Today I have an article in Aften (the evening issue of Aftenposten) in which I reveal that, contrary to what has generally been thought, Oscarshall Palace has in fact been a royal residence.
When I worked as a guide at Oscarshall Palace we were told that legend says that Oscar I spent only one night at the Palace he and his wife Queen Josephina had built between 1847 and 1852. The same legend is referred to in Gunnar Hjelde’s book Oscarshall – Lystslottet på Bygdøy (1978), while Nina Høye, an art historian employed by the Royal Court, dismissed it as “most likely not correct” in her recent book Oscarshall (2009). It is not clear what Høye based her dismissal on.
As Oscar I came to Norway only twice after Oscarshall was completed – in 1852 and 1855 – these were the only chances he had to use his new palace. My friend Monica Mørch, who is in charge of the Norwegian Folk Museum’s project about the history of Bygdøy Royal Manor, has found a document which shows that the King intended to stay at Oscarshall in 1852. That year the royal visit was however cut short by the death of the King’s son, Prince Gustaf, upon their arrival in Christiania (now Oslo).
But in the summer of 1855 the King returned to Christiania with two of his surviving sons, Crown Prince Carl and Prince Oscar, and his daughter-in-law Crown Princess Lovisa. On 14 August 1855 the newspaper Morgenbladet informs us: “The King resides at Oscarshall”.
Later the royals went to Horten, and when they returned the same newspaper says that the Crown Prince and Crown Princess moved into the Royal Palace. Some days later the students, carrying torches, paraded past Oscarshall in boats in honour of the King, who was obviously again in residence there.
The King also received important visitors at Oscarshall, among them the French minister to Norway and Sweden. During the ongoing Crimean War King Oscar I was busy distancing himself from his father’s pro-Russian politics and wished for a rapprochement with France and Britain, something which resulted in the so-called “November Treaty” later that year.
Another visitor to the King at Oscarshall was the Governor General, Severin Løvenskiold. Supposedly the King and the Governor General discussed Løvenskiold’s retirement, a wish the King granted when he appointed Crown Prince Carl Viceroy of Norway the next year.
Løvenskiold himself wrote in his autobiographical notes that the King stayed at Oscarshall from 29 July to 1 September 1855. This is however not correct and those dates were the dates for the King’s entire stay in Norway that year. He left on 1 September 1855, never to return to Norway before succumbing to a brain tumour in July 1859.
After the article was completed I have found some further information and is thus able to add that King Oscar I and Prince Oscar moved into Oscarshall Palace on 31 July 1855.
The article may be read here: