King Harald admits to being a little embarrassed when the tears came during his July 22 speech

King HaraldPhoto: Terje Pedersen / NTB
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King Harald thinks it was a little embarrassing that he burst into tears when he spoke to grieving people, as the head of state himself “is supposed to be tough.”

It is in the book “Kongen Forteller,” (The King Tells) written by Harald Stanghelle, that King Harald describes his personal experience of, among other things, the terrorist attacks on July 22, 2011, and the time afterward. 

Through eleven conversations, the king has shared personal, though not private, reflections on a number of topics.

The king was the last speaker at the national memorial service at Oslo Spektrum on August 21 and described a very special atmosphere in the book, where mourners stood and cried everywhere.

“It was difficult to hold back the tears. And I did not manage that. I was not proud of it,” the king said.

He read the now iconic words from the speech: “As a father, grandfather, and spouse, I can only sense their pain. As the king of the country, I feel for each and every one of you.” Then his voice cracked.

“It was completely genuine. The feelings just came. The whole atmosphere in Oslo Spektrum made it so. Many thousands of people. And just grieving. But I was not proud to stand on the stage and shed tears. I was a little embarrassed. I am supposed to be tough,” said King Harald.

The key to his strength

Stanghelle told news bureau NTB that his royal book is not a biography, even though it depicts much of the king’s life and work. 

The goal has been to bring out attitudes and stories that characterize the country’s monarch and link these to the changes Norway has undergone in King Harald’s time.

“But you will never be able to write a book with King Harald without his personal story becoming part of it. It is the king’s story woven together with the history of society. We are talking about important topics that have characterized his time as the prince, crown prince, and king,” Stanghelle said.

He himself is still a republican in principle, but the process of talking and writing with the king has given him a new perspective.

“I have gained a deeper understanding of the king’s role in a polarized time, not least the king’s role exercised in the way that King Harald does it. He is a modest man in a king’s exalted position, which is one of the keys to understanding his enormously strong position among the Norwegian people,” Stanghelle noted.

Openness and vulnerability

The book has new elements that other royal books do not have, such as chapters on Ari Behn’s death and the corona situation in the past year.

Princess Märtha Louise’s ex-husband took his own life at home in Lommedalen on Christmas Day last year. 

He was to visit the family at Kongsseteren the same day. 

King Harald said that the family was gathered when they found out about the death.

“It was a shock. We were so surprised, even though we knew he was in trouble. It is painful, and it takes a long time to get over,” the king said.

The speech the eldest granddaughter Maud Angelica gave for her father at the funeral touched many.

“I was proud of her, ‘She did it,’ I thought. I could not have managed that,” said King Harald.

A few months later, the corona crisis hit Norway. 

King Harald addressed the people on Sunday, March 15, the first of Europe’s monarchs to address the crisis in the world. 

The royal family was also affected – like everyone else.

“We felt the longing to hug those we love. We were not allowed to either. I myself have been so isolated that I have not been afraid of being infected,” the king said but added that he is fully aware that he is definitely in the risk group.

Full confidence in the Crown Prince

In the last chapter, King Harald reflected on the monarchy’s future in Norway and said that he is not worried about it.

“The future of the monarchy has probably never been properly put on the political agenda in my time,” he pointed out.

He is also very happy with his son and heir, Crown Prince Haakon, whom he has full confidence in when he himself is out of action.

“There should be clear lines. During the periods when I have been ill, and the Crown Prince has been regent, I have completely opted out and stayed away. Otherwise, it would be too difficult for the poor regent,” he said and described the relationship with his son as closer and closer.

“It will be good with him when the time comes. It gives a good feeling to know that.”

The king is nevertheless adamant that abdication is out of the question.

“When you have taken an oath to the Storting (Norwegian parliament), it lasts a lifetime. It’s that easy for me. We are working to ‘the bitter end.'”

Scary time

Queen Sonja and Crown Prince Haakon have also contributed to the book, where the last conversation with the king took place on May 28.

In the last chapter, King Harald says that we are living in a scary time now when he looks at the development of society.

“I think it is more and more similar to the interwar period. I think of nationalism and its opposition. I’m worried about populism and division and the resurrection of the far right we see in some countries that may not remember what it was like once. 

“Many countries are not so concerned with finding international solutions, they cultivate themselves. It is unpleasantly reminiscent of the time between the First and Second World Wars.

“I do not like the development at all. But we will see how it goes,” he said.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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