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King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway mark 30th anniversary of coronation blessing

Photo: Jørgen Gomnæs / The Royal Court

On June 23, it was exactly 30 years since King Harald and Queen Sonja were blessed by the Norwegian Church in a large-scale ceremony. The incident took place in Northern Europe’s largest cathedral, the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. The royal couple thus carried on the tradition King Olav introduced in 1958. The blessing was introduced as a ritual after the coronation ceremony in Norway was abolished in 1906.

In connection with the blessing, the King and Queen carried out a ten-day tour of southern Norway. The voyage back to Oslo went along the coast with the Norwegian Royal Yacht. The following year, the Royal Family made a 22-day journey in the four northernmost counties. The custom of carrying out a long journey to several parts of the country in connection with the coronation and blessing goes back to the kings in the Middle Ages in Norway.

Prior to the ceremony, the royal regalia was transferred from Norway’s National Bank in Oslo to the city of Trondheim and the Nidaros Cathedral. During the ceremony, the King and Queen’s crowns were placed on either side of the high altar. In Nidaros Cathedral, the royal couple were received by the Bishop of Nidaros and the Bishop of Oslo. The Bishops greeted the King with the words: “God preserve your entrance and your exit from now and forever.”

The procession continued into the church, and the King and Queen took seats on the coronation chairs from 1818. After the sermon and the text reading, the bishop read the prayer, and King Harald stepped forward. The King knelt before the high altar. Bishop Wagle laid his hand on the King’s head and said the prayer: “Almighty God, you have been our dwelling place from generation to generation, and your kingdom will never be shaken. You are the Lord, and for you, every knee must bow. We pray, look in mercy to him who kneels before you here.”

The current monarch’s grandfather, King Haakon VII, was the last king to be crowned in Norway. In 2006, King Harald was interviewed in connection with the 100th anniversary of the last coronation, and he was asked why he never uses the crown. The King then replied: “It is impractical, probably uncomfortable, too. I do not know, I have never worn it. I have never wanted to wear it either.”

Today’s 30th anniversary of the blessing should actually have been celebrated throughout Norway, but due to the pandemic, the celebration has been cancelled.

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.