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Exhibition about King Karl Johan opened at the Royal Palace in Oslo

Those who will visit Oslo this summer and are interested in royal history have a lot to look forward to. Not only is there a new exhibition in Queen Sonja Art Stable, but there is also a new exhibition in the Royal Palace that you can visit. Every summer the Norwegian Royal Family opens the Royal Palace for visitors who can visit the main rooms of the palace.

Every year there is also a new exhibition that characterises the rooms that are open. This year it is an important anniversary both for Norway and Sweden. It has been 200 years since Karl Johan became King of Norway and Sweden. This marked the establishment of the royal dynasty Bernadotte, which still rules in Sweden today.

Nina Høye from the Royal Palace explains the story of the painting showing the coronation of King Karl Johan. This is the original painting and hangs at the royal palace in Oslo. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen.

Karl Johan’s personal bed as he used during his visits to Oslo during his reign. Karl Johan is known for having worked from his bed often. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen.

The new exhibition at Oslo’s Royal Palace is about King Karl Johan and his relationship with the Royal Palace in Oslo. It was Karl Johan who had this palace built. But he never lived long enough to see the finished result. On Monday, Royal Central’s Senior Europe Correspondent, Oskar Aanmoen, was invited to the palace for a pre-viewing.

Aanmoen describes the exhibition as follows: “This is a great exhibition. Here you have the opportunity to see personal items from Karl Johan that are not otherwise exhibited. With the Royal Palace that surrounds the items, is this a great exhibition everyone should see”.

The original uniform Karl Johan wore during the coronation in 1818 is also exhibited. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen.

King Carl Johan (1763-1818-1844), originally Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, was born in the south of France and became a soldier 17-years-old. During the French Revolution, he had a sparkling military career and was appointed in 1804 to Marshal of France in connection with the crowning of Napoleon as Emperor.

In 1810 there was political and constitutional crisis in Sweden. King Gustaf IV Adolf had been detained by a coup in 1809, after the defeat in the war against Russia when Sweden lost Finland. The heir to the throne was his childless old uncle, King Carl XIII. Thus, the Riksdag chose Jean Baptiste Bernadotte to be King Carl XIII’s successor. It happened in Örebro in August 1810. Soon after, he came to Sweden, converted to Protestantism, was hailed by the Riksdag under the name Carl Johan and was formally adopted by King Carl XIII.

Karl Johan’s personal shaving equipment. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen.

Actually, the palace in Oslo should have been much bigger. This is what the original plan looked like. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen.

Karl Johan had to go to war in Norway in 1814 to get Norway to accept the union. After a short military campaign, the convention in Moss was signed, and on 4 November 1814 Carl Johan’s adoptive father, Carl XIII, was elected Norwegian king as King Carl II. Carl II died in 1818, and his adoptive son became King of Norway and Sweden.

So whether you live in the Oslo area or have plans to visit the city during your summer vacation, you should head to the Royal Palace. Here you can see the exhibition in the Royal Palace of Karl Johan. During this exhibition, you will also see a number of the palace’s main rooms. After seeing the display at the palace, visit Queen Sonja’s Art Stable. The summer exhibition shows Norwegian folk art and tradition that the royals have in their collections. Do not forget to go for a walk in the park that surrounds the palace and the stable. Here you can visit Princess Ingrid Alexandra’s sculptures, the fairly new statue of Queen Sonja and a number of other figures.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.