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Haakon VII (Prince Carl of Denmark and Iceland, born Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel) (3 August 1872 at Charlottenlund Palacemarker 21 September 1957 in Oslomarker), known as Prince Carl of Denmark until 1905, was the first king of Norwaymarker after the 1905 dissolution of the personal union with Swedenmarker. He was a member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Gl√ľcksburg. As one of the few elected monarchs, Haakon quickly won the respect and affection of his people and played a pivotal role in uniting the Norwegian nation in its resistance to the attack and five-year-long Nazi occupation during World War II.

Haakon is regarded as one of the greatest Norwegians of the twentieth century and is particularly revered for his courage during the German invasion and his leadership and preservation of Norwegian unity during the Nazi occupation. He died at the age of 85 in 1957, after having reigned for nearly 52 years.

Early years as a Danish prince

Originally known as Prince Carl of Denmark (namesake of his maternal grandfather the King of Norway etc), he was the second son of (the future) King Frederick VIII of Denmarkmarker and his wife Lovisa, a younger brother of Christian X, a paternal grandson of King Christian IX of Denmark (during whose reign he was prince of Denmark), and a maternal grandson of King Charles XV of Sweden (who was also king of Norway as Charles IV). He personally became king of Norway before his father and older brother became kings of Denmark. During his reign, he saw his father, his brother and his nephew, Frederick IX, ascend the throne of Denmark, respectively in 1906, 1912 and 1947.

Prince Carl was born at Charlottenlund Palacemarker near Copenhagenmarker. He belonged to the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Gl√ľcksburg branch of the House of Oldenburg. The House of Oldenburg had been the Danish royal family since 1448, and between 1536-1814, also ruled Norway when it was part of the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway. The house was originally from northern Germany, where also the Glucksburg (Lyksborg) branch held their small fief. The family had permanent links with Norway already beginning from late Middle Ages, and also several of his paternal ancestors had been kings of independent Norway (Haakon V of Norway, Christian I of Norway, Frederick I, Christian III, Frederick II, Christian IV, as well as Frederick III of Norway who integrated Norway into the Oldenburg state with Denmark, Slesvig and Holstein, after which it was not independent until 1814). Christian Frederick, who was King of Norway briefly in 1814, the first king of the Norwegian 1814 constitution and struggle for independence, was his great-granduncle.

Prince Carl was raised in the royal household in Copenhagen and educated at Royal Danish Naval Academymarker from which he graduated near the bottom of his class. He was a key witness in the scandal following the suicide of Kai Simonsen.

At Buckingham Palacemarker on 22 July 1896, Prince Carl married his first cousin Princess Maud of Wales, youngest daughter of the future King Edward VII of the United Kingdommarker and his wife, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, daughter of King Christian IX of Denmark and Princess Louise of Hesse-Kassel (or Hesse-Cassel). Their son, Prince Alexander, the future Crown Prince Olav (and eventually king Olav V of Norway), was born on 2 July 1903.

Accession to the Norwegian throne

The coronation of Haakon VII and Queen Maud on 22 June 1906


After the Union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved in 1905, a committee of the Norwegian government identified several members of European royalty as candidates for Norway's first King of its own in several centuries. Gradually, Prince Carl became the leading candidate, largely because of the fact that he was descended from independent Norwegian kings. He also had a son (and hence an heir to the throne), and Princess Maud's ties to the British Royal Family were viewed as advantageous to the newly independent Norwegian nation.

The democratically minded Carl, aware that Norway was still debating whether to retain its monarchy or to switch to a republican system of government, was flattered by the Norwegian government's overtures, but declined to accept the offer without a referendum to show whether monarchy was truly the choice of the Norwegian People.

After the referendum overwhelmingly confirmed by 79 percent majority (259,563 votes for and 69,264 against) that Norwegians desired to retain a monarchy, Prince Carl was formally offered the throne of Norway by the Stortingmarker (parliament) and elected on 18 November 1905. When Carl accepted the offer that same evening (after the approval of his grandfather Christian IX of Denmark), he immediately endeared himself to his adopted country by taking the Old Norse name of Haakon, a name used by previous Kings of Norway. In so doing, he succeeded his grand-uncle, Oscar II of Sweden, who had abdicated the Norwegian throne in October following the agreement between Sweden and Norway on the terms of the separation of the union.

The new Royal Family of Norway left Denmark on the Danish Royal yacht "Dannebrog" and went sailing up Oslofjord. At Oscarsborg Fortressmarker they entered the Norwegian naval ship "Heimdal". After the three-day journey they arrived in Kristianiamarker (Oslomarker) early on the morning of 25 November 1905. Two days later, Haakon was taken in oath as the Norwegian King.

The coronation of Haakon and Maud took place in Nidaros Cathedralmarker in Trondheimmarker on 22 June 1906.

King Haakon gained much sympathy from the Norwegian people. He traveled around and visited many places. He participated in the political process after the first prime minister from the labour party was chosen in 1928, a process that caused a special parliamentary situation.

Resistance during World War II

Norway was invaded by the naval and air forces of Nazi Germany during the early hours of 9 April 1940. The German naval detachment sent to capture Oslomarker was challenged at Oscarsborg Fortress. The fortress fired at the invaders, causing damage to the pocket battleship L√ľtzow and the sinking of the heavy cruiser Bl√ľchermarker, with heavy German losses that included many of the armed forces, Gestapo agents, and administrative personnel who were to have occupied the Norwegian capital. These events led to the withdrawal of the rest of the German flotilla, preventing the invaders from occupying Oslo at dawn as had been intended in the order of battle. The German occupation forces' delay, in arrival in Oslo, along with swift action from the President of the Storting C. J Hambro in turn, created the opportunity for the Norwegian Royal Family, the Cabinet, and most of the 150 members of the Storting (parliament) to make a hasty departure from the capital by special train.
King Haakon VII early on during his reign.
The Storting first convened at Hamarmarker the same afternoon, but with the rapid advance of German troops, the group moved on to Elverummarker. The assembled Parliament unanimously enacted a resolution, the so-called Elverumsfullmakten (Elverum Authorization), granting the Cabinet full powers to protect the country until such time as the Storting could meet again.

The next day, German Minister Curt Bräuer demanded a meeting with Haakon. The German diplomat called on the Norwegians to cease their resistance and stated Hitler's demand that the King appoint Nazi sympathizer Vidkun Quisling as Prime Minister of what would be a German puppet government. Bräuer suggested that Haakon follow the example of the Danish Government and his brother, Christian X, which had surrendered almost immediately after the previous day's invasion, and threatened Norway with harsh conditions if it didn't surrender. Haakon told Bräuer that he could not make such a decision himself, but only on the advice of the Government. Although the Constitution of Norway nominally gives the King the final responsibility for making such a decision, it is a well-established convention that the King does not make any major political decisions on his own initiative.

In an emotional meeting with the Cabinet in Nybergsundmarker, the King reported the German ultimatum to his cabinet. Although he could not make the decision himself, he knew he could use his moral authority to influence it. Accordingly, Haakon told the Cabinet:

Haakon went on to say that he could not appoint any Government headed by Quisling because he knew neither the people nor the Storting had confidence in him. However, if the Cabinet felt otherwise, the King said he would abdicate so as not to stand in the way of the Government's decision.

Nils Hjelmtveit, Minister of Church and Education, later wrote: "This made a great impression on us all. More clearly than ever before we could see the man behind the words; the king who had drawn a line for himself and his task, a line from which he could not deviate. We had through the five years [in government] learned to respect and appreciate our king and now, through his words, he came to us as a great man, just and forceful; a leader in these fatal times to our country".

Inspired by Haakon's stand, the Government announced its refusal to accept the German terms to the German Emissary by telephone. In a radio broadcast that evening, the Government and King's refusal to the German ultimatum were announced to the Norwegian people. The Government indicated that they would resist the German attack as long as possible, and expressed their confidence that Norwegians would lend their support to the cause.

King Haakon and crown prince Olav seeking refuge under a birch tree during a German bombing attack against Molde in April 1940
The following morning, 11 April 1940, bomber aircraft of the Luftwaffe attacked Nybergsund, destroying the small town where the Norwegian government was staying in an attempt to wipe out Norway's unyielding King and Government. The King and his ministers took refuge in the snow-covered woods and escaped harm, continuing farther north through the rugged Norwegian mountains toward Moldemarker on Norway's northwestern coast. As the British forces in the area lost ground under Luftwaffe bombardment, the King and his party were taken aboard the British cruiser HMS Glasgow at Molde and conveyed by sea to Troms√łmarker where a provisional capital was established on 1 May. Haakon and Crown Prince Olav took up residence in a forest cabin in M√•lselvdalen valley in inner Troms county where they would stay until the evacuation to the United Kingdommarker. While residing in Troms the two were protected by local rifle association members armed with the ubiquitous Krag-J√łrgensen rifle.

The Allies had a fairly secure hold over northern Norway until late May, but as the Allies' position in the Battle of France rapidly deteriorated, the Allied forces in northern Norway were badly needed elsewhere and were withdrawn. The Royal Family and the beleaguered and demoralized Norwegian Government was evacuated from Troms√ł on 7 June aboard HMS Devonshire; and after a dash, under cover of HMS Glorious, HMS Acasta, and HMS Ardent, safely arrived in Londonmarker. Haakon and his cabinet set up a Norwegian government in exile in the British capital. Taking up residence at Rotherhithemarker in Londonmarker, Haakon was an important national symbol in the Norwegian resistance. Between March 1942 and the end of the war in June 1945 the King and his son, Crown Prince Olav, lived at Foliejon Park in Winkfieldmarker, near Windsormarker.

Meanwhile, Hitler had appointed Josef Terboven as Reichskommissar for Norway. On Hitler's orders, Terboven attempted to coerce the Storting to depose the King; Parliament declined, citing constitutional principles. A subsequent ultimatum was made by the Germans under threat of interning all Norwegians of military age in German concentration camps. With this threat looming, the Norwegian Parliament's representatives in Oslo wrote to their monarch on 27 June, asking him to abdicate. The King, politely replying that the Storting had acted under duress, declined the request. After one further German attempt in September to force the Storting to depose Haakon failed, Terboven finally decreed that the Royal Family had "forfeited their right to return" and dissolved the democratic political parties.

During Norway's five years under German control, many Norwegians surreptitiously wore clothing or jewelry made from coins bearing Haakon's "H7" monogram as symbols of resistance to the German occupation and of solidarity with their exiled king and government, just as many people in Denmarkmarker wore his brother's monogram on a pin. The King's monogram was also painted and otherwise reproduced on various surfaces as a show of resistance to the occupation.

After the end of the war, Haakon and the Norwegian Royal Family returned to Norway aboard the cruiser HMS Norfolk, arriving with the First Cruiser Squadron to cheering crowds in Oslo on 7 June 1945 exactly five years after they had been evacuated from Troms√ł.

Post-war years

King Haakon VII fell in his bathroom at the estate at Bygd√łymarker in July 1955. This fall, which occurred just a month before his eighty-third birthday, broke the King's thighbone and, although there were few other complications resulting from the fall, the King was left confined to a wheelchair. The once-active king was said to have been depressed by his resulting helplessness and began to lose his customary involvement and interest in current events. With Haakon's loss of mobility and, as the King's health deteriorated further in the summer of 1957, Crown Prince Olav appeared on behalf of his father on ceremonial occasions and taking a more active role in state affairs. At Haakon's death in 1957, the Crown Prince succeeded as Olav V.

Today, King Haakon is regarded by many as one of the greatest Norwegian leaders of the pre-war period, managing to hold his young and fragile country together in unstable political conditions. In 1927 he said, "I am also the King of the Communists" ( ). His loyalty to democracy proved to be crucial for the political situation of Norwaymarker during and after World War II.

Ancestry




Honours

The entire plateau surrounding the South Polemarker was named King Haakon VII Vidde in the king's honour by Roald Amundsen when he in 1911 became the first human to reach the South Pole. See Polheim.

In 1914 Haakon Countymarker in South Dakotamarker was named in his honor.

Two Royal Norwegian Navy ships -- King Haakon VII, an escort ship in commission from 1942 to 1951, and Haakon VII, a training ship in commission from 1958 to 1974‚ÄĒhave been named for King Haakon VII.

For his struggles against the Nazi regime and his effort to revive the Holmenkollen ski festivalmarker following World War II, King Haakon VII earned the Holmenkollen medal in 1955 (Shared with Hallgeir Brenden, Veikko Hakulinen, and Sverre Stenersen), one of only eleven non-Nordic skiers to earn this honour. The others are Norway's Stein Eriksen, Borghild Niskin, Inger Bj√łrnbakken, Astrid Sandvik, King Olav V (his son), Erik H√•ker, Jacob Vaage, King Harald V (his paternal grandson), and Queen Sonja (his paternal granddaughter-in-law), and Swedenmarker's Ingemar Stenmark.

Other honours:

Titles from birth to death

Styles King Haakon bore from birth to death, in chronological order:

  • His Royal Highness Prince Carl of Denmark
  • His Majesty The King of Norway


Notes

  1. Geirr H. Haarr, "The German Invasion of Norway", Seaforth Publishing, Barnsley, UK, 2009.
  2. H7, Time Magazine, Monday, Sep. 30, 1957
  3. This was said when Christian Hornsrud of the Labour Party was appointed to Prime Minister in 1928, http://www.kongehuset.no/c27060/artikkel/vis.html?tid=27613 (Official site of the Norwegian Royal House, in Norwegian)
  4. "Garter Knights Meet in Splendid Ceremony ... King Kaakon is Invested," New York Times. 25 November 1906.
  5. Royal House of Norway web page on King Haakon VII's decorations (Norwegian) Retrieved 5 October 2007


See also



References



External links




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