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The monarch’s role in Norway

Peter Mydske/Stortinget/CC/Flickr

Each monarchy holds a different position within its country; not all monarchs have the same responsibilities, duties, and roles. King Harald V of Norway ascended the throne upon his father’s death in 1991.

As King of Norway, Harald fulfills several different functions, along with his wife, Queen Sonja, and his son, Crown Prince Haakon. 

As a constitutional monarch, King Harald has many ceremonial duties to fulfill. Like many monarchs, the Norwegian sovereign opens Parliament, known as the Storting in Norway, in spring each year. The King attends Parliament with The Queen and The Crown Prince and presides over a ceremony where he reads a speech from the throne that outlines the government’s plans. As in several other countries, the Prime Minister writes the address and gives it to the monarch to read. 

The Norwegian monarch also meets regularly with the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister, and members of the Defence Establishment. The King has no political power but can offer guidance and advice at these meetings. 

The King also sits in Council of State meetings. The Crown Prince has also sat in on Councils, and in 2022, Princess Ingrid Alexandra sat in on her first Council of State in honour of her 18th birthday as a future monarch. 

As King, Harald cannot pass legislation; laws can only be passed and enacted by Parliament in Norway. He can dissolve Parliament on the advice of the Prime Minister and then ask whoever has the most support in Parliament to form a new government. Technically the monarch can ask anyone to form a government, though the Norwegian monarch has not chosen a different person since 1928.

The Norwegian monarch also serves as head of state. The King and Queen will travel to other countries on State Visits as representatives of Norway and receive other heads of state when they visit Norway. They also receive all ambassadors to Norway in a tradition where the ambassador presents a Letter of Credence to the monarch. In 2021, The King received 25 different ambassadors. 

King Harald also serves as Commander-in-Chief of the Norwegian military. The monarch holds the rank of General in both the Air Force and the Army and the rank of Admiral in the Navy. He graduated from the Norwegian Military Academy in 1959. 

The Chief of Defence is the highest-ranking military official, and they present any plans to the King and Prime Minister. 

The Norwegian monarch used to serve as the head of the Church of Norway. However, the Norwegian Constitution was amended in 2011, and the monarch no longer serves in this role. 

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