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European RoyalsFeaturesNorway

King Harald V of Norway to celebrate 25 years on the throne

King Harald V of Norway is approaching a major anniversary in his Kingship. On 17 January 2016 he will mark 25 years on the throne. We take a look at his life so far!

King Harald V was born on 21 February 1937 as the third child and only son of Olav V of Norway and Princess Märtha of Sweden. His godparents were Haakon VII of Norway, Queen Maud of Norway, Prince Carl of Sweden, Princess Ingeborg of Sweden, Leopold III of Belgium, King George VI, Queen Mary  and Crown Princess Ingrid of Denmark. His two older sisters did not have successions right at the time of his birth.

King Harald, when Crown Prince.His early years were threatened by the outbreak of the Second World War. The royal family fled north and eventually decided to split up, with his grandfather and father remaining in Norway and his mothers and the three children making their way to Sweden. Despite being a Swedish Princess by birth Crown Princess Märtha encountered problems at the border. The story goes they were allowed to pass after the driver threatened to ram the border gate. They relocated to the United States on 17 August, where they lived in Washington, D.C. Harald’s father and grandfather had formed a Norwegian government in exile in London. The family returned to Norway at the end of the war in 1945.

He enrolled in public school that autumn. He graduated from Oslo Katedralskole in 1955 and began studying at the University of Oslo later that year. He also attended the Cavalry Officers’ Candidate School in Trandum and enrolled in the Norwegian Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1959.

On 21 September 1957 his father ascended  the throne as Olav V of Norway. Harald now became the Crown Prince of Norway. He attended his first Council of State on 27 September and took the oath to the Constitution of Norway on 21 February 1958. That same year he also served as regent for the first time. Harald is an avid sailor and even represented Norway in the yachting events of the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, where he also carried the flag at the opening ceremony, the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games and the 1972 Munich Olympic Games.

Amidst quite a bit of public controversy Harald fell in love with a commoner, Sonja Haraldsen. They married at the Oslo Domkirke on 29 August 1968. They have two children, Princess Märtha Louise and Crown Prince Haakon. Princess Märtha Louise had no succession rights at birth but the law was changed in 1990 allowing for the eldest child to succeed to the Norwegian throne regardless of gender. Female born before 1990 were given successions rights but Crown Prince Haakon still takes precedence over his sister.

Harald became King of Norway on 17 January 1991 upon the death of his father of a heart attack. His mother had died in 1954 and was never Queen of Norway. The King’s duties include appointing parliament, opening parliament every October, receiving foreign envoys and making official state visits. He has had some health troubles. He had bladder cancer in 2003 and aortic stenosis in 2005. Crown Prince Haakon served as regent while his father was ill.

He is currently 78 years old and through his son and daughter he and Queen Sonja have 5 grandchildren. Crown Prince Haakon’s eldest daughter Princess Ingrid Alexandra is expected to become Norway’s second Queen regnant after Queen Margaret I who reigned from 1387 to 1412.

Sunday 17 January is set to become a celebratory day. Several festivities are planned, including a concert, activities for children and workshops. The Royal Yacht will also make a special Jubilee journey along the Norwegian coast. The activities are free and open to everyone.

Photo credits: Crown Prince Harald in the Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons 

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