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Royal Christmas

The gift to a king which is now the home for a royal Christmas celebration

The Norwegian Royal Family at the end of World War II

Every year, the Norwegian King and Queen celebrate Christmas at the grand royal lodge called “Kongsseteren” in the expensive neighbourhood of Holmenkollen in Oslo. Let us take a look at this magnificent royal property.

“Kongsseteren”, formerly called The Kings Villa, is a property and timber lodge which is under the Norwegian Royal Family’s private ownership. The property is mainly used in winter, and the Royal Family celebrates Christmas there every year.

King Haakon and Queen Maud received the Kongsseteren as a gift from the Norwegian people after their coronation in 1906; a fundraising campaign funded it. Some of the architecture details are inspired by the Norwegian farming tradition. Otherwise, it is built in New Baroque style with some Art Nouveau elements. The building started in 1906 and was finished in 1910.

The Royal Lodge in snow. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The lodge is a two-storey timber building. It has traditional outdoor-corridors and turf roofs; the building appears to be a fusion of both royal palaces, farmhouses and medieval castles. The property has been modernised several times so that it also remains a functional place to stay. The last time the property was renovated was in 2011.

Besides being the Christmas home of the Royal Family, the building is most known for being the favourite residence of King Olav. King Olav V of Norway often resided at The Royal Lodge all year. On 17 January 1991, while staying in The Royal Lodge, he became ill and died there.

The lodge is also known for being the place where Ari Behn proposed to Princess Märtha Louise in December 2001. Ari Behn later told the press that he had made a “love path” through the landscape in the garden of the Royal Lodge that ended up with him proposing. The Norwegian princess said yes, and the wedding was held in Trondheim in 2002. In 2017, Ari Behn and Princess Märtha Louise divorced.

The Royal Lodge. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

As a consequence of the terrorist attack against the United States in 2001, an investigation found that the Royal Palace in Oslo was poorly secured against attacks. Immediate action was taken. That is why the King and Queen stayed at the lodge during the summer, both in 2002 and 2003, while the security of the Royal Palace was improved.

In 2006, a full panic ensued when the fire alarm went off at the Royal Lodge. The lodge was made of dry and old timber and would have burnt quickly. In 1992, Holmenkollen Chapel, the Royal Lodge’s close neighbour, burnt to the ground. This was the chapel that the royals have used for their Christmas service every year. The fire crew moved out with all the crew to the lodge in 2006, but fortunately, it was a false alarm. One of the staff at the royal residence had cleaned an iron with a strong detergent that created a chemical reaction and a gas that triggered the fire alarm. None of the royals was present.

The lodge is often also the residence for royal guests from all over Europe. Both Queen Margrethe and Queen Silvia tend to visit Queen Sonja for a week during the winter each year. Then, they reside at the cabin and spend the time skiing in the forests north of Oslo. Also in 2014, the then-Queen Beatrix was a guest at the lodge.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written six books on historical subjects and more than 1.500 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.