Her Highness Princess Astrid of Norway, Mrs Ferner, unveiled Sunday morning a bust of King Haakon VII outside the Norwegian Seaman’s Church in London. The ceremony marked the official opening of New St Olavs Square in London. Princess Astrid is the granddaughter of King Haakon VII, daughter of King Olav V and sister of Norway’s current King, His Majesty King Harald V.
“The idea of a bust of King Haakon here in London is to emphasise King Haakon’s role in London during the war, and the close relationship of the Norwegian Royal Family with England,” said Priest Torbjørn Holt during the opening.
Before the ceremony, the Princess was present at the service where the Norwegian seaman’s Priest Torbjørn Holt was the host. After the service, Priest Holt invited the Princess for lunch, and the event concluded with author and royal-historian Tor Bomann Larsen speaking about King Haakon and the time he lived in London.
The bust of King Haakon VII is a variant of the great statue of the King which stands outside the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Oslo. It was made by the artist Nils Aas, and the bust which now stands in London is made in close cooperation with Aas’s son, architect Atle Aas.
The Seamen’s Church in London was officially opened by Crown Prince Olav in 1927, father of Princess Astrid. The Norwegian Seaman’s Church was the church of the entire Norwegian Royal Family, and the Norwegian government used it during the occupation of Norway in the period from 1940-45. During this time, King Haakon and then Crown Prince Olav lived permanently in London in exile and managed the Norwegian resistance struggle from there.
St Olav Square was rebuilt during the winter and spring of this year and has become a vast and open park in front of the Norwegian Seaman’s Church in London. The park and the square are open to all London residents and tourists.