Harald V (born February 21, 1937) is the King of Norway.Harald was the third child and only son of King Olav V and Princess Märtha of Sweden. He was second in the line of succession at the time of his birth, behind his father. His paternal grandparents were King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway; his maternal grandparents Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg of Sweden; King Leopold III of Belgium; Queen Mary and King George VI of the United Kingdom; and Crown Princess Ingrid of Denmark. His parents already had two daughters, Princess Ragnhild and Princess Astrid. The King is a second cousin of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom as they are both great-grandchildren of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom.
At the time of Harald’s birth, he was 2nd in line of succession to the Norwegian throne following his father, Crown Prince Olav; and also was 16th in line of succession to the British throne as a descendant of Queen Victoria through his paternal grandmother, Queen Maud.In 1940, as a result of the German occupation during World War II, the royal family went into exile. Harald spent part of his childhood in Sweden and the United States.
He returned to Norway in 1945, and subsequently studied for periods at the University of Oslo, the Norwegian Military Academy and Balliol College, Oxford.Following the death of his grandfather Haakon VII in 1957, Harald became crown prince as his father became king. A keen sportsman, he represented Norway in sailing at the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympic Games, and later became patron of World Sailing.
Harald married a commoner, Sonja Haraldsen, at Oslo Domkirke in Oslo on August 29, 1968. The pair had dated for nine years, but Olav was reluctant to allow his son to marry a commoner. Olav only relented when Harald told his father that if he was not allowed to marry Sonja he would not marry at all. This would have ended the reign of his family and the Norwegian monarchy, as Harald was the sole heir to the throneThe couple had two children, Märtha Louise and Haakon.
Harald became King of Norway upon the death of his father, King Olav V, on January 17, 1991. 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.
While the Constitution vests the King with executive power, he is not politically responsible for exercising it. This is in accordance not only with provisions of the Constitution, but with conventions established since the definitive establishment of parliamentary rule in Norway in 1884. His acts are not valid without the countersignature of a member of the Council of State (cabinet)–usually the Prime Minister–and proceedings of the Council of State are signed by all of its members.
Although he nominally has the power of veto, no Norwegian king has exercised it since the dissolution of the union with Sweden in 1905. Even then, the king’s veto power is suspensive, not absolute as is the case with British monarchs. A royal veto can be overridden if the Storting passes the same bill following a general election.
While the Constitution nominally vests the King with the power to appoint the government, in practice the government must maintain the confidence of Parliament. The King appoints the leader of the parliamentary bloc with the 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. Unlike some monarchs, Harald does not have the power to dissolve Parliament; the Constitution does not allow snap elections
.The King meets with the Council of State at the Royal Palace every Friday. He also has weekly meetings with the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He receives foreign envoys, and formally opens parliament every October delivering a speech from the throne during each opening. He travels extensively throughout Norway and makes official state visits to other countries, as well as receiving and hosting guests.The reign of King Harald has been marked by modernization and reform for the Norwegian Royal family.
The King has cooperated closely with Queen Sonja and the Crown Prince in making the royal household more open to the Norwegian public and the Norwegian media. King Harald’s decision to accept two more commoners into the royal family, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Ari Behn, has been interpreted as a sign of modernization and adjustment.