King Haakon VII of Norway

On this day in 1905, the dissolution of the personal union between Sweden and Norway, in effect for just under 90 years, came to an end.

Prince Carl of Denmark (full name Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel) of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg became more simply known as King Haakon VII of Norway. He was married to Maud of Wales, the daughter of Queen Victoria’s son and heir, the future Edward the Peacemaker.

An early piece of Scandinavian film footage is a short clip of the newly elected King Haakon and his family disembarking from the ship, Heimdal, at Kristiania (Oslo, as was) for the first time. Haakon and Maud were crowned the following year at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim.

King Haakon VII reigned for 52 years until his death in September 1957, having guided Norway through two World Wars. Indeed, he threatened to abdicate if his government wished to co-operate with the invading Nazis during World War Two. Such was the respect for him, he did not have to carry out this threat, being credited with doing much to preserve the Norwegian sense of unity and leadership.

He was the first king of an independent Norway in over five centuries, Norway having joined the Kalmar Union in 1397 under Margaret of Denmark, also Queen of Norway and Sweden because she married Haakon VI of Norway, also King of Sweden, although Swedish history becomes complicated at this time and he faced a lot of rebellions and being deposed. Although the Kalmar Union was dissolved when Gustav Vasa became King of Sweden in 1523, Norway remained joined with Denmark until 1814. Fighting in the Baltic towards the end of the Napoleonic wars (during which Denmark-Norway had been compelled to join France, and the two nations had been separated, forcing Norway to establish her own variety of government), led to the break-up of established unions. That of Denmark-Norway and Sweden-Finland.

Norway was joined to Sweden, although it was effectively granted home rule for many matters; and Finland was subsumed into Russia.

Less than a century later, Norway was in a position to elect her own King and finally to be free of ‘foreign’ governance. And she seems to have chosen well in the Danish-born great-nephew of the Swedish king.

So, to King Haakon VII!

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