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Who is King Harald of Norway?

King Harald is the first King of Norway born on Norwegian soil in 567 years. He was born at Skaugum estate 21. February 1937 and is the son of King Olav of Norway and his wife Martha, who was Crown Princess of Norway and Princess of Sweden.

Prince Harald and his two sisters. The picture is from the estate Skaugum in October 1939. Photo: Anders Beer Wilse via Wikimedia Commons.

Prince Harald and his two sisters. The picture is from the estate Skaugum in October 1939. Photo: Anders Beer Wilse via Wikimedia Commons.

King Harald grew up at the Skaugum estate just outside the capital Oslo with his two older sisters, Princess Astrid and Princess Ragnhild. When King Harald was three years old the Germans invaded Norway during the Second World War. This forced the royal family to flee the country. King Harald and his two sisters were taken to Sweden where King Harald’s grand-uncle reigned as King. After a few weeks in Sweden, the Norwegian royal family was given political asylum in the United States and throughout the war King Harald lived just outside Washington D. C. along with his mother and two sisters.

From the left: King Olav, Princess Astrid, King Haakon, Crown Princess Martha, King Harald and Princess Ragnhild. From the balcony of the castle in Oslo the day the Norwegian royal family returned home after five years in exile.

From the left: King Olav, Princess Astrid, King Haakon, Crown Princess Martha, King Harald and Princess Ragnhild. From the balcony of the castle in Oslo the day the Norwegian royal family returned home after five years in exile. Photo: Oslo Museum via Wikimedia Commons.

From the King's final year at the military academy in 1957. Photo: National Library of Norway via Wikimedia Commons.

From the King’s final year at the military academy in 1957. Photo: National Library of Norway via Wikimedia Commons.

When the war was over, King Harald returned to Norway. He was eight years old and he was enrolled at the Norwegian school to continue his education. Having completed compulsory schooling the King entered the army and performed his military service before joining the Norwegian Military Academy. After four years of education in the army King Harald moved to London where he studied political science, history and economics at Oxford University for two years.

King Harald’s grandfather, King Haakon VII, died in 1957. After that, he became Crown Prince and received a number of official and ceremonial duties. After King Harald returned from his education in London, he showed great interest in international diplomacy and the Norwegian business community. He was also for many years a representative for the World Wide Fund (WWF). King Harald is an skilled athlete. From his early youth he has been interested in both skiing and sailing. King Harald participated in the Olympic Games in sailing several times and won numerous international sailing regattas, including the World Championships in sailing in 1987. The King is also an skilled hunter and fisherman. Several times the King’s guests have been served food that the King has shot.

The King married Sonja Haraldsen in 1968 and together they have two children, Crown Prince Haakon and Princess Martha Louise. When King Olav died in 1991, King Harald was enthroned as King of Norway. In Norway, the tradition is that kings are not crowned, but blessed (Norwegian: signet) in a large-scale worship.

The wedding of King Harald and Queen Sonja in 1968. Photo: Bjørn Glorvigen via Wikimedia Commons.

The wedding of King Harald and Queen Sonja in 1968. Photo: Bjørn Glorvigen via Wikimedia Commons.

King Harald love nature experiences, which he combines with hunting and fishing. He is concerned about environmental issues and he was president of the World Wildlife Fund for 20 years. During the ski world cup in 1982, His Majesty was the chairman of the main committee. In January 2011, he was awarded the Honorary Award of sport during the Norwegian Sports Gala. The King remains an active competitive sailor and participate each year in national and international regattas.

In the summer of 2016 the King held a speech who gained international attention.  You can see the speech in the bottom of this article with English subtitles.

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