The Norwegian Royal Family: What you need to know

Norwegian Royal Family -Haakon - Mette Marit - Ingrid Alexandra - Sverre MagnusPhoto: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix

The Royal Family of Norway is one of the world’s most unique monarchies – and we’re here to bring you all of the royal reasons why.

“Cool” might not be the first word that comes to mind when you think about monarchies – but after reading about the Norwegian Royal Family, that might just change. 

First, let’s set the scene.

The Norwegian monarchy through time

The first Norwegian monarch is considered to be the Viking known as Harald Fairhair, who unified the scattered chiefdoms of 9th-century Norway into a single land around the year 885 CE. 

In the last millennium, Norway has had over 60 sovereigns. Norway faced its longest period as a subordinate to other monarchies from the 14th century (minus a short time in 1814 following the Napoleonic Wars) to 1905 – when it became an independent nation.

In 1905, Norway chose King Haakon VII as its own ruler, beginning the modern-era Norwegian monarchy.

King Haakon VII ruled until 1957 and is world-famous for his mid-20th-century role in the Norwegian Royal Family. During his reign WWII began, and the Nazis began to target Norway, being a country rich in iron.

The enemies planned to implement a puppet government under Vidkun Quisling as prime minister and gain support from the Royal Family. But the Royal Family consistently refused to comply.

Instead, King Haakon VII threatened to abdicate, after which the Nazis bombed parts of the country, and the Royal Family fled Norway. King Haakon VII formed a government in exile with Norwegian political leaders in London.

During this time, the King consistently made motivational speeches to the citizens of Norway via BBC radio. The Nazis ended up outlawing public showings of his image, which had become a symbol of resistance.

In June of 1945, King Haakon VII returned home to cheering crowds.

Members of the Royal Family and Royal House today

In Norway, there’s a distinction between members of the Norwegian Royal Family (kongelige familie) and the Royal House (kongehuset). 

The Royal House refers to the queen or king and their spouse, the heir apparent and their spouse, and the oldest child of the heir apparent.

The Royal Family, on the other hand, denotes, basically, all Norwegian royalty: this includes the queen’s and king’s children and their spouses, the queen’s and king’s grandchildren and their spouses, and the queen’s and king’s siblings and their spouses. 

King Harald
King Harald during the 75th liberation anniversary at the Akershus Fortress on May 8. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix

His Majesty King Harald V

At the time of writing, the king of Norway is King Harald V, born on February 21, 1937. HM the King’s birthplace was the royal manor Skaugum, located in the Asker municipality 19 kilometers southwest of Oslo.

King Harald V succeeded his father as king on January 17, 1991. Like King Haakon VII, he belongs to the House of Glücksburg.

As a prince, Harald V completed military education at the Norwegian Military Academy in 1959, after which he studied economics, history, and social science at Oxford University and Balliol College.

An avid yachtsman, King of Norway Harald V competed in sailing at the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympic Games. In the Sailing World Championships, he received silver in 1982, gold in 1987, and bronze in 1988.

At the European Championships, he won gold in 2005 and continues to participate in regattas each year to this day.

Among his decades of active community service and social work, King Harald V was president of the Norwegian chapter of the World Wildlife Fund for 20 years.

Queen Sonja
Queen Sonja holding a speech. Photo: Stian Lysberg Solum / NTB scanpix

Her Majesty Queen Sonja

Her Majesty Queen Sonja was born as Miss Sonja Haraldsen on July 4, 1937, in Oslo. She became queen on January 17, 1991.

Queen Sonja studied accounting, fashion design, and social science at the École Professionelle des Jeunes Filles in Switzerland and French, English, and art history at the University of Oslo.

Then-Prince Harald and then-Miss Sonja Haraldsen met in 1959 and kept their relationship a secret – for quite a long time, at that. Nine years later, it was announced that then-King Olav was allowing then-Prince Harald to marry a non-royal. Prince Harald and Miss Sonja Haraldsen married in Oslo on August 29, 1968.

Queen Sonja is actively engaged in social work and cultural activities. She participates in numerous projects and charity work for at-risk, immigrant, and minority groups. She was also Vice President of the Norwegian Red Cross from 1987 to 1990.

Her hobbies include graphic art, ceramics, music, and photography.

Prince Haakon
Crown Prince Haakon during the May 17 celebrations outside Skaugum in Asker. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon

The son of the King and Queen, Crown Prince Haakon, was born on July 20, 1973, in Oslo. He is the heir apparent to the Norwegian throne.

Crown Prince Haakon studied political science at the University of California, Berkeley, and development studies, with a specialization in international trade and Africa, at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Since 2003, the Crown Prince has been a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program.

His social work focuses are fighting poverty, keeping the oceans clean, and promoting youth leadership and integration.

His hobbies include surfing, music, and skiing.

Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit

Crown Princess Mette-Marit was born as Miss Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby on August 19, 1973, in Kristiansand. She became the Crown Princess of Norway in 2001.

She studied ethics at the University of Oslo and took examinations in Development-Experience, HIV/AIDS and Development, The Global Refugee Crisis, and Theories of Development at the University of London. 

She also studied management at the BI Norwegian School of Management in Oslo.

She met HRH Crown Prince Haakon in the 1990s, and they became engaged on December 1, 2000. The couple was married in Oslo on August 25, 2001.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit
The Crown Princess of Norway. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix

Crown Princess Mette-Marit is a patron of the Norwegian Red Cross among numerous other charitable organizations. Her social work focuses include promoting Norwegian literature, entrepreneurship, mental health, sustainability, social inclusion, the environment, and youth leadership.

She is also a divorcee, was a single mother, had a self-proclaimed “rebellious youth,” like many people are ought to do, and was born a non-royal.

Remember the word “cool” yet?

The Crown Princess and the Crown Prince have two children together: Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Prince Sverre Magnus. Marius Borg Høiby, born January 13, 1997, is Crown Prince Haakon’s stepson and Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s son from a previous relationship.

At age 21, Borg Høiby declined to carry out royal duties and opted to make his own living instead. He is in a relationship with Juliane Snekkestad, a model who doesn’t shy away from showing skin. 

The Royal House for Norway has publicly stated support for the couple’s freedom and privacy along with compliments to Snekkestad.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s hobbies include film, literature, outdoor exercise, and theatre.

Princess Ingrid Alexandra
Princess Ingrid Alexandra during the May 17 celebrations outside Skaugum in Asker. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix

Her Royal Highness Princess Ingrid Alexandra

Princess Ingrid Alexandra was born on January 21, 2004, in Oslo. She is second in line of succession to the Norwegian throne.

The Princess currently attends Uranienborg School in Oslo.

She has already carried out a number of official duties, such as opening the Palace Park of sculptures – which are all made by children for children.

Her hobbies include kickboxing, skiing, and surfing.

Prince Sverre Magnus
Prince Sverre Magnus during the May 17 celebrations outside Skaugum in Asker. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix

His Highness Prince Sverre Magnus

Prince Sverre Magnus was born on December 3, 2005, in Oslo. He is third in line of succession to the Norwegian throne.

The Prince currently attends Oslo Montessori School.

His hobbies include biking, skiing, and surfing.

Her Highness Martha Louise
Her Highness Martha Louise. Photo: Terje Bendiksby / NTB scanpix

Her Highness Princess Märtha Louise

Princess Märtha Louise was born on September 22, 1971, in Oslo. She is fourth in line of succession to the Norwegian throne.

Sister of Crown Prince Haakon, Princess Märtha Louise is the oldest child of King Harald and Queen Sonja. In 1990, a new constitutional amendment established the right of the eldest child to succeed to the throne, regardless of gender. This did not, however, include those born before 1990: for them, the agnatic law of succession still applied.

The Princess studied literature at Oxford University and, in parallel, completed training in show jumping which she actively practiced until retiring in 2000.

Princess Märtha Louise was married to the late artist, author, and playwright Mr. Ari Behn on May 24, 2002. They had three children together: Maud Angelica Behn, Leah Isadora Behn, and Emma Tallulah Behn. The couple decided to divorce in 2017. 

Princess Märtha Louise is an active patron of charity organizations, and her social work largely focuses on people with disabilities.

She works as a storyteller and author, among other professional activities. She’s been subject to Norwegian tax laws after deciding to establish a sole proprietorship on January 1, 2002. She lives in a private home with her daughters.

Princess Märtha Louise is also active on social media, which she uses as a platform to raise awareness for various social justice causes.

Why the Norwegian Royal Family rocks

They live a modest life – compared to other royal families

If you’re wondering what the Norwegian Royal Family’s net worth is – the answer might not be what you expect. 

In fact, they’re one of the world’s poorest monarchies (though not actually “poor” by any means). For one, the members of the family actively try to earn their own money – and donate a lot of it to charity. 

The Royal Family is also known to use public transport and mingle with non-royals; for example, choosing public sections of beaches.

Both Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Prince Sverre Magnus attend public schools.

The Norwegian Royal Family also often chooses to dress modestly. Crown Princess Mette-Marit, for example, decided to wear a small-name, local brand (Ove Harder Finseth) wedding dress.

They accept non-royal marriages

Some members of the Royal Family of Norway were and are married to people not of royal birth.

This includes King Harald, his sister Princess Astrid, and Crown Prince Haakon.

They’re sovereignly silly

The Norwegian Royal Family has a sense of humor. 

King Harald V has been known to joke about his old age.

Prince Haakon once played a prank during his parents’ anniversary celebration, when he disappeared, secretly shaved off his beard, and promptly casually reappeared without it. 

Prince Sverre takes after his father and grandfather: he’s been caught by cameras dabbing on the balcony during a traditional royal address by the Norwegian Royal Family from Oslo Palace.

The Royal Palace in Oslo
The Royal Palace in Oslo. Photo: Delia Giandeini / Unsplash

What do you think about the hype over royals in general? Are you a fan of any? Let us know in the comments.

Source: Norway Today, #NorwayTodayTravel

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1 Comment on "The Norwegian Royal Family: What you need to know"

  1. Samrat Acharya | 22. October 2020 at 19:38 | Reply

    ‘Poor’ the word should not be in Norwegian Dictionary;as long as the phrase ‘COVID-19’ is present in my Dictionary.

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