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Olav V (July 2, 1903 – January 17, 1991) was the King of Norway from 1957 until his death in 1991.

Olav V was born Prince Alexander Edward Christian Frederik of Denmark in Appleton House on the Royal Sandringham Estate, Flitcham, United Kingdom. His parents were Prince Carl of Denmark, second son of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark (later King Frederik VIII), and Princess Maud of Wales, youngest daughter of King Edward VII of the United Kingdom and Alexandra of Denmark. Edward VII was the eldest son of Britain’s Queen Victoria.

Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Alexandra of Denmark were siblings making Olav’s parents first cousins.

When Olav’s father was elected King of Norway, he took the name Haakon VII, and on the day he was inaugurated, he gave his son the Norwegian name Olav after King Olaf II Haakonsson of Norway who reigned from 1015 to 1028. Olaf II died July 30, 1030.

Olav was the first heir to the Norwegian throne to be brought up in Norway since Olav IV in the fourteenth century, and his parents made sure he was given as much of a Norwegian upbringing as possible.

In preparation for his future role, he attended both civilian and military schools.

In 1929, he married his first cousin Princess Märtha of Sweden. During World War II his leadership was much appreciated and he was appointed Norwegian Chief of Defence in 1944. At his death in 1991, he was the last surviving grandchild of Edward VII of the United Kingdom and Alexandra of Denmark.

On March 21, 1929 in Oslo, he married his first cousin Princess Märtha of Sweden, the second child of Prince Carl of Sweden, Duke of Västergötland, and his wife Princess Ingeborg of Denmark. Her father was the younger brother of King Gustav V of Sweden, making her a first cousin twice removed of the present King of Sweden, and her mother was the younger sister of King Christian X of Denmark and of King Haakon VII of Norway. with whom he had two daughters, Ragnhild and Astrid and one son, Harald (future King Harald V of Norway)

As exiles during World War II, Crown Princess Märtha and the royal children lived in Washington, D.C., where she struck up a close friendship with Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Following a lengthy period of ill-health, Märtha died of cancer at The National Hospital in Oslo in 5 April 1954.[citation needed] At the time of her death, her elder daughter Ragnhild was expecting her first child. Her death came little more than three years before her husband ascended the throne as king. Her death was a tremendous loss for the future king Olav and the children as well as for Norway.

King Haakon VII was injured in an accident in 1955; his son Olav served as regent until his death. Haakon died at the Royal Palace in Oslo on September 21, 1957. He was 85 years old. After his death, Olav succeeded him as Olav V.

Olav reigned as a “People’s King,” and became extremely popular. He liked to drive his own cars, and would drive in the public lanes, even though as a monarch he was allowed to drive in bus lanes. When driving was restricted during the 1973 energy crisis, King Olav – who could have driven legally – wanted to lead by example; while preparing for a skiing trip, he dressed up in his skiing outfit and boarded the Holmenkollbanen suburban railway carrying his skis on his shoulder. When later asked how he dared to go out in public without bodyguards, he replied that “he had 4 million bodyguards” – the population of Norway was at the time 4 million.

Although the constitution nominally vested Olav with executive power, he was not responsible for exercising it. One source states that his “duties were largely ceremonial”. His acts were not valid without the countersignature of a minister–usually the Prime Minister–who then became politically responsible for the act in question.

As King, Olav V, he had the right to appoint the government, but in practice it was not possible for him to keep a government in office against the will of the Storting. Thus, in practice, his role was mostly representative in nature. Nonetheless, like his father before him, he commanded great moral authority as a symbol of the nation’s unity.

Owing to his considerate, down-to-earth style, King Olav was immensely popular, resulting in the nickname Folkekongen (“The People’s King”). In a 2005 poll by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, Olav was voted “Norwegian of the Century”.

During the summer of 1990, the King suffered from health problems, but recovered somewhat during Christmas the same year. At the age of 87, on 17 January 1991, while residing in the Royal Lodge Kongsseteren in Oslo, he became ill and died in the evening of a myocardial infarction.

An interview given by King Harald V and hints in a biography by Jo Benkow, who was the President of the Storting at that time, mention the possibility that King Olav suffered great trauma upon learning of the outbreak of the first Gulf War, which began the day of his death. Olav’s son Harald V succeeded him as King.

The Ordinal Number of King Olav V

Most early kings of Norway are known more by their sobriquet than their ordinals. During the history of Norway the problem with numbering the kings is that there were times when brothers ruled jointly or there were rival kings. All in all the numbering has been consistent with all the names except for the name Olav.

The one in question is Olav Magnusson who was King of Norway from 1103 to 1115 and was the son of King Magnus III Barefoot and Sigrid, daughter of Sakse of Vik.

Olav Magnusson was a co-king together with his half-brothers Sigurd Jorsalfar and Øystein Magnusson after his father Magnus III died in 1103. He was king of Norway for twelve years, but did not, like his brothers, leave a lasting impression.

Olav Magnusson died at the age of 17 and and never ruled his share of the kingdom on his own while his brothers acted as his regent on his behalf. Historians at first judged him as to be insignificant and when numbering the kings of Norway they left Olav Magnusson out from the official numbering.

Olav Magnusson should have been counted as Olav IV of Norway but that ordinal was assigned to King Olaf Haakonsson (1380-1387).

In the middle ages Norway and Denmark, along with Sweden formed the Union of Kalmar in 1397 uniting all three Scandinavian states under one Monarch. Sweden broke away from this union in 1523 and the union between Norway and Denmark lasted until 1814.

However in 1814 Norway was not able to gain its independence and fell under the control of Sweden. It wasn’t until 1905 when Norway became an independent state.

Norway chose a monarchical form of government and elected the second son of King Christian IX of Denmark, Prince Carl of Denmark as their king. Prince Carl chose the Norwegian name of Haakon and became King Haakon VII and he ruled until 1957.

His son, Olav V of Norway 1957-1991, reigned using the ordinal “V” but would have been Olav VI, had the co-king Olaf Magnusson been numbered and not ignored by historians.