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Election of a king

On 7 June 1905 the Norwegian Storting passed a resolution for Norway to secede from its union with Sweden. In the wake of the dissolution of the union there was much discussion of Norway’s future form of government. Within the Liberal Party, which held the majority, a sizeable faction advocated a republic. In the end the question was put to the people.

In connection with the dissolution of the union with Sweden, the Storting extended an offer to King Oscar II to constitute a prince of the House of Bernadotte as King of Norway. This was a gesture of goodwill meant to alleviate the considerable tension between the two countries. However, King Oscar formally declined the offer.

A Danish prince

Even before King Oscar had renounced his claim to the Norwegian throne, Prince Carl of Denmark was being considered as a potential candidate for king. This had several advantages in a foreign policy context: the Prince was married to Princess Maud, the daughter of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom and Norway was greatly in need of the support of the UK in its present situation. Furthermore, the Prince and Princess already had a son, thereby ensuring the succession. Moreover, Prince Carl’s genealogy could be traced back to the Fairhair dynasty, and his mother was of the House of Bernadotte.

A king chosen by the people

During autumn 1905 there were increasing demands to make Norway a republic. News of the debate reached Copenhagen. Prince Carl insisted that he would only accept the offer to become king if the population truly supported the idea of a monarchy. It was therefore decided to hold a referendum on Norway’s future form of government.

The referendum was held on 12-13 November. The result was 259,563 votes in favour of a monarchy versus 69,264 in favour of a republic. This gave Prince Carl a clear popular mandate. On 18 November the President of the Storting sent the Prince a telegram formally offering him the Norwegian throne. Prince Carl accepted the offer, announcing that he would take the name Haakon and give his son, Alexander, the name Olav.

Independent nation

In the early morning of 25 November, Norway’s new royal family sailed into the Oslo Fjord on board the Danish Royal Yacht Dannebrog, through thick fog and heavy snow. They boarded the Norwegian naval vessel Heimdal at Oscarsborg Fortress, and continued on their way to the capital.

Prime Minister Christian Michelsen welcomed the new king with these words:
“It has been nearly 600 years since the Norwegian people have had a king of their own. Not in all this time has he been solely our own. We have always had to share him with others. Never has he made his home among us. And where the home lies also lies the heart of the nation. Today, that all changes. Today, Norway’s young king has come to build his home in the capital of our country. Chosen by a free people as a free man to lead this country, he is to be our very own. Once again, the king of the Norwegian people will emerge as a powerful, unifying symbol of the new, independent Norway and all that it shall undertake.”

Cannons were fired in salute upon the arrival of King Haakon VII, Queen Maud and Crown Prince Olav in Oslo. Throughout the city church bells were sounded to celebrate Norway’s new royal family. On 27 November 1905 King Haakon swore an oath of allegiance to the constitution in the Storting. On 22 June 1906 the King and Queen were crowned and anointed in Nidaros Cathedral. The coronation and reestablishment of the national monarchy came to represent a struggle that had been won, a Norway that was forever more free and independent.


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King Haakon arrives in Norway 25 November 1905, with Crown Prince Olav on his arm (Photo: NRK / The Royal Court Photo Archives)

Kong Haakon VII 1905

Kong Haakons ord til Statsminister Christian Michelsen på dekket av Heimdal ved ankomsten til Norge i 1905. Lydfilen tilhører Nasjonalbiblioteket.