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Why was Queen Elizabeth II’s first state visit to Norway?

Elizabeth II, 1959
By Government of Canada - via flickr at [1], CC BY 2.0, Wiki Commons

This year brings another special anniversary for the Queen’s long and historic reign. This summer marks 65 years since Queen Elizabeth’s first State Visit. It took place in June 1955 and saw the new Monarch travel to the the Kingdom of Norway. So, why was Norway the first nation that the Queen visited after her coronation?

The first reason was that the British and Norwegian Royal Family enjoy a strong and historic friendship. They are also close relatives. Queen Elizabeth is a second cousin of the present King Harald V of Norway, who has ruled since 1991. At the time of the visit in 1955 King Harald was only a Prince of Norway and his grandfather, Haakon VII, was the ruling King.

Princess Maud, the daughter of King Edward VII (Queen Elizabeth’s great-grandfather), married Prince Carl of Denmark who in 1905 became King Haakon VII of Norway. This made the British born Maud, Queen of Norway. During World War II, King Haakon VII and Crown Prince Olav were in exile in the United Kingdom. During this period, they met their British relatives regularly and became very good friends. The future Queen Elizabeth, who at that time was a princess, developed a very good relationship and friendly bond with King Haakon, a man she referred to as “Uncle Haakon” for the rest of her life.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip with the Norwegian royal family in Oslo in 1955. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The second reason was to strengthen an already close diplomatic and military tie between the two nations. Norway and the UK were important allies during World War II and ever since the 18th century the UK and Norway have had close and important trade relations. In the 1950s, trade between the two nations was focused on fish and timber. The Queen’s visit in 1955 was central to establishing good trade agreements.

In 2001, Her Majesty the Queen spoke of the close ties to Norway at a state banquet with King Harald. Then the Queen said: “Your Majesty, we are proud of our kinship and common heritage with Norway. We are equally proud of the richness and diversity of our modern relationship. Our cultural ties are also strong. Our kinship and our common heritage now underpin a rich and diverse relationship as advanced industrial societies. This is what makes Britain and Norway such natural partners.”



About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.