Haakon VII of Norway: The Man and the Monarch

Haakon VII of Norway: The Man and the Monarch

Haakon VII of Norway: The Man and the Monarch

Haakon VII of Norway: The Man and the Monarch


The life of King Haakon falls into three distinct phases. The first shows him as a young Danish prince and as a naval officer. The second is the period from 1905 to 1940, in which he played his part in the establishment of the modern Norwegian monarchy. In the third phase he figures as the rallying-point of the nation at a time of crisis, and so becomes a 'people's king' -- a title of honour recalling the way in which the Norwegians of the Viking period described their kings.

The present biography seeks to portray Haakon VII as man and as monarch, while making clear typical features in the monarchical form of government as it has developed in Norway during the present century. The English version of the book omits a number of matters judged to be of minor importance or chiefly of local interest. This has made it possible to give more space to the international contacts of the royal family and to the constitutional aspects of the reign. The chapters have been provided with introductory sections by the translator, who is also responsible (unless otherwise indicated) for the explanatory notes, for the bibliographical note and for the amplification of the index to meet the needs of non- Norwegian readers.

The paucity of the source material surviving from King Haakon's own hand increases the author's indebtedness to the King's royal relations. His Majesty King Olav V has supported every stage of the work with interviews which have provided valuable information, guidance and encouragement. He has also given permission for the use of extracts from a long series of private letters. A large part of this correspondence is deposited in the Royal Archives at Windsor and has been examined by gracious permission of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty Queen Margarethe of Denmark has likewise given gracious permission for the use of letters from King Haakon to her great-grandfather, King Frederik VIII.

The author's task would have been impossible without the unfailing support of the Private Secretary to King Olav, Mr Vincent Bommen, to whom he is deeply grateful for his help and trust. His special thanks are also due to the Palace Librarian, Mrs Lise Kongstad, who has assembled materials for his book, including a number of hitherto unpublished illustrations, some of them taken from Queen Maud's private albums.

Documents relating to the German invasion of 1940 are cited from the translation published at the time in Norway and the War, for which permission has kindly been given by the Oxford University Press and the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London.

Oslo, T.G. July 1981 . . .

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