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European RoyalsNorway

The accession of King Harald V


Oskar Aanmoen/Royal Central

In Norway, monarchs aren’t crowned, they’re consecrated. King Haakon VII was the last king to be crowned, while his heirs, Olav and Harald, have been consecrated in ceremonies at Nidaros Cathedral in Oslo.

Prior to the consecration, King Harald swore an oath at the Storting (the Norwegian Parliament) during a formal ceremony. Taking place just days after his father’s death, Harald took the oath administered by the President of the Storting: “I solemnly swear to reign in the Kingdom of Norway in accordance with its Constitution and laws, so help me Almighty God.”

King Harald and Queen Sonja were officially consecrated on 23 June 1991, months after the death of Harald’s father, who’d passed away 17 January 1991. The ceremony, a stripped-down affair considering the splendour of a British coronation, involves an oath and a prayer, administered by the Bishop of Nidaros and the Bishop of Oslo.

The Royal House notes that, “King Olav V possessed profound historical insight and was imbued with a strong sense of tradition. Therefore, he expressed a personal desire to be consecrated in Nidaros Cathedral to receive God’s blessing upon his royal office. In his decision to be consecrated, King Olav V laid the foundation for the continuation of a tradition with roots going back to the hailing by the Øreting assembly and the coronations of the Norwegian kings from 1163 to 1906.”

As the monarchs arrived at Nidaros Cathedral, they were greeted by the Bishops, with Bishop Wagle, Bishop of Nidaros, saying, “May the Lord bless your going in and your coming out now and for evermore.”

King Harald and Queen Sonja then processed through the Cathedral and to the coronation thrones, which date back to 1818. They listened to the addresses and the lessons of the Bishops, before bowing their heads in prayer as the Royal Anthem was sung.

As King Harald and Queen Sonja knelt before the high altar, Bishop Wagle placed his hand on the king’s head and said the consecration prayer: “Bless King Harald V, strengthen him and lead him in the exercise of his solemn responsibilities.”

Bishop Wagle then blessed Queen Sonja, praying for God’s help for her to “use her abilities for the benefit of the country and the people.”

After their individual blessings, Bishop Wagle then read another blessing to the monarchs, saying, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you. Amen.”

To complete the ceremony, the Lord Chamberlain led King Harald and Queen Sonja back to their coronation thrones. The consecration ceremony was subdued, but the royal regalia, including the King’s Crown and the Queen’s Crown, were displayed in the Cathedral during the ceremony.

There were no foreign royal guests, though Crown Prince Haakon, just 17, and his sister, Princess Märtha Louise, 19, attended the ceremony.

King Harald and Queen Sonja’s consecration was followed by a 10-day consecration tour of Southern Norway; the following year, the entire Norwegian Royal Family spent 22 days in the four counties in Northern Norway. A tour of the country following a king’s consecration is one that dates back to the Middle Ages, when Norwegian kings would travel the country to “receive the homage of their subjects.”

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.