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Norway

King Harald speaks of the pain of losing his mother and his son-in-law


Photo: Oskar Aanmoen/Royal Central

In a new book about King Harald which will be published in Norway this autumn, the King speaks about the death of his former son-in-law Ari Behn. He praises his grandchildren and also shares his thoughts on the loss of his own mother, Crown Princess Martha.

King Harald himself lost his mother when he was a teenager. In a new book, he praises his granddaughter, Maud Angelica Behn, for the speech she gave at her father’s funeral and says that Ari Behn’s death has brought him even closer to his grandchildren. Ari Behn, the former husband of Princess Martha, took his own life 25 December 2019.

His Majesty says: “It was strong to hear the speech. I had not heard it before, but knew she was going to do it. She had given the speech for a small circle by the coffin of her father when it was at Ullevål hospital. It was a strong speech. I was proud of her.  I could not have done that.”

In the book King Harald reveals that Ari Behn should have visited the royal family at Kongsseteren on Christmas Day, but that did not happen. King Harald describes the moment they heard that Ari Behn had chosen to end his life: “We were together when it happened. It was a shock. We were so surprised, even though we knew he was in trouble. It is painful and it takes a long time to get over. The fact that we were together when we learned about the death gave us, as grandparents, the opportunity to get closer to our grandchildren. We have come much closer to each other.”

King Harald himself experienced the loss of a parent at a young age. In April 1954, his mother, Crown Princess Märtha, died after an illness, at the age of just 53 years. Prince Harald, as he was then, was 17 years old when he lost his mother, to whom he had been very close.

King Harald says: “It was a great loss. We knew quite a long time in advance that there was only one way this could go. Today, the medicine has come so far that she might have been cured. We stayed home from the Easter trip that year because she was in the hospital. I am not quite sure if she even knew how imminent it was. Maybe just as well for her, but I did not really get to say goodbye.”

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.