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Norway

A look back at the Norwegian royal year

King Harald and Queen Sonja
Photo by Jørgen Gomnæs, Det kongelige hoff

January

King Harald set the tone for the year with his New Year’s Eve speech, noting: “The hope will carry us all into 2021.”

Sadly, 2021 began on a sad note for the Norwegian Royal Family. They paid a visit to Gjerdrum, the site of a devastating landslide shortly before the New Year. But history was also made in January 2021: King Harald marked 30 years on the Norwegian throne

We featured several special articles to mark this event, including: ‘Alt for Norge’, a look at the motto that unites the modern Norwegian kings; a photo gallery of King Harald and Queen Sonja’s Silver Jubilee in 2016; and history of Skaugum Estate, where King Harald was born. 

An ‘On This Day’ post marked the day, 17 January 1991, when King Harald ascended to the Norwegian throne, and we explored what the death of King Olav meant for the country. We looked back at King Harald’s accession in 1991 and the modern monarchs of Norway

We looked at how King Harald can be viewed as a reformer king and focused on Crown Prince Haakon’s 30 years as heir apparent. On 21 January, we marked the 30th anniversary of King Harald’s oath to the Norwegian Constitution, and on 30 January, we marked the 30th anniversary of King Olav’s funeral. 

As they marked their 30th anniversary on the throne, King Harald and Queen Sonja sent a message of thanks to the Norwegian people

King Harald and Queen Sonja
Photo by Jørgen Gomnæs, Det kongelige hoff

Elsewhere, we reported on Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s skiing accident (she broke her coccyx); and Crown Prince Haakon celebrating that Norway had been admitted to the UN Security Council. King Harald presented the Norwegian Sport Award; Crown Prince Haakon became patron of the Norwegian Year of Volunteering and surprised fishermen

Crown Prince Haakon also gave a poignant speech in memory of Benjamin Hermansen, whose tragic murder exposed racism in the country. 

King Harald and Queen Sonja received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine on 13 January, but sadly, toward the end of the month, King Harald had to take time off for sick leave, making Crown Prince Haakon regent. It was later reported that King Harald would undergo surgery to repair the tendon in his right knee, and in a health update, it was reported that the surgery went well. 

We also looked back on Princess Astrid’s wedding day in 1961; Norway’s most glittering tiaras; and the modern consorts of Norway. When Princess Ingrid Alexandra celebrated her 17th birthday on 21 January, we shared 17 facts about the future queen. 

February 

Crown Prince Haakon met with Norwegian sailors who were helping to keep the supply chain moving; King Harald and Queen Sonja received their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; and Crown Prince Haakon celebrated the 125th anniversary of the Norwegian Farmers’ Association. 

Crown Prince Haakon marked Sámi People’s Day; Princess Märtha Louise announced that she may move to the United States to be closer to her boyfriend, Durek Verrett (no such move has yet occurred), and revealed that King Harald was the one to tell her about her late husband’s death. 

Crown Princess Mette-Marit carried out her first solo engagement in over a year, with an appearance on a Norwegian podcast. The Crown Princess’s health has been her chief priority since her diagnosis with pulmonary fibrosis in 2018. 

Sadly, King Harald’s sick leave was extended into March, while Crown Prince Haakon met with young people living with dyslexia and dyscalculia. King Harald celebrated his 84th birthday on 21 February, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit called her fractured tailbone the “worst thing I have experienced.”

March

In a separate interview, Crown Princess Mette-Marit opened up about not feeling good enough; former US President Bill Clinton sent his well-wishes to King Harald and Queen Sonja; as did Queen Margrethe

Crown Princess Mette-Marit launched a digital literature train in lieu of her traditional train tour; Crown Prince Haakon gave a speech to the younger generation at an event by the Central Association of Local Authorities of Norway. 

In a touch of historical news, Second World War-era letters from King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav were published; and we looked to the future and the teenage heirs of Europe who will someday take their respective thrones (including Princess Ingrid Alexandra, who will be Norway’s first modern queen). 

On International Women’s Day, Crown Prince Haakon paid tribute to his mother, Queen Sonja. Princess Märtha Louise shared a touching post on social media. Speaking of Queen Sonja, a group of men figured the best way to get her attention and secure a visit to western Norway was to ski across the country and flag her down. Spoiler alert: it worked! 

Sadly, Erling Lorentzen, the widower of Princess Ragnhild, late sister of King Harald, passed away on 9 March at age 98. His funeral was announced as taking place on 22 March, and King Harald was one of the chief mourners

King Harald’s sick leave was once again extended, this time into April, leaving Crown Prince Haakon regent for nearly three months. Queen Sonja opened a new exhibition at the Lillehammer Art Museum; Princess Märtha Louise marked World Down Syndrome Day; and the Crown Prince Couple launched the Norwegian Red Cross’s Easter preparedness campaign

We looked back on the wedding of King Olav and Martha of Sweden (who sadly passed away before her husband took the throne); reported what the Norwegian royals had planned for Easter; and shared King Harald’s Easter message

April

April started, rightly, with a look at Norway’s best diamond tiaras. Princess Märtha Louise continued to talk about permanently moving to the United States but was adamant that wedding bells weren’t ringing for the couple just yet. 

When the Duke of Edinburgh passed away on 9 April, King Harald sent his condolences to Queen Elizabeth II. We also looked at Prince Philip’s last visit to Norway in 2001.

King Harald returned to royal duties officially on 11 April but only carried out his first major public engagement on 23 April; Crown Prince Haakon planned a digital visit to San Francisco, and the Crown Prince Couple made a surprise appearance at a televised awards ceremony. 

Elsewhere, we profiled the grandchildren of King Harald in an ongoing series; Crown Prince Haakon began his digital American visit and met with US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

May

Norway’s Prime Minister was quick to shoot down discussions of republicanism in the country; Queen Sonja announced a new exhibition in her eponymous art stable. Crown Princess Mette-Marit visited an artists’ workshop. 

Crown Princess Mette-Marit also thanked Norwegian midwives for their vital work. 

The Norwegian Royal Family was given a The Crown-style treatment with the new series Atlantic Crossing, which detailed Crown Princess Martha’s escape from Norway during the Second World War. Our Senior Europe Correspondent, who is based in Oslo, was not a fan.

King Harald and Crown Prince Haakon inspected the royal yacht ahead of the summer sailing season; later, Crown Prince Haakon commemorated the Liberation of Norway. He later announced his intention to continue as an ambassador of the UN’s Development Programme; and we explored how all the Scandinavian royal families are related. 

King Harald and Queen Sonja look at drawings sent to them by children to mark National Day 2021
Det Norske Konogehuset Instagram still/ fair use

With National Day on the horizon, the Norwegian Royal Family announced their plans for the day. We covered National Day here. King Harald and Queen Sonja released pictures drawn by children to mark the holiday.

The Norwegian government changed the way it prioritised who would receive the COVID-19 vaccine in which order, meaning Crown Prince Haakon, as a key government/royal figure, was moved to the head of the line.

The Norwegian Royal Family announced plans to mark the 10th anniversary of the devastating terrorist attack on the island of Utøya that killed 77 people (including Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s stepbrother); Queen Sonja gave an interview to discuss her own art career; and the month ended with a public debate on the use of the Royal Train.

June

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit opened a centre dedicated to Hans Nielsen Hauge; Princess Astrid highlighted the vital work of the Norwegian Handicap Association; and King Harald was in a position that he may have lost mooring for his boats.

Crown Prince Haakon and his Swedish counterpart, Crown Princess Victoria, teamed up at a UN conference to discuss the sea and ways to support the marine world. The Norwegian royals also met with survivors of the 2011 terrorist attack; Queen Sonja announced that she would open a commercial art gallery in Oslo. King Harald and Queen Sonja began a royal visit of Western Norway (we covered their visit here and here, too). 

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit supported the Norwegian Rescue Society and highlighted the importance of safety at sea. King Harald attended an award ceremony for Norway’s Royal Guard. Crown Prince Haakon attended a digital Veteran Conference

To close out the month, we looked back at King Harald and Queen Sonja’s coronation blessing 30 years later, the event having occurred on 23 June 1991. 

July

With the summer holidays having begun, we looked at the Norwegian Royal Family’s summer home, Mågerø. Prince Sverre Magnus’s school plans were revealed: he began attending Elvebakken High School in September. 

We reported that the Norwegian Royal Family was on vacation in Northern Norway; Crown Prince Haakon celebrated his 48th birthday on that vacation; and sadly, Queen Sonja’s sister-in-law, Lis Haraldsen passed away at the age of 87

Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, The Royal Court

The Norwegian Royal Family marked the official anniversary of the 2011 terrorist attack; Princess Astrid visited the Norwegian Rescue Company; and the Crown Prince Family mourned the loss of their Labradoodle, Muffins

August

As the Tokyo Olympics began, we looked at the Scandinavian royals who competed in past Olympic Games (which also included King Olav, who was so decorated, he merited his own post); and King Harald congratulated a Norwegian track star on his new Olympic and World records. 

The Crown Prince Couple appeared on the radio to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary; and the wider family returned to work after their summer holiday. Emma Behn, King Harald’s granddaughter, won a prize in horse jumping; Queen Sonja opened a new school building; and we revealed Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s plans to privately mark her 48th birthday.

Crown Prince Haakon continued to praise young people; Princess Märtha Louise was reunited with Durek in Los Angeles; and King Harald, Crown Prince Haakon and Princess Astrid honoured Second World War veterans

Sad news as Princess Ingrid Alexandra tested positive for coronavirus (she later made a full recovery, and King Harald commented on her diagnosis); Queen Sonja enjoyed a night at the opera; and later, she marked the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian Fund of Information. Crown Prince Haakon, meanwhile, called for an end to child marriage.

The Norwegian Royal Family on holiday
Emma Behn (centre) with her family (photo Det kongelige hoff)

On 25 August, the Crown Prince Couple celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. We looked back on the past 20 years; explored in-depth the first royal wedding of the 21st century in this rewind; looked back on Mette-Marit’s stunning wedding dress and jewels and bouquet; and looked at the guest list for Norway’s first royal wedding in decades

King Harald and Queen Sonja celebrated their wedding anniversary at the end of August, too. We looked back at Sonja’s High Street wedding dress; and explored the relationship between King Olav and Sonja, as he gave her away at her wedding

King Harald and Queen Sonja marked the end of the summer sailing season; and King Harald unveiled a new National Veterans Monument

September

Princess Ingrid Alexandra returned to school after recovering from COVID-19; Crown Prince Haakon visited the Norwegian National Archives; and Queen Sonja opened a new university building before honouring the first Queen Sonja Print Award honorary member

King Harald visited the Vålerenga football club, which kicked off a period of high activity for the King, who’d marked a period of ill health. Crown Prince Haakon, meanwhile, explained why the Norwegian Royal Family does not vote and visited Bergen

The Crown Prince Family headed to Sweden for a weekend away with their Swedish counterparts, and shared snaps on their social media. Back in Norway, King Harald and Crown Prince Haakon attended an Extraordinary Council of State. Crown Prince Haakon also celebrated the Norwegian Rescue Society’s 50th anniversary

Princess Märtha Louise celebrated her 50th birthday and announced that she would no longer be moving to the United States. 

State Visits returned this fall, with a Dutch State Visit to Norway announced in mid-September. We looked at what this visit would entail; Crown Prince Haakon celebrated entrepreneurship; and the Crown Prince Couple planned a county visit to Østfold that continued into October

October

King Harald celebrated local history; the family attended the State Opening of Parliament; the country changed political leadership; and King Harald approved the new government.

King Harald also commented on the devastating attack which saw five dead while the Crown Prince Couple attended a memorial service for those who died in the Kongsberg attack.

King Harald presented the King Olav V Cancer Research Award; attend a ceremony recognising the handover of an important document to the Sami people; and opened the Sami Parliament. He also commented on a letter from the Sami people to Queen Margrethe.

Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, the Royal Court

King Harald and Queen Sonja opened an art museum dedicated to Edvard Munch, the iconic artist best known for ‘The Scream.’ The King also celebrated the 75th anniversary of Bergen University; and Crown Prince Haakon held his annual youth conference, SIKT.

With State Visits slated to return throughout Europe in November, we covered what to expect; and shared all the details about the Dutch State Visit to Norway.

We also shared that Oscarhall’s Palace Park would be restored; we revealed that King Harald bought his first mobile phone at age 83, and we covered the traditional Parliament dinner the royals host and Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s opening speech for a food and health conference.

And finally, in one of the more bizarre stories we’ve ever run, we covered a since-deleted Instagram post that Durek shared in which he called himself a hybrid of a space lizard

November

King Harald presented the trophies at the women’s football final and also attended celebrations commemorating the 50th anniversary of immigration from Pakistan to Norway.

The Royal Court announced that King Harald and Queen Sonja received their third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine; the monarch then hosted Norway’s Olympians and Paralympians at a palace reception.

Crown Prince Haakon paid a visit to western Norway; the Royal Family welcomed Germany’s President for a visit; Princess Märtha Louise revealed on a podcast that a Nazi once killed himself in what is now her bedroom; and on Armed Forces Day, Crown Prince Haakon led the tributes.

With the Dutch State Visit to Norway happening, we looked back on the history of state visits between the countries. We covered King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima’s arrival (and how Crown Prince Haakon would miss the arrival); and looked at the stunning jewels on display by Queen Máxima and Queen Sonja.

Photo by Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, Det kongelige hoff

Further coverage of the Dutch State Visit touched on their second day; an emphasis on cyberbullying; a toast from the Dutch royals to their hosts; and the final day’s events in Trondheim.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Oslo School of Architecture and Design; we revealed how the Crown Princess and Princess Märtha Louise once took out a loan to acquire artwork for Queen Sonja; and Crown Prince Haakon celebrated Norwegian architecture.

Princess Ingrid Alexandra carried out a solo military engagement, visiting the Hunter Troop. Queen Sonja opened a cultural centre in Trondheim; and Crown Prince Haakon celebrated the Norwegian Trade Fair Foundation.

Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen / The Royal Court

Princess Märtha Louise and Durek appeared on an American talk show, Tamron Hall, to discuss their relationship while a drama program about the Norwegian Royal Family in the Second World War won an Emmy.

Crown Prince Haakon attended an Olympic Summit Performance Conference and a climate conference. Later, he and King Harald marked the 100th anniversary of the Synagogue in Oslo.  

The Crown Prince Couple shared a message of hope for the 10th anniversary of the 2011 terrorist attack; Queen Sonja attended a lecture on Norway’s national sport: cross-country skiing; King Harald and Crown Prince Haakon visited a military museum and plans for Crown Prince Haakon’s visit to the United States were announced.

December

Reports of a shooting at the Royal Family’s summer estate kicked off December. One person was later charged for the crime.

The Crown Prince Couple announced their first major visit for 2022—an official visit to Sweden in January, where they’ll be hosted by Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel. Unfortunately, it was later postponed.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit attended a choir rehearsal and Queen Sonja presented a school award in her own name. Crown Prince Haakon marked the Norwegian Year of Volunteering and commented on the death of a former Prime Minister (which King Harald later led tributes to). The Crown Prince also visited the United States, an event we covered here, here, here, and here.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit was forced to cancel her attendance at Nobel Peace Prize events due to a coronavirus exposure (she later tested negative), and Princess Ingrid Alexandra conducted another military engagement. It was also revealed that her 18th birthday celebrations, scheduled for January, would be delayed due to the ongoing pandemic.

Det Norske Kongehuset Instagram

On 23 December, King Harald made a rare public address to the Norwegian people encouraging them to stay safe during the newest coronavirus outbreak; on Christmas Day the Crown Prince Family welcomed a new dog, Molly Fiskebolle. The Norwegian Royal Family also paid tribute to the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who died on 26 December.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.