The Royal Palace, Oslo is the official residence of Norway’s monarch.
The idea for a Royal Palace was conceived by King Carl Johan, but he died before he could take possession of it. Prior to this, Norwegian monarchs resided at Paleet, a magnificent townhouse in Christiana, which had been bequeathed to the State in 1805 by Bernt Anker as a royal residence.
The idea of a new royal residence was first raised at the Storting (Norwegian national assembly) in 1821, but nothing came of the discussion. The next year, King Carl Johan raised the idea again at the Storting. A commission was formed to finance the construction of the Palace in 1823.
The Royal Palace, Oslo is located at Bellevue, a rise at the end of one of Oslo’s main thoroughfares. Construction began in 1824, and King Carl Johan laid the foundation stone on 1 October 1825. The cost of building the Royal Palace ballooned, and the project was stopped and started several times throughout the ensuing decades. On 15 March 1849, the Lord Chamberlain took possession of the Royal Palace, and on 26 July of that year, the Royal Family, led by King Oscar I, inaugurated it and moved in. It has been the official residence of the Norwegian monarch ever since.
The Royal Palace was designed in the Neo-Classical style, and its façade features stucco bricks. It is designed in an H-shape and is three stories high with 173 rooms.
Before King Haakon VII’s installation as king in 1905, the Royal Palace, Oslo was only used as a short-term residence, as the kingdoms of Sweden and Norway were combined prior to his reign. When the kingdom split and the Norwegian king was installed, the Royal Palace had to be upgraded – Royal Apartments, bathrooms and lavatories were installed.
The upgrades suited King Haakon and his successor, King Olav, who only undertook minor renovations to the Palace, but when King Harald ascended to the throne in 1991, he commissioned a series of renovations that began in 1993.
“The state of the electrical system aroused concern, the kitchens and sanitation had seen very little improvement since 1906, and the working conditions for the staff did not comply with the national working environment regulations,” reads the Royal Palace’s official website.
“The façade had not been properly maintained, and there was discovered rot in the floor beams. The layout of the rooms was functionally impractical.”
The renovations were complete on 15 March 1999 – 150 years to the day that the Lord Chamberlain took possession of the building.
The Royal Apartments were renovated and decorated in a separate project after major renovations were completed, reopening in 2001. From 2011-2012, the roof of the Royal Palace was renovated.
The Royal Palace of Oslo was opened to guided public tours beginning in 2002, showcasing the following rooms:
- Cabinet Cloakroom
- Cabinet Parlour
- Council Chamber
- White Parlour
- King Haakon VII Suite
- Upper Vestibule
- Bird Room, where the Royal Family poses for photos and where those waiting for an audience with the King wait
- Mirror Hall
- Family Dining Room
- Great Hall, where luncheons and after banquets are held, including the wedding balls for King Harald and Queen Sonya’s Silver Wedding Anniversary and for Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit
- Banqueting Hall, used for State Visits, Stortings and other national events
Other royal residences in Norway include Stiftsgården, Gamlehaugen, Leedal, and Bygdø Royal Farm, all of which are owned by the public and open for tours.
The Norwegian Royal Family owns four private residences, including the Skaugum Estate in Asker where Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit and family live, the Royal Mountain Chalet in Sikkilsdalen, the Royal Lodge at Voksenkollen, and a summer retreat named Mågerø in Tjøme.