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Haakon VII (August 3, 1872 – September 21, 1957) born Prince Carl of Denmark; he was the King of Norway from November 1905 until his death in September 1957.

Prince Carl was born on August 3, 1872 at his parents’ country residence, Charlottenlund Palace north of Copenhagen, during the reign of his paternal grandfather, King Christian IX.

He was the second son of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark (the future King Frederik VIII), and his wife Louise of Sweden. His father was the eldest son of King Christian IX and Louise of Hesse-Cassel, and his mother was the only daughter of King Carl XV of Sweden (who was also king of Norway as Carl IV), and Louise of the Netherlands.

At birth, he was third in the succession to the Danish throne after his father and older brother, but without any real prospect of inheriting the throne. The young prince was baptised at Charlottenlund Palace on September 7, 1872 by the Bishop of Zealand, Hans Lassen Martensen. He was baptised with the names Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel, and was known as Prince Carl (namesake of his maternal grandfather the King of Sweden-Norway).

HM King Haakon VII of Norway

Prince Carl belonged to the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (often shortened to Glücksburg) branch of the House of Oldenburg. The House of Oldenburg had been the Danish royal family since 1448; between 1536 and 1814 it also ruled Norway, which was then part of the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway.

The house was originally from northern Germany, where the Glücksburg (Lyksborg) branch held their small fief. The family had links with Norway beginning from the 15th century. Several of his paternal ancestors had been kings of Norway in union with Denmark and at times Sweden.

They included Christian I of Norway, Frederik I, Christian III, Frederik II, Christian IV, as well as Frederik III of Norway who integrated Norway into the Oldenburg state with Denmark, Schleswig and Holstein. His subsequent paternal ancestors had been dukes in Schleswig-Holstein. 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 educated at the Royal Danish Naval Academy and served in the Royal Danish Navy.

On July 22, 1896, in the Private Chapel of Buckingham Palace, Prince Carl married his first cousin Princess Maud of Wales. Princess Maud was the youngest daughter of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, and his wife, Princess Alexandra of Denmark, eldest daughter of King Christian IX and Queen Louise. The wedding was attended by the bride’s grandmother, the 77-year-old Queen Victoria.

After the wedding, the couple settled in Copenhagen, where Prince Carl continued his career as a naval officer. The bride’s father gave them Appleton House on the Sandringham Estate as a country residence for his daughter’s frequent visits to England. It was there that the couple’s only child, Prince Alexander, the future Crown Prince Olav (and eventually King Olav V of Norway), was born on July 2, 1903.

Princess Maud of Wales, Queen of Norway

After the Union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved in 1905, a committee of the Norwegian government identified several princes of European royal houses as candidates for the Norwegian crown.

Although Norway had legally had the status of an independent state since 1814, it had not had its own king since 1387. Gradually, Prince Carl became the leading candidate, largely because he was descended from independent Norwegian kings. He also had a son, providing an heir-apparent to the throne, and the fact that his wife, Princess Maud, was a member of the British Royal Family was viewed by many as an advantage to the newly independent Norwegian nation.

The democratically minded Carl, aware that Norway was still debating whether to remain a kingdom or to switch instead to a republican system of government, was flattered by the Norwegian government’s overtures, but he made his acceptance of the offer conditional on the holding of a referendum to show whether monarchy was the choice of the Norwegian people.

King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway with Crown Prince Olav

After the referendum overwhelmingly confirmed by a 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 Storting (parliament) and was elected on 18 November 18, 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 which had not been used by kings of Norway for over 500 years.

Queen Maud of Norway with her great-niece Princess Elizabeth of York (future Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom)

In so doing, he succeeded his maternal great-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.

On the morning of November 20, a large crowd gathered outside King Haakon VII and Queen Maud’s residence in Bernstorff’s Palace in Copenhagen. The attendees greeted the royal couple as they appeared in the window and started singing Ja, vi elsker dette landet.

Later the same day, King Christian IX of Denmark received a delegation from the Storting in an audience in Christian VII’s Palace at Amalienborg. The delegation conveyed the message that the king’s grandson had been elected King of Norway, while Christian IX expressed his consent to the election of Prince Carl.

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and King Haakon VII of Norway

As king, Haakon VII gained much sympathy from the Norwegian people. Although the Constitution of Norway vests the King with considerable executive powers, in practice Haakon confined himself to non-partisan roles without interfering in politics, a practice continued by his son and grandson.

Norway was invaded by Nazi Germany in April 1940. Haakon rejected German demands to legitimise the Quisling regime’s puppet government, and refused to abdicate after going into exile in Great Britain. As such, he played a pivotal role in uniting the Norwegian nation in its resistance to the invasion and the subsequent five-year-long occupation during the Second World War. He returned to Norway in June 1945 after the defeat of Germany.

He became King of Norway when his grandfather Christian IX was still reigning in Denmark, and before his father and elder brother became kings of Denmark. During his reign he saw his father Frederik VIII, his elder brother Christian X, and his nephew Frederik IX ascend the throne of Denmark, in 1906, 1912 (also of Iceland from 1918 to 1944), and 1947 respectively. Haakon died at the age of 85 in September 1957, after having reigned for nearly 52 years. He was succeeded by his only son, who ascended to the throne as Olav V.