Saturday, February 21, 2009

Happy birthday to HM King Harald V!

His Majesty King Harald V of Norway was born 72 years ago today. He has been our king, increasingly beloved by a nation to whom his father embodied a royal ideal, for 18 years.

On this day in 1937 the weather was much the same as it is today. :-) Today is deeply overcast and the snow is coming down quite densely across an already snow-covered city and countryside; 72 years ago there was also a whole lot of snow, it was overcast, and snowing just a little. The birth of then-Crown Prince Olav and his Crown Princess Märtha's third child was awaited with eagerness and trepidation across the country. It seemed likely that this would be the couple's last child; their two daughters were already almost seven and just turned five, respectively. And if this were to be the last birth (as indeed it was), then it must, it absolutely must be a boy this time. At that time, women could not inherit the Norwegian throne (although of course some arrangement must be made if there should be no male heir), and our new monarchy, still young, could easily find itself in trouble if it should fail to live up to this most basic of traditions. I can't imagine how the Crown Princess must have felt. Of course, in 1937 a woman had no way of finding out the sex of the child she carried. No doubt she looked forward to becoming a mother again. But what an immense weight of pressure must have been on her from all quarters. This really is a Crown Princess' only true duty - the production of an heir. How she must have dreaded the prospect of failure as the expected day drew nearer and the entire nation waited to hear the desired news.

However, the entire time that this went on - there was some debate, of course, as to the future of the monarchy in the event of a third daughter in the royal family - there were always two people who were completely confident of the outcome. Their two little Highnesses, Ragnhild and Astrid. :-) They always had perfect faith in the tendency of things to go well. ;-) No doubt ever entered their minds - they were going to get a little brother soon, so there. What were all the grownups fussing so much over??

As their mother went into labor in the early hours of the 21st, the two little princesses were sent out to play in the vast drifts of snow that covered the estates of Skaugum Farm. It wasn't quite a perfect day for such activities - snow, crisp cold air, but alas, no sun - but of course the girls must be kept out of the way. :-) The court held its collective breath - oh, how would it go?? But the princesses never worried. Every so often they would shake the snow off their boots and go inside to beg a little treat and to ask their nanny, Is our brother here yet? And every time that lady had to answer, anxiously, No, darlings, not yet. Until finally, after hours of this, she could answer her two charges with delight, Yes, your brother's here now!! :-)

In response to which the little Highnesses of course asked, Can he come and play in the snow with us?? So they were disappointed again - No, I'm afraid not quite yet. :-D

The new baby was given the name Harald at his baptism in the Palace Chapel on March 31st, 1937. (A choice laden with symbolism; this was the name of the first ever king of Norway, more than a thousand years earlier. :-) The boy carried to the font that day was the first prince to have been born in Norway for 567 years. At his blessing in the Cathedral of Nidaros on June 23rd, 1991, he became the first king of Norway to have been born on Norwegian soil for more than six hundred years. Way to go. :-)

Happy birthday. :-)

I have of course put up the flag on my balcony ... and the flagpole on the commons is flying its flag too. Of course. :-) I had to take a picture, I think it's a fun shot. :-)

Translation of the Aftenposten front page above:

The Evening Mail - Extra
A PRINCE OF NORWAY IS BORN
Crown Princess Märtha was delivered today at 12:45pm of a healthy son.
Mother and child are well.
An official bulletin from Skaugum [the heir's residence]:
Crown Princess Märtha has today at 12:45pm been delivered of a son.
Later, the following bulletin: HRH the Crown Princess gave birth today, February 21st at 12:45pm, to a healthy son. The birth progressed normally. Both the Crown Princess and the little Prince are entirely well.
Skaugum, February 21st, 1937. Anton Sunde - Hans L.C. Huitfeldt
An official bulletin [from the Palace]:
A meeting of the Cabinet will be held tomorrow at 9:30am on the occasion of the Prince's birth.
The King himself informed the Prime Minister over the phone of the joyous event.
It is 567 years since a prince was last born in Norway.
The news became known in Oslo only slowly due to the large number of weekend excursions taking place, but presently flags began to go up on public buildings and private homes. The Evening Mail soon experienced a storm of calls on its phone lines. The news was everywhere received with the greatest joy.

1 comment:

DES said...

I liked his father better—and I have high hopes for his son. Anyone who quotes Winnie the Pooh in his New Year's Eve address to the nation is all right by me.

(Haakon Magnus was regent for four months in 2003-2004, and again for two months in 2005)