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Ship Ahoy! Norway’s Crown Prince Regent and Queen Sonja get the Royal Ship’s sailing season underway

Crown Prince Regent Haakon once again stepped in his father’s shoes to fulfill one of the King’s traditional duties for the month of May: the inspection of the Royal Ship Norge ahead of the summer sailing season. 

Given King Harald’s continuing recovery from an infection for which he had to be hospitalised for a week, Crown Prince Haakon stepped in and, together with Queen Sonja, boarded the ship for the traditional inspection. 

Mother and son embarked the Norge from the Royal Barge, in the Frognerkilen area of Oslo, and were welcomed by the ship’s commander, Captain Commander Geir Anders Hoff Aronsen. 

It was the Crown Prince who carried out the inspection, making sure that the ship was ready for its summer of official duties for which it was prepared by its crew of between 25 to 50 people. 

The Norge is a 1A1 Yacht weighing in at 1628 tonnes, built originally in 1937 by Camper & Nicholsons Ltd., an English firm. The ship measures 80.2 metres in length and 11.6 metres in width, with a depth of 4.7 metres. It can reach a maximum speed of 16 knots, but its cruising speed is just below that, at 14 knots, with a range of 6500 nautical miles. 

It was originally built in England in 1937 for British aircraft manufacturer Thomas Sopwith, who named it Philante. At the onset of World War II, the Royal Navy requisitioned the ship and used it as an escort ship first and a training ship later. In 1946, Philante was returned to Mr Sopwith. 

In 1947, the ship was purchased by Norway for 1.5 million NOK (at today’s exchange rate, that would be roughly 115.000 GBP), as a 75th birthday present for King Haakon VII, following an appeal from Norway’s newspapers. Once it was purchased and refurbished, the ship was also renamed, with the choice falling on a very patriotic monicker: Norge, or Norway. 

The refurbishments happened between 1947 and 1948 under the direction of architect Finn Nilsson, who had to do an extensive work especially on the interiors. On the 17th of May 1948, the command pennant was raised for the first time by Commander Captain Christian Monsen, and on the 9th of June the ship was officially handed to King Haakon. 

It was King Haakon VII who shaped the Royal Ship’s use that we still see today, taking it out both for personal and official use, a tradition that was passed down to King Olav V first, and King Harald later. 

Under King Olav, the ship experienced a severe fire that destroyed parts of it, the rebuilding of which was once again entrusted to Mr Nilsson. The occasion was also taken to make some safety upgrades in the equipment used within the ship. 

Nowadays, members of the Royal Family keep using the ship for both private and official duties. The Norge has served as a base for many official visits abroad, as well as when King Harald takes part in international regattas.