Harald V
Harald V in 2021
King of Norway
Reign17 January 1991 – present
Benediction23 June 1991[a]
PredecessorOlav V
Heir apparentHaakon
Prime ministers
Born (1937-02-21) 21 February 1937 (age 87)
Skaugum, Akershus, Norway
(m. 1968)
FatherOlav V of Norway
MotherMärtha of Sweden
ReligionChurch of Norway
SignatureHarald V's signature

Harald V (Norwegian: Harald den femte, Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈhɑ̂rːɑɫ dɛn ˈfɛ̂mtə];[2] born 21 February 1937) is King of Norway. He succeeded to the throne on 17 January 1991.

Harald was the third child and only son of King Olav V of Norway and Princess Märtha of Sweden. He was second in the line of succession at the time of his birth, behind his father. 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. Harald became king following his father's death in 1991. He married Sonja Haraldsen in 1968, their relationship having initially been controversial due to her status as a commoner. They have two children, their elder child Märtha Louise and their younger child Haakon, who became heir apparent due to male-preference primogeniture. Märtha Louise is engaged to conspiracy theorist Durek Verrett.[3][4]

A keen sportsman, he represented Norway in sailing at the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympic Games, and later became patron of World Sailing.

Early life and education


Prince Harald with his mother Crown Princess Märtha in 1937

Prince Harald was born at the Skaugum estate during the reign of his grandfather King Haakon VII and was baptised in the Royal Chapel of the Royal Palace in Oslo on 31 March 1937 by Bishop Johan Lunde. His godparents were: his paternal grandparents King Haakon VII and Queen Maud of Norway; his maternal grandparents Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg of Sweden; his maternal uncle 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.

At the time of Harald's birth, he was second in line of succession to the Norwegian throne following his father, Crown Prince Olav.

Second World War

Prince Harald in 1943

In 1940 the entire royal family had to flee Oslo because of the German invasion. It was deemed safer for the family to split up. The King and Crown Prince Olav would remain in Norway and the Crown Princess was to make her way to Sweden with the three children. The latter party reached Sweden on the night of 10 April, but although Crown Princess Märtha was Swedish-born, they encountered problems at the border station. According to Princess Astrid and others who were present, they were admitted only after the driver threatened to ram the border gate. Another account does not describe the escape so dramatically.[5] However, when the King and Crown Prince inquired of Swedish foreign minister Christian Günther whether they could sleep one night in Sweden without being interned, their request was refused.[5]

Harald spent the following days in Sälen before moving to Prince Carl Bernadotte's home in Frötuna on 16 April. On 26 April the group moved to Drottningholm in Stockholm. King Gustaf V has been accounted to have had an amicable relationship with his Norwegian guests, but the topic of the war in Norway was not to be raised. However, influential Swedish politicians, including Minister of Justice Westman, wanted the Crown Princess and Prince Harald to be sent back to Norway so he could be proclaimed King by the Germans.[5][6] After the King and Crown Prince had to leave Norway on 7 June they felt Sweden might not be the best place for the rest of the family, and started planning for them to go to the United States. On 17 August the Crown Princess and her children left for the United States from Petsamo, Finland, aboard the United States Army transport ship American Legion.[5]

Harald, his mother, and his sisters lived in Washington, D.C. during the war,[7] 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. Such childhood experiences are reflected in a trace of an American accent when he speaks English.[8] The Doris Kearns Goodwin book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the Home Front in World War II contains a picture of the King (then Prince) playing with FDR's dog, Fala, on the North Lawn of the White House in 1944.

Harald visited Norwegian servicemen training in the United States. The prince also made visits outside America, travelling north to visit Norwegian personnel at the training base "Little Norway" in Ontario, Canada. He attended The White Hall Country School from 1943. Prince Harald returned to Norway with his family at the war's end in 1945.


In the autumn of 1945 he was enrolled in third grade of Smestad skole as the first member of the royal family to attend a public (state) school.

In 1951 he lost his maternal grandfather, Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland.

His Confirmation took place on 10 May 1953 at the Chapel of Akershus Castle.

Amidst this when he was only 17 years old in 1954, his mother died of cancer. The Crown Princess's death was a tremendous loss for him and his family as well as for Norway,[9] and he named his daughter Märtha to honour her memory. Four years later in 1958 he would lose his maternal grandmother, Princess Ingeborg of Denmark.

Crown Prince

Prince Harald as a student in the Cavalry Officers' Candidate School, Trandum, 1956/1957

In 1955 he graduated from Oslo katedralskole and in the autumn of that year, Harald began studies at the University of Oslo. He later attended the Cavalry Officers' Candidate School at Trandum, followed by enrollment at the Norwegian Military Academy, from which he graduated in 1959. On 21 September 1957 at the death of his grandfather, Harald became crown prince at the age of 20 and he attended the Council of State for the first time six days later and took the oath to the Constitution of Norway on 21 February 1958. In the same year, he also served as regent in the King's absence for the first time.

Crown Prince Harald with Australian Prime Minister John Gorton in 1970

In 1960, Harald entered Balliol College, Oxford where he studied history, economics and politics.[8] He was a keen rower during his student days at Oxford and was taught to row by fellow student and friend Nick Bevan, later a leading British school rowing coach. In 1960, he also made his first official journey abroad, visiting the United States in connection with the fiftieth anniversary of the American Scandinavian Foundation. An avid sailor,[10] Harald represented Norway in the yachting events of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 1964,[11] Mexico City in 1968,[8] and Munich in 1972. The Crown Prince carried the Norwegian flag at the opening parade of the 1964 Summer Olympics. Harald is an honorary president of the International Soling Association.


Main article: Wedding of Harald, Crown Prince of Norway, and Sonja Haraldsen

Harald married Sonja Haraldsen at Oslo Domkirke in Oslo on 29 August 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 throne. The couple had two children, Princess Märtha Louise and Crown Prince Haakon, heir apparent to the Norwegian throne.


On the death of his father on 17 January 1991, Harald succeeded to the Norwegian throne. He became the first Norwegian-born monarch since Olav IV died in 1387, a gap of 604 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. King Harald made the decision to use his grandfather's royal motto, "Alt for Norge". The King also chose to continue the tradition of royal benediction, a tradition that had been introduced with his father, and was consecrated together with Queen Sonja in the Nidaros Cathedral on 23 June 1991.[12]

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.[13][14] Under King Harald and Queen Sonja's leadership, comprehensive renovation projects on the Bygdøy Royal Estate, the Royal Palace, the royal stables and Oscarshall have also taken place. The latter three have also been opened to the public and tourists.[15] Together with Queen Sonja, the king has also for decades attempted to establish a palace museum in Oslo.[16][17]

Constitutional role

Main article: Monarchy of Norway

King Harald, Laura Bush, George W. Bush, and Queen Sonja, 2005
King Harald V with Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina in Buenos Aires, 2018

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 it is impossible for a King to keep a government in office against the will of Parliament. By convention, 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 most constitutional 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.

Until 2012, the King of Norway was, according to the constitution, the formal head of the Church of Norway. The constitutional amendment of 21 May 2012 made the King no longer the formal head, but he is still required to be of the Evangelical Lutheran religion.

On 8 May 2018, the King's constitutional status as holy was dissolved, while leaving his sovereign immunity intact.[18]

Sporting role

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. However, he was not present in Vancouver; the Crown Prince attended instead, with the King and Queen attending later in the games.

With his sailing crew he won World Championship bronze, silver and gold medals, in 1988, 1982 and 1987, respectively. In July 2005, the King and his crew aboard the royal sailboat Fram XV won the gold medal at the European Championships in Sweden. In the 2007 World Championship the King came in sixth place.[19]

Recent years

King Harald V in October 2021 at the opening of Sámi Parliament session of 2021–22

King Harald's leadership during Norwegian national crises, such as the New Year's Day Storm (1992), July 2011 massacre, 2020 Gjerdrum landslide, and particularly the COVID-19 pandemic (January 2020 to March 2022), have been met with both national and international acclaim.[20][21][22][23]

In 2015, he became the world's first reigning monarch to visit Antarctica, specifically the Norwegian dependency Queen Maud Land.[24] In 2016, King Harald V competed with a team for the sailing World Championships on Lake Ontario, Toronto. The king came second in the classic fleet category.[25] He was dubbed "Sailor-King" by Canada's National Post as he slept on board his yacht Sira.[26]

In 2016 Harald, in a speech marking 25 years on the throne, sought to unify Norwegians coming from Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as "girls who love girls, boys who love boys and girls and boys who love each other."[27]

Since the start of the twenty-first century, King Harald has been unable to perform his duties as sovereign due to ill health on a few occasions: from December 2003 to mid-April 2004 due to urinary bladder cancer, from April to early June 2005 due to aortic stenosis, and in 2020 due to cardiac surgery (replacement of a heart valve). Crown Prince Haakon served as the country's regent on these occasions, including giving the King's Speech at the State opening of parliament in 2020.[28]

When the King and Queen turned 80 years old in 2017, the King decided to open the former royal stables to the public as a gift to his wife, the Queen. The new venue was named The Queen Sonja Art Stable and is the first institution owned by the royal family which is permanently open to the public.[29] King Harald was made Name of the Year by the newspaper VG in 2017.[30]

On 17 January 2021, King Harald celebrated 30 years on the throne of Norway.[31] On 11 September 2022, King Harald visited Denmark to celebrate Margrethe II's Golden Jubilee.[32] Harald was hospitalized in August 2022 with a fever, being again admitted to hospital that December for an infection. He was also hospitalized for an infection once more in May 2023 just before Constitution Day. On 15 September 2023 he also attended the celebrations of Carl XVI Gustaf's Golden Jubilee in Stockholm, Sweden. In October 2023, Harald tested positive for coronavirus, having previously tested positive for the disease in March 2022.[33] Since the death of Elizabeth II in 2022, Harald is Europe's oldest hereditary reigning monarch, at the age of 87.[34]

On 31 January 2024, the royal palace announced that King Harald was on "sick leave" until 2 February due to a respiratory infection.[35] On 27 February, he was again hospitalized in Northern Malaysia resort island, Langkawi with an infection while on holiday in Malaysia. King Harald was admitted to the royal suites of Sultanah Maliha Hospital, a government hospital and the only major hospital in the island, and had a temporary pacemaker implanted due to a low heart rate.[36][37] He was discharged on 3 March and was transported back to Norway on a medical evacuation flight to continue his recovery in a hospital, during which he would be on sick leave for two weeks[38][39] and received a permanent pacemaker on 12 March.[40] He was discharged on 14 March but remained on sick leave.[41] He resumed his duties on 22 April, with the royal household saying that his official activities would be reduced in light of his condition.[42]


Honours and medals

See also: List of honours of the Norwegian Royal Family by country

The King is a four-star general, an admiral, and formally the Supreme Commander of the Norwegian Armed Forces. The infantry battalion His Majesty the King's Guard are considered the King's and the Royal Family's bodyguards. They guard the Royal residences, including the Royal Palace, the Crown Prince Residence at Skaugum, and the Royal Mausoleum at Akershus Castle.

National honours and medals

The King is Grand Master of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav and the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit.

Medal record
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1987 World Championship Sailing
Silver medal – second place 1982 World Championship Sailing
Bronze medal – third place 1988 World Championship Sailing
European Championships
Gold medal – first place 2005 European Championship Sailing

Foreign honours

In the British Army, Harald V was appointed an honorary general in 1994,[43] and he was the final Colonel-in-Chief of the Green Howards.[44] He is also an honorary Colonel in the British Royal Marines.[45] He is patron of the Anglo-Norse Society in London, formerly together with Queen Elizabeth II, his second cousin. Harald is in the line of succession to the British throne, because of his descent from King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. He is a Stranger Knight Companion of the Order of the Garter, an Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, and a Recipient of the Royal Victorian Chain, as well as numerous other orders of chivalry.

Northern European countries

Other countries

The mark ° shows honours mentioned on his official website page about decorations

Miscellaneous honours

Harald V received an honorary degree of Doctor of Civil Law from Oxford University in 2006 (as did his father, King Olav, in 1937, and his grandfather, King Haakon, in 1943).[57] The King also received honorary doctorates from Heriot-Watt University in Scotland in 1994,[58] the University of Strathclyde in Scotland in 1985, Waseda University in Japan in 2001, and Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, in 2015.[59] He is also an honorary fellow at Balliol College, Oxford.


Name Birth Marriage
Date Spouse Issue
Princess Märtha Louise 22 September 1971 24 May 2002 Ari Behn (divorced 2017)
Crown Prince Haakon Magnus 20 July 1973 25 August 2001 Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby

See also


  1. ^ Coronation requirement discarded by constitutional amendment in 1908. Harald V swore the Royal Oath in the Storting on 21 January 1991 and received the benediction in the Nidaros Cathedral on 23 June 1991.


  1. ^ "The Royal Family". Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  2. ^ Berulfsen, Bjarne (1969). Norsk Uttaleordbok (in Norwegian). Oslo: H. Aschehoug & Co (W Nygaard). pp. 64, 91, 129.
  3. ^ "Norway princess quits royal duties for alternative medicine". BBC. Retrieved 9 November 2022. Verrett [has been] described as 'a charlatan', a conman and a conspiracy theorist
  4. ^ "Norwegians resist spell of Martha Louise's fiancé Durek Verrett". The Times. Retrieved 11 November 2022. He is also a conspiracy theorist with unusual views on everything from cancer to Covid
  5. ^ a b c d Hegge, Per Egil; Harald V, En biografi; N.W. Damm & Søn AS; 2006.
  6. ^ "Kidnapper Foiled?". Time. 2 September 1940. Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  7. ^ "Non-Political Campaign". Time. 9 September 1940. p. 2. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
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  13. ^ NRK. "– Å si at vi ikke er åpne, er rett og slett feil". NRK (in Norwegian Bokmål). Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
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  24. ^ "King Harald visits Antarctic namesake". The Local. 11 February 2015. Archived from the original on 15 February 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
    "Sun shines for king in Antarctica". newsinenglish.no. 11 February 2015. Archived from the original on 14 February 2015. Retrieved 15 February 2015.
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Harald VHouse of GlücksburgBorn: 21 February 1937 Norwegian royalty Preceded byOlav Crown Prince of Norway 1957–1991 Succeeded byHaakon Regnal titles Preceded byOlav V King of Norway 1991–present IncumbentHeir apparent:Haakon