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The King's Crown. Photo: Lasse Berre
The King's Crown. Photo: Lasse Berre

The Royal Regalia

The royal regalia are symbols of the king's power and majesty, and of the monarchy as a form of government. The word "regalia" is derived from the Latin "Rex" meaning "worthy of a king". The most important function of the regalia was associated with coronations, the formal investiture of the sovereign to his status as king. The first Norwegian king to be crowned was Magnus Erlingsson in 1163.

The original Norwegian regalia have been lost. They are mentioned in several sources including Sverre’s Saga, but the trail of their whereabouts ends in 1537. Legend has it that Norway’s last Roman Catholic archbishop, Olav Engelbrekston, took the King’s crown and sword of state with him when he fled the country following the Reformation. He died shortly after, and it is not known what became of the regalia.

During Norway’s union with Denmark, coronations of the Dano-Norwegian kings were held in Denmark. Consequently, when Carl Johan was preparing for his coronation in 1818 Norway did not have its own regalia. The king solved this problem by paying for the making of the essential items himself.

In 1908 the Storting amended the Constitution, abolishing the Article on coronation. Thus, the last king and queen to be crowned were King Haakon VII and Queen Maud. However, both the King’s Crown and the Queen’s Crown were placed on the high altar during the Service of Consecration and Blessing for King Harald and Queen Sonja in 1991.

The Norwegian royal regalia and other coronation objects are now on permanent display in the Archbishop’s Palace in Trondheim. The Dano-Norwegian royal regalia from the 1600s are kept at Rosenborg Palace in Copenhagen.