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Happy Birthday King Harald – The Norwegian monarch turns 84-years-old

Photo: Oskar Aanmoen

His Majesty King Harald of Norway celebrates his 84th birthday on Sunday. To mark the occasion, a 21-gun-salute will be fired at noon from the cannons at Akershus Fortress in Oslo. It is tradition in Norway to have a gun salute from 11 fortresses in Norway for the birthdays of King Harald, Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit.

The Norwegian King’s birthday is only marked in public when it is a special anniversary, otherwise it is only a private celebration. As the king’s sick leave has been extended to March and due to the pandemic, there will be no big celebration. As the rules are now in Norway, you can have a party for a maximum of 10 people, including your own household. The royals have also said they will follow all the rules. The Royal Court states that the King will stay at his Oslo cabin, Kongssæteren, until March. We can assume that the family will have a small private celebration today.

The king has been ill lately, but after the heart operation in 2020 he looks much better. Several foreign media speculate whether this means that the king will soon abdicate. The king has always been clear that he will never abdicate, his oath to the Norwegian people lasts a lifetime, he has said. There has never been any tradition of abdication among the Norwegian kings. The Norwegian people also do not want abdication to become a Norwegian tradition. But we can see longer periods where Crown Prince Haakon takes over some of the king’s duties. Both King Haakon VII and King Olav V had long periods of illness towards the end of their lives without considering abdicating.

King Harald was the first King of Norway born on Norwegian soil in 567 years. He was born at the Skaugum Estate on 21 February 1937 and is the son of King Olav of Norway and his wife, Märtha, who was Crown Princess of Norway and was born a Princess of Sweden.

The last few years have been very special when it came to the celebrations of King Harald’s birthday. On his birthday in 2017, King Harald celebrated with his family on a private holiday in South Africa. Since the King and Queen were born in the same year, it has been a practice that the two mark their birthdays in one joint celebration. This celebration took place in May 2017 when most of Europe’s royals gathered in Oslo to celebrate the King and Queen both turning 80.

King Harald and Queen Sonja celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 2018 . As there were two anniversaries in a row, the 80th anniversaries in 2017 and the 25th anniversary of King Harald’s reign as monarch in 2016, the Royal Family decided not to have another new anniversary celebration in 2018.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written six books on historical subjects and more than 1.500 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.