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Harald V
Preceded by Olav V
Succeeded by Haakon
Personal details
Born 21 February 1937(1937-02-21) (age 85)
Skaugum, Akershus, Norway
Spouse(s) Sonja Haraldsen (m. 1968)

Harald V (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈhɑrːɑɫ]; born 21 February 1937) is the King of Norway, having ascended the throne following the death of his father on 17 January 1991.

Harald was the third child and only son of King Olav V of Norway and Princess Märtha of Sweden. He was second in the line of succession at the time of his birth, behind his father. In 1940, as a result of the German occupation during World War II, the royal family went into exile. Harald spent part of his childhood in Sweden and the United States. He returned to Norway in 1945, and subsequently studied for periods at the University of Oslo, the Norwegian Military Academy and Balliol College, Oxford.

In 1957, following the death of his grandfather, Haakon VII, Harald became crown prince. A keen sportsman, he represented Norway in sailing at the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympic Games, and later became patron of World Sailing. Harald married Sonja Haraldsen in 1968, their relationship having initially being controversial due to her status as a commoner. The couple had two children, Märtha and Haakon. Harald succeeded his father as king in 1991, with Haakon becoming his heir apparent.

Early life and education


Prince Harald was born at the Skaugum estate and was baptized in the Royal Chapel of the Royal Palace in Oslo on 31 March 1937 by Bishop Johan Lunde. His godparents were: his paternal grandparents King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway, his maternal grandparents Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg of Sweden, King Leopold III of Belgium, Queen Mary and King George VI of the United Kingdom, and Crown Princess Ingrid of Denmark. His parents already had two daughters, Princess Ragnhild and Princess Astrid.

Second World War

Prince Harald as a child

In 1940 the entire royal family had to flee Oslo because of the German invasion. It was deemed safer for the family to split up. The King and Crown Prince Olav would remain in Norway and the Crown Princess was to make her way to Sweden with the three children. The latter party reached Sweden on the night of 10 April, but although Crown Princess Märtha was Swedish-born, they encountered problems at the border station. According to Princess Astrid and others who were present, they were admitted only after the driver threatened to ram the border gate. Another account does not describe the escape so dramatically.[1] However, when the King and Crown Prince inquired of Swedish foreign minister Christian Günther whether they could sleep one night in Sweden without being interned, they were denied.[1]

Harald spent the following days in Sälen before moving to Prince Carl Bernadotte's home in Frötuna on 16 April. On 26 April the group moved to Drottningholm in Stockholm. King Gustaf V has been accounted to have had an amicable relationship with his Norwegian guests, but the topic of the war in Norway was not to be raised. However, influential Swedish politicians, including Minister of Justice Westman, wanted the Crown Princess and Prince Harald to be sent back to Norway so he could be proclaimed King by the Germans.[1][2] After the King and Crown Prince had to leave Norway on 7 June they felt Sweden might not be the best place for the rest of the family, and started planning for them to go to the United States. On 17 August the Crown Princess and her children left for the United States from Petsamo, Finland, aboard the United States Army transport ship American Legion.[1]

Harald and his mother and sisters lived in Washington, D.C. during the war,[3] while his father, Crown Prince Olav, and his grandfather, King Haakon, stayed in London with the Norwegian government-in-exile. One of the notable events he remembers from that time is standing behind Franklin D. Roosevelt when he was sworn in for his fourth term on the South Portico of the White House in 1945. Such childhood experiences are reflected in a trace of an American accent when he speaks English.[4] The Doris Kearns Goodwin book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the Home Front in World War II contains a picture of the King (then Prince) playing with FDR's dog, Fala, on the North Lawn of the White House in 1944.

Harald visited Norwegian servicemen training in the United States. The prince also made visits outside America, travelling north to visit Norwegian personnel at the training base "Little Norway" in Ontario, Canada. He attended The White Hall Country School from 1943. Prince Harald returned to Norway with his family at the war's end in 1945.


In the autumn of 1945 he was enrolled in third grade of Smestad skole as the first member of the royal family to attend public school. Amidst this, in 1954 tragedy struck as he lost his mother to cancer and 4 years later in 1958 he would lose his maternal grandmother Princess Ingeborg of Denmark.

Crown prince

In 1955 he graduated from Oslo katedralskole and in the autumn of that year, Harald began studies at the University of Oslo. He later attended the Cavalry Officers' Candidate School at Trandum, followed by enrolment at the Norwegian Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1959. While a student at the academy, he was given the title Crown prince in 1957. Harald attended the Council of State for the first time on 27 September 1957 and took the oath to the Constitution of Norway on 21 February 1958. In the same year, he also served as regent in the King's absence for the first time.

In 1960, Harald entered Balliol College, Oxford where he studied history, economics and politics.[4] He was a keen rower during his student days at Oxford and was taught to row by fellow student and friend Nick Bevan, later a leading British school rowing coach. In 1960, he also made his first official journey abroad, visiting the United States in connection with the fiftieth anniversary of the American Scandinavian Foundation. An avid sailor,[5] Harald represented Norway in the yachting events of Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964[6] and in Mexico City in 1968[4] and the Munich 1972. The Crown Prince carried the Norwegian flag at the opening parade of the 1964 Summer Olympics.


Royal wedding photography, 1968

Harald married a commoner, Sonja Haraldsen, at Oslo Domkirke in Oslo on 29 August 1968. The pair had dated for nine years prior to their marriage and were only allowed to marry when Harald gave his father the ultimatum that if he was not allowed to marry Sonja he would not marry at all, which would have ended the monarchy. The couple have two children, Princess Märtha Louise and Crown Prince Haakon, heir apparent to the Norwegian throne.

Reign as King

On the death of his father on 17 January 1991, Harald succeeded automatically to the Norwegian throne. He became the first Norwegian-born monarch since Magnus VII abdicated in 1343, a gap of 648 years. Harald is the sixth King of Norway to bear that name, and the first in 855 years. The five other kings who have borne the name are Harald Fairhair, Harald Greycloak, Harald Bluetooth, Harald Hardrada, and Harald Gille. Harald Bluetooth is usually not given a number in the Norwegian list of kings, therefore Harald is 'only' numbered as Harald V. King Harald made the decision to use his grandfathers royal motto, «Alt for Norge». The King also chose to continue the tradition of royal benediction, a tradition that had been introduced with this father, and was consecrated together with Queen Sonja in the Nidaros Cathedral on the 23. June 1991.[7] The reign of King Harald has been marked by modernization and reform for the Norwegian Royal family. The King has cooperated closely with Queen Sonja and the Crown Prince in making the royal household more open to the Norwegian public and the Norwegian media. King Harald's decision to accept two more commoners into the royal family, that being Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Ari Behn, has been interpreted as a sign of modernization and adjustment.[8][9] Under King Harald and Queen Sonja's leadership, comprehensive renovation projects on the Bygdøy Royal Estate, the Royal Palace and Oscarshall have also taken place. The latter two have also been opened to the public and tourists.[10]

Official and unofficial duties

The King heads the Council of State at the Royal Palace every Friday. He also has weekly meetings with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He receives foreign envoys, and opens parliament every October. According to the Norwegian constitution, he appoints his government. Since 1884 parliamentarism has been in place in Norway, meaning that the government has to have support from Parliament. The King appoints the leader of the parliamentary bloc with majority as prime minister. When the parliamentary situation is unclear the king relies on the advice of the President of Parliament and the sitting prime minister. As the Norwegian head of state, the King formally opens the parliamentary session every autumn, delivering a speech from the throne during each opening. He travels extensively throughout Norway and makes official state visits to other countries as well as receiving and hosting guests.

King Juan Carlos I of Spain on visit in Norway (2006)

In 1994, both the King and Crown Prince Haakon played roles during the opening ceremony of the Lillehammer Olympics. The King opened the games, while the Crown Prince lit the cauldron, paying tribute to both the King and his grandfather as Olympians. The King has also represented Norway at opening ceremonies of Olympic Games, among them Torino and Beijing. However, he wasn't present in Vancouver, the Crown Prince attended instead, with the King and Queen attending later in the games.

With his sailing crew he won World Championship bronze, silver and gold medals, in 1988, 1982 and 1987, respectively. In July 2005, the King and his crew aboard the royal sailboat Fram XV won the gold medal at the European Championships in Sweden. In the 2007 World Championship the King obtained a sixth place.[11]

Twice since the start of the twenty-first century King Harald was unable to perform his monarchical duties due to ill-health: in December 2003 to mid-April 2004 due to urinary bladder cancer, and in April to early June 2005 due to aortic stenosis. Crown Prince Haakon served as the country's regent on both occasions.

Until 2012, the King of Norway was, according to the constitution, the formal head of the Church of Norway. The constitutional amendment of 21 May 2012 made the King no longer the formal head but is still required to be of the Evangelical Lutheran religion.

Recent years

King Harald’s leadership during Norwegian national crisis’s, such as New Year's Day Storm and particularly the 2011 attacks, has been met with both national and international acclaim.[12][13][14][15]

The University Of Oslo Colouring.jpg

In 2015, he became the world's first reigning monarch to visit Antarctica, specifically the Norwegian dependency Queen Maud Land.[16] In 2016, King Harald V competed with a team for the sailing World Championships on Lake Ontario, Toronto.[17] The king came second in the classic fleet category.[18] He was dubbed "Sailor-King" by the Canadian National post as he slept onboard his yacht "Sira".[19]

Gamlehaugen Colouring.jpg

When the King and Queen turned 80 years in 2017, the King decided to open the former royal stables to the public as a gift to his wife, the Queen. The new venue was named The Queen Sonja Art Stable and is the first institution owned by the royal family which is permanently open to the public.[20] King Harald was made Name of the Year by the newspaper VG in 2017.[21]

Titles, styles, arms


  • 21 February 1937 – 21 September 1957: His Royal Highness Prince Harald of Norway
  • 21 September 1957 – 17 January 1991: His Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Norway
  • 17 January 1991 – present: His Majesty The King of Norway


Honours and medals

The King is a four-star general, an admiral, and formally the Supreme Commander of the Norwegian Armed Forces. The infantry battalion His Majesty the King's Guard are considered the King's and the Royal Family's bodyguards. They guard the Royal residences, including the Royal Palace, the Crown Prince Residence at Skaugum, and the Royal Mausoleum at Akershus Castle.

National honours and medals

The King is Grand Master of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav and the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit.

Medal record
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1987 World Championship Sailing
Silver medal – second place 1982 World Championship Sailing
Bronze medal – third place 1988 World Championship Sailing
European Championships
Gold medal – first place 2005 European Championship Sailing
  •  Norway – Grand Master of the Royal Norwegian Order of St Olav – Grand Cross with collar of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav°
  •  Norway – Grand Master of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit – Grand Cross°
  •  Norway – St Olav's medal°
  •  Norway – Defence Service Medal with Laurel Branch°
  •  Norway – Royal House Centennial Medal°
  •  Norway – King Haakon VII Commemorative Medal 1. October 1957°
  •  Norway – King Haakon VII 1905–1955 Jubilee Medal°
  •  Norway – Haakon VIIs Centenary Medal°
  •  Norway – Olav Vs Commemorative Medal of 30. January 1991°
  •  Norway – Olav Vs Jubilee Medal°
  •  Norway – Olav Vs Centenary Medal°
  •  Norway – Defence Service Medal with three stars°
  •  Norway – Army National Service Medal with three stars°
  •  Norway – Krigsdeltakerforbundet Badge of Honour°
  •  Norway – Norwegian Red Cross Badge of Honour°
  •  Norway – Norwegian Reserve Officers Federal Badge of Honour°
  •  Norway – The Naval Society Medal of Merit in gold°
  •  Norway – Norwegian Shooting Society Badge of Honour°
  •  Norway – The Norwegian Confederation of Sports Centenary Medal°
  •  Norway – Norwegian Shooting Society Commemorative Medal in gold°
  •  Norway – Oslo Military Society Badge of Honour in Gold°

Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav Royal Norwegian Order of Merit St Olav's medal

Defence Service Medal with Laurel Branch The Royal House Centenary Medal Haakon VIIs Commemorative Medal 1. October 1957 Haakon VIIs Jubilee Medal 1905–1955

Haakon VIIs Centenary Medal Olav Vs Commemorative Medal of 30. January 1991 Olav Vs Jubilee Medal Olav Vs Centenary Medal

Defence Service Medal National Service Medal Krigsdeltakerforbundet Badge of Honour Norwegian Red Cross Badge of Honour

Norwegian Reserve Officers Federal Badge of Honour The Naval Society Medal of Merit in gold Norwegian Shooting Society Badge of Honour Oslo Military Society Badge of Honour in Gold

Foreign honours

In the British Army, Harald V was the final Colonel-in-Chief of the Green Howards.[22] He is also an honorary Colonel in the British Royal Marines.[23] He is patron of the Anglo-Norse Society in London, together with Queen Elizabeth II, his second cousin. Harald is the first foreign monarch in the line of succession to the British throne, because of his descent from King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. He is a Stranger Knight of the Garter, an Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, and a Recipient of the Royal Victorian Chain, as well as numerous other orders of chivalry.

Northern European countries

Other countries

The mark ° shows honours mention on his official website page about decorations

Miscellaneous honours

Harald V received an honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law from Oxford University in 2006 (as did his father, King Olav, in 1937, and his grandfather, King Haakon, in 1943).[38] The King also received honorary doctorates from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland in 1994,[39] the University of Strathclyde in Scotland in 1985, Waseda University in Japan in 2001, and Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, in 2015. He is also an honorary fellow at Balliol College, Oxford.

  •  Ireland – Freedom of the City of Cork.
  • Spirit of Luther Award, awarded by Luther College of Decorah, IA
  • A 230,000 km² area in Antarctica is named Prince Harald Coast in his honour.
  • In 2007 King Harald was awarded the Holmenkollen medal with Simon Ammann, Frode Estil, Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset, and his wife Queen Sonja.
  •  Portugal – Key of Honor to the City of Lisbon, on 28 May 2008 [40]
  • In 2013, a 6,500 km² area in Svalbard was named Harald V Land.[41]


King Harald is closely related to other European monarchs. He is the first cousin once removed of King Philippe of Belgium and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg, the second cousin of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, and the second cousin once removed of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

Patrilineal descent


Name Birth Marriage
Date Spouse Issue
Princess Märtha Louise September 22, 1971 May 24, 2002 Ari Behn
    • Maud Angelica Behn, born 29 April 2003
    • Leah Isadora Behn, born 8 April 2005
    • Emma Tallulah Behn, born 29 September 2008
Crown Prince Haakon Magnus July 20, 1973 August 25, 2001 Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby
    • Princess Ingrid Alexandra, born 21 January 2004
    • Prince Sverre Magnus, born 3 December 2005


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Hegge, Per Egil; Harald V, En biografi; N.W. Damm & Søn AS; 2006.
  2. "Kidnapper Foiled?". Time. 2 September 1940.,9171,764542,00.html. Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  3. "Non-Political Campaign". Time Magazine. 9 September 1940. p. 2.,9171,764591-2,00.html. Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Those Apprentice Kings and Queens Who May – One Day – Ascend a Throne," New York Times. 14 November 1971.
  5. "Victory by Design". Time Magazine. 27 September 1963. p. 1.,9171,875198,00.html. Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  6. "". Time Magazine. 26 June 1964. p. 2.,9171,898168-2,00.html. Retrieved 17 January 2009. 
  7. "The Consecration of King Harald and Queen Sonja" (in no). 
  8. NRK. "– Å si at vi ikke er åpne, er rett og slett feil" (in nb-NO). NRK. 
  9. "Stanghelle: "Kong Harald står frem som mannen som forstår sin egen tid"". Aftenposten. 
  10. "The Royal Palace is open to the public" (in en). 
  11. Sandefjords Blad on the King's performance in the World Championship (Norwegian) Retrieved 10 September 2007.[dead link]
  12. Erlanger, Steven (2011-10-15). "King Harald of Norway Proves Mettle With Response to July 22 Deaths" (in en-US). The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. 
  13. "Norway remembers 77 killed in massacre" (in en). 2011-08-21. 
  14. "Kongen om terrorangrepet: - Våre tanker går til ofrene" (in no). VG. 
  15. "- Hans aller beste tale" (in no). 2011-08-21. 
  16. "King Harald visits Antarctic namesake". The Local. 11 February 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
    "Sun shines for king in Antarctica". 11 February 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
    "King Harald begins Antarctic visit". The Norway Post. 11 February 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2015. 
  17. "King Harald of Norway in Canada to participate in sailing World Championships – Royal Central" (in en-GB). 
  18. "North American Eight Metre Association". 
  19. "Norway's sailor king: Why Harald V has been sleeping on a yacht moored on Toronto's waterfront" (in en). National Post. 
  20. "The Art Stable is open" (in en). 
  21. "Kongebiograf: Kong Harald blir mer populær jo eldre han blir" (in no). 
  22. "No. 52834". 14 February 1992. 
  23. "No. 48634". 9 June 1981. 
  24. "Noblesse et Royautés" Archived 22 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine., Guests to Victoria of Sweden's wedding, Photo Archived 8 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  25. Noblesse et Royautés Archived 17 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine. (French), State visit of President of Finland in Norway, 2012, Photo Archived 17 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  26. Lithuanian Presidency Archived 19 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine., Lithuanian Orders searching form
  27. "King of Norway awarded Honorary Freedom of Newcastle". Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Retrieved 18 December 2008. 
  28. Solholm, Rolleiv (14 November 2008). "King Harald receives honorary title". Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation. Norway Post. Retrieved 14 November 2008. [dead link]
  29. "Reply to a parliamentary question" (in German) (PDF). p. 170. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  30. Belga Pictures, State visit of Norway in Belgium, May 2003, Group photo Archived 25 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine., Harald V & Paola Archived 25 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine., Albert II & Sonja Archived 13 July 2012 at
  31. Italian Presidency website, decorations – Harald V : Grand CrossCollar
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 Portuguese presidential website, Orders search form
  33. Slovak republic website, State honours Archived 13 April 2016 at the Wayback Machine. : 1st Class received in 2010 (click on "Holders of the Order of the 1st Class White Double Cross" to see the holders' table)
  34. Boletín Oficial del Estado
  35. Boletín Oficial del Estado
  36. Boletín Oficial del Estado
  37. "Official State visit of Norway (Photo of Order of State and Order of St. Olaf)". Presidency of Republic of Turkey. 5 November 2013. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  38. Article in VG on the honorary doctorate (Norwegian)
  39. "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". 
  40. "State Visit continues". The Royal House of Norway. Retrieved 16 March 2014. 
  41. "New land area named after King Harald". 23 September 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2013. 

External links

Harald V
House of Glücksburg
Born: 21 February 1937
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Olav V
King of Norway
Heir apparent:
Crown Prince Haakon
Norwegian royalty
Preceded by
Crown Prince of Norway
Succeeded by

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