by Scott Mehl
Born Prince Carl of Denmark (Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel) at the Charlottenlund Palace on August 3, 1872, he was the second son of King Frederik VIII of Denmark and Princess Louise of Sweden. He attended the Danish Naval Academy and served as an officer in the Royal Danish Navy until 1905.
On July 22, 1896, Prince Carl married Princess Maud of Wales, his first cousin and the daughter of the future King Edward VII of the United Kingdom. Carl’s father and Maud’s mother were siblings. In 1903, the couple had a son, Prince Alexander (later King Olav V), born at Appleton House on the Sandringham Estate.
In 1905, upon the dissolution of the Union between Sweden and Norway, the Norwegian government began searching for candidates to become King of Norway. Because of his descent from prior Norwegian monarchs, as well as his wife’s British connections, Carl was the overwhelming favorite. Before accepting, Carl insisted that the voices of the Norwegian people be heard in regards to retaining a monarchy. Following a referendum with a 79% majority in favor, Prince Carl was formally offered and then accepted the throne. He sailed for Norway, arriving on November 25, 1905, and took the oath as King two days later. He took the name Haakon VII.
During World War II, King Haakon and his son fled to the United Kingdom where he maintained a Government in exile. Haakon continued to broadcast speeches to the Norwegian people. Despite pressure from Hitler, Haakon refused the Norwegian Parliament’s request to abdicate. Following the war, King Haakon and his family returned to Norway – exactly five years from the date they had been evacuated to the United Kingdom.
The post-war years saw the marriage of his eldest granddaughter, Princess Ragnhild, and the death of his daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Märtha. In 1955, the King suffered a fall from which he never fully recovered. His son Olav took over much of the King’s responsibilities and took the throne as King Olav V upon his father’s death. Haakon was the grandfather of King Harald V of Norway.
On September 21, 1957, King Haakon VII of Norway passed away at the Royal Palace in Oslo. He was 85 years old. He was buried on October 1, 1957 at the Akershus Fortress next to his beloved wife, Queen Maud.