21 February 2012

HM King Harald V of Norway's 75th birthday

HM King Harald V of Norway celebrated his 75th birthday today, 21 February, which was marked with the traditional 21-gun-salute and flag-flying.

The birth of an heir to the Norwegian throne was received with great joy back in 1937. The newborn prince, who was born at the Crown princely estate Skaugum in Asker outside Oslo forty-five minutes after noon on Sunday 21 February 1937, was the third child of Crown Prince Olav (later King Olav V) and Crown Princess Märtha. The Crown prince couple also had 2 daughters, Princess Ragnhild and Princess Astrid, who were born in 1930 and 1932 respectively, but at the time the succession law was agnatic. The birth of an heir was therefore great news!

The first news bulletin only told that «Crown Princess Märtha has today at 12.45 given birth to a son». Later another bulletin was announced: «Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess gave today at 12.45 birth to a healthy son. The birth took a normal course. Both the Crown princess as well as the little prince are doing well. Skaugum 21 February 1937. Anton Sunde. Hans L.C. Huitfeldt.» All the quotes are translated from Aftenposten's morning edition 22 February 1937.

If the book «The prince and the nanny» by Odell M. Bjerkness (2008) is to be believed, the newborn prince weighed 3170 grams at birth (the book is full of mistakes, but the appendices which among other include «Excerpts of weight and milk charts, February 23-April 23, 1937» are surely trustworthy).

Aftenposten follows up by informing that Professor Dr. Anton Sunde and Dr. Hans L.C. Huitfeldt were present at the birth, assisted by chief midwife Mrs. Guldborg Tornøe and midwife Mrs. Koren. The last-mentioned also assisted at the births of Princess Ragnhild and Princess Astrid. Mrs. Koren was also responsible for the nursing care of the newborn baby.

The prince's grandfather King Haakon VII called Prime Minister Johan Nygaardsvold to inform him about the birth. It was soon decided that an extraordinary Council of State would take place on Monday 22 February at 09.30. The royal resolution published in Norsk Lovtidend (the Norwegian Legal Gazette) said, in my translation:
His Majesty The King announces in council that Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Märtha yesterday at 12,45 gave birth to a healthy son. His Majesty decided that the newborn Hereditary Prince should be christened under the name Harald. His Majesty asked that this information was made known to the Storting.
Prime Minister Johan Nygaardsvold also made a statement which was not published in the Legal Gazette, but found its way to the columns of among others Aftenposten's evening edition on 22 February:
«Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness. It is with great pleasure that the Government has received the communication about the event that has taken place. But this is not only a happy event. It is also a historical event, which unite Norway's old and new history together in a happy way. The Government – and with it the Norwegian people – wishes to extend our best wishes to the parents, who have got a son, the two princesses, who have got a brother, and Your Majesty and Her Majesty The Queen who have got a «son's son» [grandchild]. May our hereditary prince – this Sunday child – be healthy and well. May he be only a joy to the royal house. May he get a place in the hearts of the people.»
Soon after the Council of State had taken place, the prime minister hurried down to the Storting to give the following announcement at 10 a.m:
«In accordance with the Constitution Article 6 it is made known to the Norwegian Storting that her Royal Highness Crown Princess Märtha yesterday at 12.45 gave birth to a healthy son. The newborn hereditary prince will be christened under the name Harald.»
The President of the Storting, Magnus Nilsen, thereafter held the following speech:
«The Storting has hereby received the official communication that a Norwegian prince has been born, an event in the country's history which has not occurred for about 600 years. The Norwegian people surely shares with the royal house the joy of the happy event and on this occasion best wishes are sent to the royal house from all parts of the country. The President asks for the Storting's authority to the presidium to extend its best wishes to the royal house.»
The birth was marked by a 21-gun-salute at noon, 22 February 1937.

The salute regulations were of course followed also today, as already mentioned. A great day to celebrate the 75th birthday of the king! Nice, sunny weather – quite a contrast to the 70th birthday when the temperatures were below –15 C. I was rather impressed by the long line of people at the Palace Square today, waiting patiently to sign the congratulation protocol. An electronic protocol was also made available at Kongehuset.no (click on «Legg til en melding») from 9 a.m. to midnight (so there is still time!).

King Harald's 75th birthday was celebrated privately, and apparently abroad, as the Crown Prince banner was flown from the Palace today (go here for a short summary of the flag-flying rules in force from 1 June 2003). Actually, it was not easy to see which banner was flown, as it was too windy, but the assistant information director Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen insisted that it was the swallowtail banner which was flown!

The official celebrations of King Harald and Queen Sonja will take place on 31 May 2012 and will among others include a service at the Oslo Domkirke (Cathedral) and an arrangement at the roof of the Norwegian Opera house.

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