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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

No crowns for the ‘crown couple’

Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon Magnus and his wife, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, were among royals from all over the world attending the coronation of King Charles III in London on Saturday. They won’t ever be crowned themselves, though: The ritual was eliminated by law in Norway just three years after the country’s first modern monarch arrived from Denmark in 1905.

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit represented Norway at the coronation of King Charles III in London this weekend. PHOTO: Det kongelige hoff/Ommund Liland

Haakon Magnus’ great-grandfather, King Haakon VII, was a Danish prince who was offered the role of king when Norway finally became its own sovereign nation in 1905. Norway, along with Denmark and Sweden, had royal traditions dating back to Viking kings who did go through coronation rituals that included being anointed with oils believed to make them god-like. When Norway broke out of its last troubled union, with Sweden, it opted for a new constitutional monarchy of its own.

That’s what ultimately brought Denmark’s Prince Carl and his wife Maud, a British princess, to Norway 118 years ago. The couple was crowned as King Haakon VII and Queen Maud at the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim in 1906. The coronation, however, “left a bad taste in the mouths” of members of the Norwegian Parliament, wrote commentator Kjetil B Alstadheim in newspaper Aftenposten last week.

There was no lack of pomp at King Haakon VII’ and Queen Maud’s coronation in 1906, and the ritual was quickly dropped. PHOTO: Det kongelige hoffs fotoarkiv/Peder O. Aune

Several Norwegian MPs, he wrote, viewed a coronation as a holdover from pre-democratic times. They’d hoped it would be a modest arrangement, but it wasn’t: With Haakon and Maud coming from royal backgrounds with strong coronation traditions, they were both crowned and anointed in what amounted to a consecration deemed too high-brow for the new Norwegian nation.

Members of Parliament thus did away with the coronation tradition and Norway’s constitution from 1814 was amended as early as 1908 to reflect the end of coronations. When King Haakon died in 1957, however, his son Olav reportedly wanted to at least kneel at Nidaros’ alter, too, and receive a blessing. Another ceremony was thus held but without crowns and oil. A third was held after King Olav V died in 1991 and his son Harald became Norway’s new king. That paved the way for what the Royal Palace in Oslo now calls a signingstradisjon that amounts to a form of consecration offered by the Norwegian Church for a new monarch.

Alstadheim, who’s long argued in favour of Norway becoming a republic, notes that Crown Prince Haakon Magnus may also opt for a similar ceremony at Nidaros. He and his sister, Princess Martha Louise, took part in the ceremony as teenagers, Crown Princess Mette-Marit has made a pilgrimage to the cathedral and Martha Louise even married her first husband there. The Norwegian monarch is no longer head of the Norwegian Church, which remains state-funded but more distanced from the state itself, but still obliged in the constitution to be a member of the church and believe in it.

A new monarch is also obliged to take an oath to uphold Norway’s constitution and its laws, with the help of an “all-knowing and all-seeing” god. A “blessing” ceremony is therefore still likely to be held as a means of filling a public need to mark the transition.

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit represented Norway at Saturday’s coronation in Westminister Abbey, and conveyed the congratulations of Norway’s now-86-year-old King Harald. The also attended a reception at Buckingham Palace on the eve of the coronation on Friday.

Even the British coronation, meanwhile, was toned down from the last one for the late Queen Elizabeth 70 years ago. It was smaller and guests had been asked to refrain from wearing tiaras, according to author Trond Norén Isaksen, apparently because of hard times in Britain at present and an effort to simplify and modernize the ceremony. That meant Mette-Marit didn’t wear one of 17 tiaras used by members of the Norwegian royal family, one of which reportedly has been used at three earlier British coronations. Berglund



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