A special anniversary: It has been 30 years since Norway’s King Harald and Queen Sonja were consecrated

King Harald - Queen Sonja - consecratedPhoto: Bjørn Sigurdsøn / NTB

It was both a holiday and a folk festival in Trondheim when the royal couple, in June 1991, was consecrated in Nidaros Cathedral. Wednesday marks 30 years since the ceremony.

Through the royal benediction, the royal couple continued a tradition King Olav introduced in 1958. During the ceremony, King Harald was consecrated as a “king of the will of the people,” which differs from the custom of crowning the king – which was removed from the Constitution in 1908.

The ceremony itself was described as a great folk festival. Thousands of people showed up in Trondheim city center when the royal couple drove in an open car to the signing service. Nearly 2,000 people had been accommodated inside Nidaros Cathedral.

Strengthen and lead him

With his right hand on the kneeling King Harald’s head, Bishop of Nidaros Finn Wagle read the signing prayer.

“Consecrate King Harald V, strengthen and lead him in his work as King of Norway. Let his service to the people and the Church be a blessing,” he said, among other things.

Then the bishop turned to the queen:

“Let her work be in support of the king’s deed. Help her use abilities and forces for the joy and benefit of Norway’s country and people,” he said.

Present were the entire government and all the country’s bishops dressed in stately robes for the occasion. The Armed Forces also left their mark on Trondheim during the consecration, with 700–800 soldiers in formation along Munkegata, royal salutes from the cannons on Kristiansten, 19 naval vessels on the Trondheim Fjord, and 20 fighter jets in formation over the city.

Coronation abolished

The consecration of King Harald and Queen Sonja had many similarities with the coronation of kings and queens in earlier times. An important difference was that the wording of the prayer was different. At the coronation in 1906, the king’s grandfather, King Haakon, became a “king by the grace of God” and not a “king of the will of the people.”

The politicians in parliament actually abolished royal coronation with a constitutional amendment in 1908. Still, the Church and the royal house created a new tradition 50 years later, which abolished much of the effect of the constitutional amendment. 

King Olav was consecrated in 1958 at his own request and without any special legal basis in Norwegian law. The close connection between the Church and the royal house was restored.

Official reception

At the coronation in 1906, Prime Minister Christian Michelsen had an important place in the ceremony in Nidaros Cathedral. Together with Bishop Vilhelm Wexelsen, he put the royal crown on King Haakon’s head and the queen’s crown on Queen Maud’s head.

Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland had no such duties during the coronation of King Harald and Queen Sonja in 1991. In Nidaros Cathedral, she was a spectator, in the same way as Prime Minister Einar Gerhardsen was in 1958.

But Gro Harlem Brundtland’s government reportedly hosted a reception for the royal couple and over 700 guests. Einar Gerhardsen saw the consecration as a purely ecclesiastical event, so his government held no reception for the king.

During the consecration of King Harald and Queen Sonja in 1991, the king and queen’s crowns were in the church, but they each stood on their own pillar by the high altar and were not put on their heads.

Special trip

After the ceremony, the royal couple went on a ten-day tour of Southern Norway to greet the Norwegian people. The journey back to Oslo went along the coast with the royal ship Norway.

The following year, the royal couple also went on a 22-day journey in the northernmost counties. 

The custom of going on a tour of the country in connection with the ceremony goes back to the kings of the Middle Ages, who allowed themselves to be praised for various things around the country.

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayTravel

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