s): Princess Ragnhild Mrs. Lorentzen Princess Astrid of Norway
Father: Olav V of Norway
Spouse: Queen Sonja of Norway
Children: Princess Märtha Louise of Norway Haakon Crown Prince of Norway
Education University of Oslo, Balliol College
Authority NNDB id IMDB id VIAF id BIBSYS id Library of congress id ISNI id
The details

Harald V (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈhɑrːɑɫ]; born 21 February 1937) is the King of Norway, having ascended the throne following the death of his father on 17 January 1991.
Harald was the third child (and only son) born to Olav V and Princess Märtha of Sweden. He was second in the line of succession at the time of his birth, behind his father but ahead of his two older sisters, Ragnhild and Astrid. In 1940, as a result of the German occupation during World War II, the royal family went into exile. Harald spent part of his childhood in Sweden and the United States. He returned to Norway in 1945, and subsequently studied for periods at the University of Oslo, the Norwegian Military Academy, and Balliol College, Oxford.
In 1957, following the death of his grandfather, Haakon VII, Harald became crown prince. A keen sportsman, he represented Norway in sailing at the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympic Games, and later became patron of World Sailing. Harald married Sonja Haraldsen in 1968, with their relationship initially being controversial due to her status as a commoner. The couple had two children, Märtha and Haakon. Harald succeeded his father as king in 1991, with Haakon becoming his heir apparent.

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 as a child

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. 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.

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. 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.

Harald and his mother and sisters lived in Washington, D.C., during the war, 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. 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. 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, Harald represented Norway in the yachting events of Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964 and in Mexico City in 1968 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.

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.

Titles, styles, arms


  • 21 February 1937 – 21 September 1957: His Royal Highness Prince Harald of Norway
  • 21 September 1957 – 17 January 1991: His Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Norway
  • 17 January 1991 – present: His Majesty The King of Norway


Honours and medals

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.

  •  Norway – Grand Master of the Royal Norwegian Order of St Olav – Grand Cross with collar of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav°
  •  Norway – Grand Master of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit – Grand Cross°
  •  Norway – St Olav's medal°
  •  Norway – Defence Service Medal with Laurel Branch°
  •  Norway – Royal House Centennial Medal°
  •  Norway – King Haakon VII Commemorative Medal 1. October 1957°
  •  Norway – King Haakon VII 1905–1955 Jubilee Medal°
  •  Norway – Haakon VIIs Centenary Medal°
  •  Norway – Olav Vs Commemorative Medal of 30. January 1991°
  •  Norway – Olav Vs Jubilee Medal°
  •  Norway – Olav Vs Centenary Medal°
  •  Norway – Defence Service Medal with three stars°
  •  Norway – Army National Service Medal with three stars°
  •  Norway – Krigsdeltakerforbundet Badge of Honour°
  •  Norway – Norwegian Red Cross Badge of Honour°
  •  Norway – Norwegian Reserve Officers Federal Badge of Honour°
  •  Norway – The Naval Society Medal of Merit in gold°
  •  Norway – Norwegian Shooting Society Badge of Honour°
  •  Norway – The Norwegian Confederation of Sports Centenary Medal°
  •  Norway – Norwegian Shooting Society Commemorative Medal in gold°
  •  Norway – Oslo Military Society Badge of Honour in Gold°

Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav Royal Norwegian Order of Merit St Olav's medal

Defence Service Medal with Laurel Branch The Royal House Centenary Medal Haakon VIIs Commemorative Medal 1. October 1957 Haakon VIIs Jubilee Medal 1905–1955

Haakon VIIs Centenary Medal Olav Vs Commemorative Medal of 30. January 1991 Olav Vs Jubilee Medal Olav Vs Centenary Medal

Defence Service Medal National Service Medal Krigsdeltakerforbundet Badge of Honour Norwegian Red Cross Badge of Honour

Norwegian Reserve Officers Federal Badge of Honour The Naval Society Medal of Merit in gold Norwegian Shooting Society Badge of Honour Oslo Military Society Badge of Honour in Gold

Foreign honours

In the British Army, Harald V was the final Colonel-in-Chief of the Green Howards. He is also an honorary Colonel in the British Royal Marines. 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. 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

  •  Iceland – Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the Falcon °
  •  Sweden – Knight with Collar of the Order of the Seraphim °
  •  Sweden – Gustaf Vs 90th Anniversary Medal °
  •  Sweden – HM King Carl XVI Gustaf 50th Anniversary Medal
  •  Denmark – Knight with Collar of the Order of the Elephant °
  •  Denmark – Grand Commander of the Order of the Dannebrog °
  •  Finland – Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose of Finland °
  •  Estonia – Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana °
  •  Latvia – Commander Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of the Three Stars °
  •  Lithuania – Grand Cross (1998) with Golden Chain (2011) of the Order of Vytautas the Great °
  •  United Kingdom – Recipient of the Royal Victorian Chain (1994) °
  •  United Kingdom – Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (1955) °
  •  United Kingdom – Stranger Knight of the Order of the Garter (990th member; 2001) °
  •  United Kingdom – Honorary Freedom of Newcastle upon Tyne

Other countries

  •  Austria – Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria (1964) °
  •  Belgium – Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold °
  •  Brazil – Grand Collar of the Order of the Southern Cross °
  •  Bulgaria – Cordon of the Order of Stara Planina °
  •  Croatia – Grand Order of King Tomislav°
  •  France – Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur °
  •  Germany – Grand Cross 1st class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany °
  •  Greece – Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer °
  •  Greece – The Royal House of Greece Centenary Medal °
  •  Hungary – Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary °
  • Olympic flag.svg IOC – The Golden Olympic order °
  •  Italy – Knight Grand Cross (06/1965) with Collar (10/2001) of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic °
  •  Japan – Grand Cordon with Collar of the Order of the Chrysanthemum °
  •  Jordan – Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of al-Hussein bin Ali °
  •  Yugoslavia – Order of the Yugoslav Great Star °
  •  Luxembourg – Grand Cross of the Order of Adolph of Nassau °
  •  Luxembourg – Knight of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau°
  •  Luxembourg – Medal to commemorate the wedding of Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte °
  •  Netherlands – Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion °
  •  Netherlands – Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown °
  •  Netherlands – Commander of the Order of the Golden Ark °
  •  Netherlands – Medal to commemorate the enthronement of Queen Beatrix °
  •  Poland – Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the White Eagle °
  •  Portugal – Grand Cross of the Military Order of Aviz (05/11/1980) °
  •  Portugal – Grand Collar of the Order of Infante Dom Henrique (13 February 2004) °
  •  Portugal – Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of St. James of the Sword (26 May 2008) °
  •  Romania – Sash Rank of the Order of the Star of Romania °
  •  Slovakia : Grand Cross (or 1st Class) of the Order of the White Double Cross (2010) °
  •  Spain – 1,192nd Knight and Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece (21 April 1995) °
  •  Spain – Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III (12/04/1982) °
  •  Spain – Collar of the Order of Charles III (30 June 2006) °
  •  South Africa – Grand Cross of the Order of Good Hope °
  •  Thailand – Knight Grand Cordon (First Class) of the Order of Chula Chom Klao °
  •  Turkey – First Class of the Order of the State of Republic of Turkey °

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). The King also received honorary doctorates from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland in 1994, 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.

  •  Ireland – Freedom of the City of Cork.
  • Spirit of Luther Award, awarded by Luther College of Decorah, IA
  • A 230,000 km² area in Antarctica is named Prince Harald Coast in his honour.
  • In 2007 King Harald was awarded the Holmenkollen medal with Simon Ammann, Frode Estil, Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset, and his wife Queen Sonja.
  •  Portugal – Key of Honor to the City of Lisbon, on 28 May 2008
  • In 2013, a 6,500 km² area in Svalbard was named Harald V Land.


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
    • Princess Ingrid Alexandra, born 21 January 2004
    • Prince Sverre Magnus, born 3 December 2005
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