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#OnThisDay in 1903 the future King Olav of Norway is born at the Sandringham Estate

On the Sandringham Estate, Prince Alexander Edward Christian Frederik of Denmark was born on the 2nd of July 1903. He would later become The Crown Prince of Norway and the eventual, King Olav V of Norway. He was born to Prince Carl of Denmark and Princess Maud of Wales.

His father was elected as Norway’s monarch in 1905, after the dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden. He then took the name, King Haakon VII. After Haakon VII was inaugurated, he changed Alexander’s name to the Norwegian name, Olav and gave him the title, The Crown Prince of Norway.

Olav took his main military education in the army at the Norwegian Military Academy. By the 1930s, he was a naval cadet serving on the cadet training ship Olav Tryggvason. He held the rank of colonel by 1936. He was also an accomplished athlete and won a gold medal in sailing at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. 

On the 21 of March 1929, Olav married Princess Märtha of Sweden at the Oslo Cathedral, which was the first royal wedding in Norway in 340 years. The couple would have three children: Princess Ragnhild, Princess Astrid, and Prince Harald. His son Harald, has reigned as Harald V of Norway since 17 January 1991.

During World War II, the Norwegian government and the royal family were exiled. Olav was in the United Kingdom with his father, while Crown Princess Märtha and their children were in the United States. Olav was reluctant to leave Norway during the German occupation and offered to stay behind with the Norwegian people. However, this was declined, and therefore, he traveled to the United Kingdom, where he was a key advisor to the Norwegian government and his father during Norway’s occupation. Further, after the war, he led the disarmament of the occupying German forces in Norway. He would be awarded different honours from foreign nations for his contributions to the Allies during the Second World War, including the U.S. Legion of Merit and the French Médaille Militaire.

Tragically, Crown Princess Märtha died in 1954 of cancer and never saw her husband reign as the King of Norway. Olav became king in 1957 after his father’s passing. He was by all accounts a popular monarch, and the Norwegian people called him “folke kong”, which means people’s king. Olav V passed away at the age of 87 on 17 January 1991 in Oslo. He and his wife, Märtha, are interred in the Royal Mausoleum at Akershus Fortress in the Norwegian capital.

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