In a new summer series, Royal Central looks at the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and the other monarchs of Europe. This time we look at the relationship between the British Queen and the King of Norway.
There have always been close links between the Norwegian and British royal houses, all the way back to the Viking era when Norwegian kings also ruled over parts of what is today Britain. Fortunately, in modern times, the relationship has been somewhat more peaceful than it was 1000 years ago.
King Harald and Queen Elizabeth are second cousins. King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom are the great-grandparents of both the Norwegian and British monarchs. King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra had six children. One of them was a daughter, Maud. She married into the Danish Royal Family; her mother had, after all, been born a Danish princess. Maud’s marriage with Prince Carl took a dramatic turn in 1905. When Norway became independent, they needed a new monarchy. The Norwegian delegation asked Prince Carl to be king. He took the name Haakon, and Maud became Queen of Norway.
When King Haakon became King of Norway in 1905, there were two things that influenced the election. One was that he was married to Princess Maud, daughter of British King Edward VII. The other was that the couple already had an heir to the throne, their son Alexander, who was renamed Olav on his father’s succession. King Haakon and Queen Maud lived largely in England before they came to Norway. The Queen also retained her British home at Appleton House until she died in 1938.
After moving to Norway, Queen Maud maintained a strong connection to the country of her birth and usually visited over the winter months. These bonds were also important when King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav fled to London during World War II. King Olav also had strong ties to Britain. He was born at Appleton House and studied in Oxford.
Crown Prince, later King, Olav married the Swedish Princess Märtha who then became Crown Princess of Norway. Märtha died before she could become Queen of Norway, but before she died, she gave the Norwegians three royal children. This was the present king, Harald V, and his two sisters, Princess Astrid and Princess Ragnhild.
In the United Kingdom, another of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra’s children became monarch. Following his father’s death, George V became King; he was the brother of Queen Maud of Norway. He married Mary of Teck, and the couple had six children. Their second son later became King George VI, a first cousin of Olav. George VI is, of course, father of Queen Elizabeth II.
When Queen Elizabeth was to travel on her first trip abroad as Queen in 1955, it was to her family in Norway. At the honour bridge in Oslo, the Norwegian Royal Family, with King Haakon in the lead, welcomed her. The programme included a visit to the Viking ship museum, folk dance and lunch at the Skaugum Estate. Queen Elizabeth also visited her Norwegian family in 1981 and 2002.