King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway celebrated their Silver Anniversary of their accession to the Norwegian throne earlier this year on 17 January. Since then, they have conducted a jubilee tour on the Royal Yacht Norge and held a garden party in the Palace Park. They have concluded their Silver Jubilee celebrations with a movie, open to the public, in Jubilee Park, which took place on the evening of 21 September.
The Norwegian Royal Court said that Their Majesties wanted to end their jubilee tour as it began, “with an event that is open to all.” They invited the public to watch the premiere of Erik Poppe’s film, The King’s Choice. Between 10,000 and 20,000 people filed into the park on a rainy evening. Luckily, by the time King Harald, Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Princess Märtha Louise, and Princess Astrid arrived, the weather had mostly cleared up. A group of war veterans were invited to the event to preview the movie, and the family stopped to greet them as they arrived.
The film’s director Erik Poppe and actors, Jesper Christensen and Anders Kristiansen Baasmo made an appearance, as well. Christensen played King Haakon and Baasmo portrayed Prince Olav in the World War Two period drama.
The King’s Choice tells the true story about the three days in April 1940 where the German military gives the Norwegian king an ultimatum of surrender or die. Princess Märtha returns to her homeland of Sweden with her children – including a young Prince (now King) Harald. King Haakon and the Norwegian government chose to not surrender to the Germans and resisted the invasion for as long as they could. King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav would eventually be evacuated to the United Kingdom. Haakon is considered one of the greatest Norwegians of the twentieth century.
Crown Prince Haakon spoke to the gathered audience before the film saying, “Many people faced a fateful choice in this time, and was put in terrible, difficult situations. Many sacrificed much. But it rested a particular responsibility on the top managers. For their choices and attitudes in this time got enormous consequences for the country and people.”
He continued, “There are times in life when you know yourself that you are right – and that you have to act on this knowledge – without taking too many of the consequences.”
The Crown Prince mentioned that the film was not just a dramatic part of Norway’s history, but also, “about loneliness and the seriousness of it to confront difficult choices.” His father was just three-years-old when he had to flee with his mother and sisters to Sweden before finally settling in the United States until the end of the Second World War.
At the conclusion of The King’s Choice, the audience gave a standing ovation for the film, the veterans assembled, and their king.