Monday afternoon, His Majesty King Harald and Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway announced the season opening for the Norwegian Royal Yacht “DS Norge”. The unique thing was the Queen also participating this year. This is not common and has not happened for many years. The Royal Court’s official calendar had also not confirmed that the Queen was to participate.
During the summer season, the crew consists of 53 people, 17 officers and 36 other crew members. During winter time, the crew is reduced to a minimum of approximately 25 people. The duties are mainly guarding the ship and maintenance during the winter. In February, the vessel receives new officers and military crew who undergo theoretical and practical training for the upcoming season.
During such a ceremony, which was conducted this monday, the King inspected this year’s crew. He also examined the ship and made sure of everything is as it should before they had a little chat with the captain and another military commander on board the boat. The King then comes with his official approval that everything is as it should be and the royal ship is officially ready to perform its duties for the Norwegian Royal Family throughout the season. It is common for the season to end in mid-September.
The Royal Yacht has been used for many big celebrations before. When the royal couple celebrated its 60th anniversary in summer 1997, royals from all over Europe participated in the celebration. The guests were invited on a trip from Trondheim to Lofoten and were accommodated aboard the Royal Yacht.
The Norwegian Royal Yacht is one of the world’s two remaining royal yachts. The other is the Danish Royal Yacht Dannebrog since the British Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned in 1997. The Royal Yacht was a gift from the people of Norway to King Haakon VII in 1947, purchased in the wake of a nationwide collection effort. The ship is owned by His Majesty The King but is manned and maintained by the Royal Norwegian Navy.
In July 1947, the British ship “Philante” was bought for 1.5 million Norwegian crowns, which would be the Norwegian Royal Yacht. Before the King could use the boat, the ship had to be rebuilt. In the years that followed, King Haakon used the vessel on his journeys along the long Norwegian coast and travelled to foreign countries. In June 1955, King Haakon used to ship on a visit to Molde. This was King Haakon’s last trip with the ship; he died in 1957.
King Olav took over the ship after his father’s death in 1957. King Olav followed his father’s traditions and used the royal ship both privately and officially. In the winter of 1985, the ship was to be repaired and upgraded at Horten Naval Base. During welding wor,k there was a fire that spread rapidly to the entire ship. When the fire was put out, the ship was completely burned out. The King decided that the ship should be rebuilt.
One year after the fire, King Olav again took over the ship. It then had a far better safety and technical condition than it had been before the inferno. King Harald took over the yacht upon King Olav’s death in 1991. King Harald actively uses the ship both in official journeys at home and abroad and as a private home when the King participates in international regattas.