Birthday: August 3, 1872
Died At Age: 85
Sun Sign: Leo
Also Known As: Prince Carl of Denmark, Haakon, né Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel
Born Country: Denmark
Born in: Charlottenlund, Denmark
Famous as: King of Norway (1905-1957)
Emperors & Kings
Height: 1.9 m
Spouse/Ex-: Maud of Wales (m. 1896–1938)
father: Frederick VIII of Denmark
mother: Louise of Sweden
siblings: Christian X, Prince Gustav of Denmark, Prince Harald of Denmark, Princess Dagmar of Denmark, Princess Ingeborg, Princess Louise of Denmark, Princess Thyra
Died on: September 21, 1957
place of death: Oslo, Norway
Who was Haakon VII of Norway?
Haakon VII (birth name Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel or Prince Carl of Denmark) was a Norwegian king who reigned from November 1905 until his death in September 1957. He was the second oldest child of the future Frederick VIII of Denmark and Louise of Sweden and the younger brother of Christian X of Denmark. Prince Carl received his education at the Royal Danish Naval Academy and subsequently joined the Royal Danish Navy. Following the 1905 dissolution of the union between Sweden and Norway, Prince Carl was requested to become the king of Norway. After the November plebiscite, he agreed, and the Storting formally chose him as the king through an election. He adopted the old Norse name Haakon and was crowned as Haakon VII, which effectively made him the first independent Norwegian monarch since 1387. After Nazi Germany took control of Norway, Haakon refused to cooperate with them and went on an exile to Britain. Because of this, he became a leading figure in the resistance against the occupation. He came back to Norway after the German defeat in June 1945. Following Haakon’s death at the age of 85, his son, Olav V, became the king
Childhood & Early Life
Prince Carl was born on August 3, 1872, at Charlottenlund Palace near Copenhagen, to the future King Frederick VIII of Denmark and Louise of Sweden. He had one older sibling, Christian X of Denmark, and six younger siblings, Princess Louise, Prince Harald, Princess Ingeborg, Princess Thyra, Prince Gustav, and Princess Dagmar.
A member of the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg branch of the House of Oldenburg, Prince Carl was baptised on September 7, 1872, at Charlottenlund Palace.
He grew up in the royal household in Copenhagen and attended the Royal Danish Naval Academy from 1889 to 1893. He completed his training as a second lieutenant in the Royal Danish Navy. In 1894, he was made the first lieutenant. He continued to serve in the Royal Danish Navy until 1905.
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Marriage & Issue
Prince Carl exchanged wedding vows with Princess Maud of Wales, the youngest daughter of the future King Edward VII of the United Kingdom and Princess Alexandra of Denmark on July 22, 1896, in the Buckingham Palace. Haakon and Maud were first cousins.
On July 2, 1903, Maud gave birth to their only child, Prince Alexander, the future Crown Prince Olav.
Accession & Reign
In 1905, the union between Sweden and Norway ceased to exist. The Norwegian government subsequently set up a committee that chose several princes of European royal houses as prospects to be crowned as Norway's first king of its own since 1387.
As he had past Norwegian kings as ancestors, Prince Carl emerged as one of the likely prospects. His connection to the British throne through his wife and already having an heir were considered to be positive points in his favour.
Carl was an ardent believer in democracy. While he appreciated the Norwegian offer, before he accepted it, he stipulated that the Norwegian government must hold a referendum to demonstrate monarchy was indeed the choice of the Norwegian people over a republican system of government.
The referendum, held on 12 and 13 November 1905, proved beyond doubt that the Norwegians preferred monarchy after it received 79% of the votes. On November 18, 1905, the Storting formally asked him to become the king of Norway.
After agreeing to their proposal, Carl quickly earned the love of the Norwegian people after he adopted the old Norse name Haakon.
On 27 November 1905, Carl swore the oath of office as Haakon VII. He had the distinction of being the first independent king of Norway in 518 years. The coronation of him and his wife occurred in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on June 22, 1906.
Even in the initial years of his reign, the king was well-loved by his people. While the Constitution of Norway allocated significant power to the king, most of the administrative decisions were taken by the government.
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The king maintained a non-partisan policy and did not interfere in politics, something that his son and grandson emulated as well.
In 1927, the Labour Party, which was regarded as “revolutionary” by many, emerged as the largest party in parliament, and in the following year, the country’s first Labour Party government assumed control.
Haakon was counselled by the deputy prime minister at the time against accepting Christopher Hornsrud’s request to form a government. However, Haakon had no intention of foregoing parliamentary convention and appointed Hornsrud as prime minister. To answer his critics, he said, “I am also the king of the Communists".
World War II
In the early hours of April 9, 1940, the naval and air forces of Nazi Germany attacked Norway. However, the first wave was spurned when the Norwegian forces in the Oscarsborg Fortress managed to sink the heavy cruiser Blücher and damage the heavy cruiser Lützow.
This stopped the invading forces from taking over Oslo by dawn as they initially intended and gave the government enough time to relocate the royal family, the cabinet, and most of the 150 Storting members.
The Storting gathered later that afternoon, but because of the quickly advancing German forces, they relocated to Elverum, where the resolution, the Elverum Authorization, was passed.
Curt Bräuer, the German Minister to Norway, met Haakon and offered him Adolf Hitler’s terms, which required the end of all resistance and the appointment of Vidkun Quisling, the head of the fascist party of Norway, the Nasjonal Samling, as prime minister. Furthermore, Bräuer warned that Norway would suffer if he did not accept the terms.
In the following meeting with the cabinet, Haakon told them about the German ultimatum. With the unanimous backing of his cabinet, Haakon refused Hitler’s terms and eventually made his way to London, where the Norwegian government in exile was based.
In the ensuing five years, Haakon became a symbol of the Norwegian resistance against the Nazi occupation. Many Norwegians put on clothes or jewellery with coins bearing Haakon's "H7" monogram as a show of support to the exiled king and government.
The king’s monogram was recreated in different ways on various surfaces to demonstrate solidarity with the resistance.
After the German surrender, the royal family came back to Norway on June 7, 1945, aboard the cruiser HMS Norfolk, precisely five years after they were forced to leave the country from Tromsø. A cheering crowd received them in Oslo.
Later Years & Death
In 1947, the royal yacht Norge was bought by the Norwegian people through subscription for the king. Haakon had lost his wife in 1938 during her visit to England. In 1952, he was present at the funeral of his wife's nephew King George VI and was seen openly weeping.
In July 1955, during his stay at the Bygdøy Royal Estate (Bygdøy kongsgård), King Haakon VII had a fall in his bathroom and suffered a fractured thighbone. As a result, the king began using a wheelchair. This reportedly made the once jovial and active king extremely depressed.
Gradually, Prince Olav replaced his father as the representative of the royal family to attend various ceremonial occasions.
On September 21, 1957, Haakon passed away at the Royal Palace in Oslo. He is interred in the white sarcophagus in the Royal Mausoleum at Akershus Fortress along with his wife.
Haakon is widely considered as one of the greatest Norwegian leaders of the pre-war period, as he kept his young and fragile country together during one of the most turbulent times in European history.