south portico


HAPPY 79TH BIRTHDAY KING HARALD V (b. 21 February 1937)

Every person has a great power in themselves - that can carry us through what we encounter in life. - King Harald V about standing together

Prince Harald was born on 21 February 1937 as the only son of the then-Crown Prince Olav and of Princess Märtha of Sweden in Skaugum and was baptized in the Royal Chapel in the Royal Palace in Oslo on 31 March 1937 by Bishop Johan Lunde. His godparents were: King Haakon VII of Norway, Queen Maud of Norway, Prince Carl of Sweden, Princess Ingeborg of Sweden, King Leopold III of Belgium; King George VI and Queen Mary of the United Kingdom and Crown Princess Ingrid of Denmark. His parents already had two daughters, Princess Ragnhild and Princess Astrid.

During World War II he fled with sisters and mother from Norway 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. In 2015, he became the world’s first reigning monarch to visit Antarctica, specifically the Norwegian dependency Queen Maud Land.

In March 1968 it was announced the engagemement between the Crown Prince and Miss Sonja Haraldsen. The couple had known each other for nine years before their marriage was approved. The wedding was held in Oslo Cathedral on 29 August 1968. They have two children, Princess Märtha Louise (b. 22 September 1971) and Crown Prince Haakon b. 20 July 1973) and through them 6 grandchildren.

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.

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.

I live by the principle that as long as not proven otherwise, I’m healthy and will live life that way.” - King Harald when asked about if he was not afraid of relapse of cancer.

Following a lengthy period of ill-health, his mother Crown Princess Märtha died of cancer in Oslo in 1954. Her death came little more than three years before her husband ascended the throne as king. His father, King Olav V, died on 17 January 1991 and Harald V succeeded him as the King of Norway.