Much is known about the life of the new King Charles III, but few know the story behind why he received his first name. The answer is that His Majesty is named after Queen Elizabeth’s favourite uncle, a Norwegian king.
The Norwegian and British royal families have very close ties. In 1896, Princess Maud of Wales married Prince Carl of Denmark. In 1905, this couple became King and Queen of Norway and Prince Carl became King Haakon VII of Norway. Norway’s Queen Maud was therefore the daughter of King Edward VII, sister of King George V and aunt of George VI.
The close ties led to the Norwegian royal family often visiting their British relatives. When Germany invaded Norway in 1940, King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav had to leave Norway and stay in exile in London. This led to the ties between the two branches of the family becoming even closer.
The bond became particularly strong between the then Princess Elizabeth and the Norwegian King Haakon VII. They had a good tone and as King Haakon was known within the family as Carl, Princess Elizabeth called the Norwegian king “Uncle Charles”. Queen Elizabeth herself has said several times that “Uncle Charles” was her favourite uncle.
When King Charles III was born in 1948, three years had passed since King Haakon had returned to Norway after the second world war. The ties were nevertheless strong, so Queen Elizabeth chose to name her first-born son, a future king, after her favourite uncle, Charles. King Haakon of Norway was then an obvious choice as the son’s godfather.
The story that King Charles III is named after the Norwegian King Haakon originates from King Haakon himself. In a letter to the then Princess Elizabeth, he wrote that he was deeply touched and honoured that she chose to name her first-born son after himself. The story of the origin of the name was most recently confirmed by the Norwegian Royal Court at the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
It should be said that King Haakon of Norway, as prince of Denmark and bearer of the name Carl, was again named after his grandfather. His grandfather was King Carl XV of Sweden and Norway. He was again named after his grandfather King Carl XIV Johan of Norway, who took the name Carl in 1810 when he was elected to be Crown Prince. He took the name in honour of his adoptive father King Carl XIII of Sweden.
So it happened that the new King of the United Kingdom is named after a Danish prince who became King of Norway 117 years ago.