History of the Kings of Norway
The monarchy of Norway has existed since as early as 872 AD. Over the centuries, the monarchy has traditionally been hereditary although some kings have risen to power through elections. Throughout its history, Norway has been divided into several kingdoms, which were later unified, and under the rule of both Germanic and Danish monarchs. After the defeat of Napoleon during the Napoleonic Wars, Norway was to be ceded to Sweden. An independence movement began, however, and in 1814, Norway became an independent country. Since its independence, this country has had 8 kings. This article takes a look at some of the Norwegian kings since 1814.
Kings of Norway Since 1814
The first King of independent Norway was Charles II (also known as Charles XIII of Sweden) under the House of Holstein-Gottorp. He was elected by the Parliament of Norway after the Swedish-Norwegian war as a means of strengthening the relationship between the two countries. Before he be became King of Norway, however, his health was deteriorating. Because he did not have a natural heir, King Charles II adopted Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, who became Crown Prince and acted on behalf of the King. King Charles II was recognized by title only and passed away in 1818.
Charles III John
Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte succeeded the King Charles II as King Charles III John of Norway. This began the reign of the House of Bernadotte. King Charles III John ruled over Norway and Sweden from 1818 until his death in 1844. His son, King Oscar I, assumed the crown from 1844 to 1859. This was followed by the grandson and great grandson of Charles III: King Charles IV (1859 to 1872) and King Oscar II (1872 to 1905). Each of the kings of the House of Bernadotte worked toward maintaining good relations between Norway and Sweden. These kings were more powerful in Sweden than in Norway, however, due to the substantial governmental powers given to the Parliament of Norway.
King Oscar II
In 1905, Norway took a step closer to full independence. The Norwegian Parliament voted to create a separate Norwegian consulate body to oversee issues of shipping and trade. King Oscar II refused to sign the legislation into law and the Norwegian Parliament resigned. Unable to establish a new government, King Oscar II was deemed a failure. The general population of Norway voted to separate completely from Sweden and the new Parliament approached Prince Carl of Denmark to be the new King of Norway.
Prince Carl of Denmark accepted the Norwegian throne in November of 1905 and became known as King Haakon VII (a traditional name of Norwegian kings). The move began the reign of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, the current ruling House. King Haakon VII respected the power of Parliament and the government. He became a symbol of unity for the country. He is remembered for resisting the German invasion during World War II, although maintaining respect for the government’s decision. His conviction influenced the government to reject Germany’s demands. This led to their exile until the end of the war. Upon his death in 1957, Prince Olav took the throne as King Olav V. He reigned from 1957 to 1991, when his son Harald was crowned King.
The current King of Norway is Harald V, the first monarch to be born in Norway in roughly 650 years. He conducts weekly meetings with the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister and makes official visits to other nations around the world. He was once the Head of the Church of Norway, although new legislation in 2012 eliminated this responsibility.
Responsibilities of the King of Norway
The King formally appoints the Council of State, which consists of Ministers and the Prime Minister. The members are actually chosen, however, by the Leader of the political party with majority representation in Parliament. Additionally, the King signs all legislation into law and has the authority to veto these laws. This veto can be overruled by Parliament. The King of Norway is also the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces and has the power to call the country to war.