Monday, 26 October 2009

On this date: Abdication of Oscar II

104 years ago today, Oscar II abdicated as King of Norway. Although he was deposed by the Norwegian Parliament on 7 June 1905, it was only on 26 October 1905 that he renounced his and his family’s rights to the Norwegian throne.
The unilateral dissolution of the Swedish-Norwegian union by the Norwegian Parliament led to negotiations between the two countries in Karlstad in August and September, with an agreement being reached on 23 September. The Karlstad agreement was ratified by the Norwegian Parliament on 9 October and by an extraordinary Swedish Parliament on 13 October. The photo shows Oscar II, the last crowned King of Sweden, dressed and robed for the State Opening of Parliament.
At the same time as the Norwegian Parliament dissolved the union it asked King Oscar to choose a prince of his house to become King of Norway. The Norwegians would have preferred his third son, Prince Carl, but the youngest son Prince Eugen and the King’s grandson Prince Wilhelm were also possible candidates.
Unofficially Oscar II offered the Norwegians his second son, Prince Oscar Bernadotte, but this suggestion was rejected by the Norwegian representative, Fritz Wedel Jarlsberg, for the reason that Prince Oscar Bernadotte, who had lost his succession rights by marrying a commoner, was not a member of the royal house and thus not included in the so-called “Bernadotte Proposal”.
Officially Oscar II did not reply to the Bernadotte Proposal until his abdication on 26 October. This created certain difficulties for the Norwegians, whose negotiations with another candidate, Prince Carl of Denmark, had to be conducted in strictest secrecy.
The extraordinary Swedish Parliament was dissolved on 18 October 1905 without having asked the King to accept the Bernadotte Proposal. This paved the way for Oscar II’s renunciation of the Norwegian throne.
He did so in a letter to the Speaker of the Norwegian Parliament on 26 October. In the letter he also declared that if a member of his family who was in line of succession to the Swedish throne were to become King of Norway, it would probably lead only to suspicion directed not only against him, but also against King Oscar – in other words the Norwegian King risked being suspected of putting the interests of Sweden before those of his own kingdom. This, King Oscar feared, would undermine the monarchy’s standing in both countries. “Therefore I declare that I cannot accept the Parliament’s proposal”, Oscar II concluded.
The letter was sent by mail and arrived in Oslo the next day, where the Speaker of Parliament, Johan Thorne, visibly moved, read it out in Parliament at 5 p.m. The Members of Parliament stood up while listening to this last act of the Bernadottes’ reign in Norway.

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