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Harald V

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Harald V

Harald V of Norway

Harald V
H.M. Kong Harald taler (10308347696)- edit.jpg

King Harald V in 2013
King of Norway
Reign 17 January 1991 – present
Benediction 23 June 1991
Predecessor Olav V
Heir apparent Crown Prince Haakon
Prime Ministers
Born (1937-02-21) 21 February 1937 
Skaugum, Akershus, Norway
Spouse Sonja Haraldsen (m. 1968)
Princess Märtha Louise
Crown Prince Haakon
House Glücksburg[2]
Father Olav V of Norway
Mother Princess Märtha of Sweden
Signature Harald V's signature

His Majesty King Harald

His Majesty King Harald V of Norway was born on 21 February 1937 at his parents’ home, the country estate of Skaugum, near Oslo. The only son of Crown Prince Olav (the future King Olav V, 1903-1991) and Crown Princess Märtha (1901-1954), he acceded to the Throne when his father passed away on 17 January 1991

Prince Harald was the first prince born in Norway in 567 years. Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha also had two daughters, Princess Ragnhild and Princess Astrid, both born before the Prince. At the time, the Norwegian Constitution of 1814 stipulated that only male heirs could inherit the Throne. Thus, the birth of Prince Harald guaranteed the line of succession. The Constitution was amended in 1990, and it is now the oldest child, regardless of gender, who accedes to the Throne. In connection with the entry into force of the new amendment, a decision was taken to apply the previous rule to all children born prior to 1990.

Early life

The first three years of Prince Harald’s life were spent in the peaceful surroundings of Skaugum. However, this came to an abrupt end on 9 April 1940, when German troops invaded Norway. To avoid being taken into custody by the occupying forces, the Royal Family, the Government and most members of the Norwegian Storting escaped from Oslo by train.

When they reached Elverum, Crown Prince Olav and his family parted company. Crown Princess Märtha and the three children, Princess Ragnhild, Princess Astrid and Prince Harald, fled to safety across the border to Sweden. After several months in Sweden, the Crown Princess and her children travelled to the USA by sea. While King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav stayed in London, the Crown Princess lived with the children in the outskirts of Washington, DC, until 1945, when peace was declared.

Crown Prince Olav returned to Norway on 13 May 1945, where he was joined by King Haakon and the other members of the Royal Family on 7 June. The homecoming of the Royal Family was celebrated by thousands of cheering spectators who lined the streets to welcome them back after five years of occupation.


After the liberation, Prince Harald attended Smestad school in Oslo. Aside from the presence of a security guard stationed in the hall, the Prince’s school years differed little from those of the other children. To enable the Prince to comply with the demands of a modern monarchy, his upbringing emphasised the importance of close ties to the Norwegian people and contemporary society. Prince Harald completed his upper secondary education at Oslo Cathedral School, receiving his school-leaving certificate in 1955. 

Prince Harald entered the Norwegian Cavalry Officers’ Training School and went on to finish his military education at the Military Academy in 1959. Upon completion of his compulsory military service, the Crown Prince went to Oxford for further study. He attended Balliol College from 1960 to 1962, studying social science, history and economics.



In March 1968 it was announced that King Olav had given permission for the Crown Prince to marry Miss Sonja Haraldsen from Vinderen in Oslo. The couple had known each other for nine years before their marriage was approved.

The decision to be taken by the King was not only a family matter, but also an affair of state that could have implications for the future of the monarchy. After consultations with the Presidium of the Storting, the parliamentary leaders and the Government, the King gave his consent for the Crown Prince to marry a commoner. The wedding was held in Oslo Cathedral on 29 August 1968. The newlywed Crown Prince and Crown Princess were received with great jubilation by people throughout the country. The Crown Princess assumed her share of the official duties.

King Harald and Queen Sonja have travelled extensively in Norway and abroad, both together and separately. They have two children, Princess Märtha Louise, born on 22 September 1971, and Crown Prince Haakon, born on 20 July 1973.

Consecration ceremony

When King Olav fell ill in the spring of 1990, the King’s functions as Head of State were filled by the Crown Prince Regent. In accordance with the Constitution, Crown Prince Harald acceded to the Throne when King Olav passed away on 17 January 1991. Like his father and grandfather before him, King Harald adopted the motto “We give our all for Norway.” Four days later, King Harald swore an oath to uphold the Constitution in the Storting. The ceremony was also attended by Queen Sonja, marking the first time in 69 years that a Norwegian queen had been present in the main chamber of the Storting.

In accordance with their own wishes, the King and Queen were consecrated in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on 23 June 1991. The consecration of Norwegian kings dates back more than 1,000 years in Norway, and was previously carried out during the coronation of a new monarch. In 1908 the Storting repealed the article in the Constitution relating to coronation. King Olav, who was keenly interested in maintaining traditions, expressed a desire to take part in a consecration ceremony in Nidaros Cathedral, and thus to receive God’s blessing for the performance of his royal duties. King Harald and Queen Sonja wished to continue this tradition and chose to hold a consecration ceremony in the same cathedral. Bishop Finn Wagle presided over the ceremony.

In connection with the consecration, the King and Queen conducted a 10-day tour of Southern Norway. The following year, the entire Royal Family conducted a 22-day tour of Norway’s four northernmost counties.

Official duties as King

Since the introduction of parliamentarism in 1884, the official duties of the King have been primarily ceremonial as the custodian of royal tradition. The King heads the Council of State Fridays, and formally opens the new session of the Storting each year in October. No acts of legislation or decisions approved by the Council of State are valid until sanctioned by the King and countersigned by the prime minister. While the language of the Constitution still states that the executive power is vested in the King, the actual power lies with the Government.

The King has an important role to play during a change of government. Usually, the retiring prime minister will advise the King on who should assume the role of the new prime minister. 

The King and Queen pay official state visits to other countries, and act as host to foreign heads of state visiting Norway. The King holds official audiences at the Palace for newly-appointed ambassadors of foreign countries who are delivering their credentials.

King Harald holds the rank of General in the Army and Air Force, and of Admiral in the Navy. He is the nation’s highest-ranking officer.

The day-to-day activities conducted at the Royal Palace in Oslo include official audiences, and discussions with the prime minister, foreign minister and representatives from the armed forces. The King frequently pays visits to private and public institutions on his journeys to various parts of the country.

Every year the King and Queen usually pay a visit to a county in Norway. Their stay lasts 2-3 days, during which time they pay visits to several municipalities. The King and Queen often use the Royal Yacht Norge to travel along the Norwegian coast.

The King receives many invitations to events and commemorative activities all over the country, and tries, as far as his programme will allow, to be present.

In recent years the King has also become involved in issues related to welfare and conditions for children. He regularly receives letters from children whose everyday lives are difficult, and has on occasion received children and groups of children for talks at the Palace.

Leisure interests

The Royal Family takes great pleasure in sports and outdoor recreational activities. King Harald enjoys spending time in the wilderness, and is an active hunter and fisherman. The King is deeply concerned with environmental issues, and served for 20 years as the President of the Norwegian chapter of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF Norge).

The King and the Royal Family have attended the Olympics on many occasions. The King and Queen were actively involved in connection with the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer. The King served as honorary chair of the Lillehammer Olympic Organising Committee.

The King was Chairman of the Advisory Board of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 1982. During the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Oslo in 2011 he was present as an interested spectator at all the events. In January 2011 the King was awarded the Sports Gala Honorary Award by the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports at the annual Sports Gala in Hamar, and in 2017 the Norwegian Skiing Association awarded him the King Olav Trophy for his contributions towards promoting skiing at the international level.

The King has distinguished himself on several occasions in national and international sailing competitions. In 1964 he carried the Norwegian flag during the opening ceremony for the Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo. In 1987 King Harald and his crew won the World Championships with his one-tonne yacht, the Fram X, and in 2005 they won the European Championships with the Fram XV. The King remains an avid yachtsman, participating in national and international regattas each year. 

Second World War

Prince Harald as a child

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. 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.

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. 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.

Harald and his mother and sisters lived in Washington D.C. during the war, 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. 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. In 1955 he graduated from Oslo katedralskole and in the autumn of that year, Harald began studies at the University of Oslo. Later he attended the Cavalry Officers’ Candidate School at Trandum, followed by enrolment at the Norwegian Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1959.

In 1960, Harald entered Balliol College, Oxford where he studied history, economics and politics.[6] 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.


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

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

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.

Harald married a commoner, Sonja Haraldsen, at Oslo Domkirke in Oslo on 29 August 1968, a marriage that sparked much public controversy at the time. The couple have two children, Princess Märtha Louise and Crown Prince Haakon, heir apparent to the Norwegian throne.

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.

The King heads the Council of State at Oslo Palace every Friday. He also has weekly meetings with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. 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, so 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. He travels extensively throughout Norway and makes official state visits to other countries.

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.

An avid sailor, Harald represented Norway in the yachting events of Olympic Games in Tokyo in 1964 and in Mexico City in 1968 and the Munich 1972. The Crown Prince carried the Norwegian flag at the opening parade of the 1964 Summer Olympics. 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.

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.

In 2015, he became the world’s first reigning monarch to visit Antarctica, specifically the Norwegian dependency Queen Maud Land.

In 2016, King Harald V competed with a team for the sailing World Championships on Lake Ontario, Toronto. The king came second in the classic fleet category. He was dubbed “Sailor-King” by the Canadian National post as he slept onboard of his yacht “Sira”.

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

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. He is also an honorary Colonel in the British Royal Marines. He is patron of the Anglo-Norse Society in London, together with Queen Elizabeth II, his second cousin. As he is a direct descendant of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, Harald is the 73rd in the line of succession to the British throne. He is the first foreign monarch in the British line of succession. 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

  •  Iceland – Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the Falcon °
  •  Sweden – Knight with Collar of the Order of the Seraphim °
  •  Sweden – Gustaf Vs 90th Anniversary Medal °
  •  Sweden – HM King Carl XVI Gustaf 50th Anniversary Medal
  •  Denmark – Knight with Collar of the Order of the Elephant °
  •  Denmark – Grand Commander of the Order of the Dannebrog °
  •  Finland – Commander Grand Cross of the Order of the White Rose of Finland ° 
  •  Estonia – Collar of the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana °
  •  Latvia – Commander Grand Cross with Chain of the Order of the Three Stars °
  •  Lithuania – Grand Cross (1998) with Golden Chain (2011) of the Order of Vytautas the Great °
  •  United Kingdom – Recipient of the Royal Victorian Chain (1994) °
  •  United Kingdom – Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (1955) °
  •  United Kingdom – Stranger Knight of the Order of the Garter (990th member; 2001) °
  •  United Kingdom – Honorary Freedom of Newcastle upon Tyne

Other countries

  •  Austria – Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria (1964) ° 
  •  Belgium – Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold ° 
  •  Brazil – Grand Collar of the Order of the Southern Cross °
  •  Bulgaria – Cordon of the Order of Stara Planina °
  •  Croatia – Grand Order of King Tomislav°
  •  France – Grand Cross of the Légion d’honneur °
  •  Germany – Grand Cross 1st class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany °
  •  Greece – Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer °
  •  Greece – The Royal House of Greece Centenary Medal °
  •  Hungary – Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary °
  • Olympic flag.svg IOC – The Golden Olympic order °
  •  Italy – Knight Grand Cross (06/1965) with Collar (10/2001) of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic °[25]
  •  Japan – Grand Cordon with Collar of the Order of the Chrysanthemum °
  •  Jordan – Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of al-Hussein bin Ali °
  •  Yugoslavia – Order of the Yugoslav Great Star °
  •  Luxembourg – Grand Cross of the Order of Adolph of Nassau °
  •  Luxembourg – Knight of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau°
  •  Luxembourg – Medal to commemorate the wedding of Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte °
  •  Netherlands – Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion °
  •  Netherlands – Grand Cross of the Order of the Crown °
  •  Netherlands – Commander of the Order of the Golden Ark °
  •  Netherlands – Medal to commemorate the enthronement of Queen Beatrix °
  •  Poland – Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the White Eagle °
  •  Portugal – Grand Cross of the Military Order of Aviz (05/11/1980) ° 
  •  Portugal – Grand Collar of the Order of Infante Dom Henrique (13 February 2004) ° 
  •  Portugal – Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of St. James of the Sword (26 May 2008) °
  •  Romania – Sash Rank of the Order of the Star of Romania °
  •  Slovakia : Grand Cross (or 1st Class) of the Order of the White Double Cross (2010) °
  •  Spain – 1,192nd Knight and Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece (21 April 1995) ° 
  •  Spain – Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Charles III (12/04/1982) ° 
  •  Spain – Collar of the Order of Charles III (30 June 2006) ° 
  •  South Africa – Grand Cross of the Order of Good Hope °
  •  Thailand – Knight Grand Cordon (First Class) of the Order of Chula Chom Klao °
  •  Turkey – First Class of the Order of the State of Republic of Turkey ° 

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). The King also received honorary doctorates from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland in 1994, 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 
  • In 2013, a 6,500 km² area in Svalbard was named Harald V Land.


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

From Wikipedia


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