On history, royalty, politics, architecture, art and literature
Monday, 17 May 2010
On this date: Norway’s National Day
Today is the National Day of Norway, which celebrates the events of 1814 when independence was won and the Constitution which is still in force (making it the second oldest in the world) worked out. The Constitution was passed on 16 May 1814, but was dated 17 May as this was the date it was signed by the Speaker of the Constituent Assembly and some other members – the rest of them signed on 18 May. 17 May 1814 was also the date Christian Frederik was elected King of Norway. As has been the tradition since 1870, with a few exceptions, Oslo’s schoolchildren today paraded up Karl Johan Street and past the Royal Palace, where the King and Queen, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and Princess Ingrid Alexandra greeted them from the balcony. As usual Princess Astrid also appeared in a window. This is now so much part of the celebrations that it is taken for granted, but for many years it was not so. It became customary to celebrate Constitution Day in the years following its 10th anniversary in 1824, but this caused King Carl XIV Johan’s deep displeasure. The King rather wanted Norway to celebrate the union with Sweden and the revised version of the Constitution which were passed on 4 November and saw the celebrations of 17 May as an almost revolutionary act. In 1827 he chose to close his eyes against the celebrations taking place in Christiania, but the following year he was himself present in the Norwegian capital on 17 May for the first time. The King expected trouble and gathered 20,000 troops just outside the city. The papers of the then Foreign Minister, Gustaf af Wetterstedt, show that the King was prepared to suspend Parliament and the Constitution and dictate a new constitution to his own liking if the MPs took part in the celebrations. However, Parliament decided not to mark the day and the King subsequently wrote to his son that he was relieved he had not “been forced to use the troops to prevent excesses”. At the State Dissolution of Parliament he warned the politicians that official celebrations of 17 May would also in the future be considered a provocation against the King, the Constitution and the union. In 1829 17 May fell on a Sunday and huge crowds came out on the streets of the capital. When they would not stop cheering and refused to disperse, Baron Ferdinand of Wedel-Jarlsberg, the commander of Akershus Fortress (and also Lord Chamberlain), gave orders for the cavalry to clear the Great Square, the act of (mild) violence which has passed into Norwegian history as “the Battle in the Square”. The King was not directly involved in this, as many seem to believe, but when the investigative committee published its findings the King resolved that no-one should be prosecuted. Most blame was put on the Lieutenant of the Realm, Baron Baltzar Bogislaus von Platen, who died a broken man a few months later (the position, which had by then become very unpopular, was left vacant for seven years). Ironically this heavy-handed treatment of the celebrators meant that the King had to tread more carefully in the future. In 1836 Parliament for the first time officially celebrated 17 May, but the King chose not to intervene – although this was one of the many actions of that Parliament which displeased the King and in combination led to his showing his displeasure by dissolving Parliament before it had finished its business. In 1839, the 25th anniversary of 1814, King Carl Johan was again in Christiania on 17 May, but had now resigned himself to the celebrations. In what was some sort of gentlemen’s agreement, the King allowed the celebrations to take place and the crowds made sure to do so in safe distance from the royal residence. King Carl Johan died in 1844 and already the next year his daughter-in-law, Queen Josephina, appeared in a window of the Royal Mansion with Prince Gustaf and Princess Eugénie to greet the crowds celebrating Constitution Day. However, the union kings generally made sure not to be in Norway on 17 May and although the children’s parade has passed by the Royal Palace ever since its inception in 1870, it was only in 1901 that Crown Prince Gustaf became the first member of the royal family to greet it from the Palace balcony. King Haakon and Queen Maud picked up the tradition when they came to Norway following the dissolution of the union in 1905. Since then the Palace balcony has been empty on only a handful of National Days: for obvious reasons from 1940 to 1944, but also a century ago this year when the royal family had not yet returned from the funeral of King Edward VII of Britain two days earlier. Following the Nazi surrender on 8 May 1945, Crown Prince Olav was back in Oslo already on 13 May and could thus resume the tradition once again. In the days of King Haakon the balcony could occasionally be quite crowded as he also allowed foreign royals to join the Norwegian royal family if they were in the country on 17 May. His brother, Prince Gustav of Denmark, did so in 1907 and his sister, Princess Thyra of Denmark, in 1929. In 1947 the Norwegian royals were joined by Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg of Sweden, which is quite interesting considering that Prince Carl had himself been a (reluctant) candidate for the Norwegian throne in 1905. In 1953 several royals had stayed behind following Princess Ragnhild’s wedding two days earlier and Princess Margaret of Britain, Prince and Princess Viggo from Denmark, and Count Flemming and Countess Ruth of Rosenborg joined their Norwegian relatives on the balcony. Princess Ragnhild herself made her last appearance there in 1958, joined by her son Haakon Lorentzen, while Princess Astrid has not appeared after her wedding in 1961. With the disappearances of the married princesses, the deaths of King Haakon and Crown Princess Märtha and Crown Prince Harald studying abroad, the Palace balcony suddenly became very empty and in 1961 and 1962 King Olav appeared alone. By the time of his death in 1991, King Olav had greeted the children from that balcony more than seventy times. Since King Harald in 2002 decided to make a distinction between the royal house and the royal family, only the five members of the royal house appear on the balcony, although Prince Sverre Magnus made a very brief appearance last year. Princess Ingrid Alexandra, who first appeared on the balcony at the age of four months in 2004, may well break her great-grandfather’s record. Her father, Crown Prince Haakon, has so far missed it six times – in 1977 (when he was ill), in 1992 (when he graduated from senior high school), in 1994 (when he was on military service in Bergen) and in 1997, 1998 and 1999 (when he was studying in the USA). These days there is no conflict between the monarch and Parliament and when passing the Parliament Building the children are also greeted by the Speaker of Parliament, Dag Terje Andersen, as seen in the last photo.
Trond Norén Isaksen is a Norwegian historian specialising in the history of monarchies, but also has a deep interest in politics and political history as well as the arts, particularly architecture.
I have a Master of Arts degree in modern history from the University of Oslo. I graduated in 2006 with the dissertation Halvt for Norge? - Bernadottene og det norske tronfølgespørsmålet, which dealt with the Swedish candidature to the Norwegian throne in connection with the dissolution of the union of crowns between Norway and Sweden.
I am the author of two biographies of members of the Norwegian royal family. The first was Dronningen vi ikke fikk,a biography of Crown Princess Märtha and King Olav V, which was published by Genesis forlag in 2003. The second, Kvinne blant konger, a biography of Norway’s former first lady Princess Astrid, was published by N. W. Damm & Søn (now Cappelen Damm) in 2007.
I am also co-author of the book about the Norwegian Royal Collection, Arv og tradisjon, edited by Anniken Thue and published by Orfeus Publishing in 2012.
I have also written more than 100 articles for various publications, including Politiken, Kunst og Kultur, Historie, Aftenposten, Historisk tidsskrift, Majesty,Byminner, Morgenbladet, The Court Historian, Personhistorisk tidskrift, Prosa, Dagsavisen, Klassekampen, St. Hallvard, Royalty Digest Quarterly, Dagbladet, British Politics Review, Heraldisk Tidsskrift, [Danish] Historisk Tidsskrift,The European Royal History Journal, Adresseavisen, Royalty Digest, Museumsbulletinen, VG, Trondhjemske Samlinger, Året i bilder, Värmlands museums årsbok and Fredriksstad Blad.
Dronningen vi ikke fikk - En biografi om kronprinsesse Märtha og kong Olav
My first book was a biography of Crown Princess Märtha and King Olav V, published in 2003 by Genesis forlag. It may be bought from Capris (external link) by clicking on the picture.
Kvinne blant konger - En biografi om prinsesse Astrid
My second book was a biography of Princess Astrid, published in 2007 by N. W. Damm & Søn. It may be bought from Capris by clicking on the picture (external link).
Complete list of my published works
112. “Sweden’s Grand Old Lady” (Majesty, Vol. 34, No. 5, May 2013).
111. “Queendom’s End” (Majesty, Vol. 34, No. 4, April 2013).
110. Untitled review of Gerd Steinwascher’s book Die Oldenburger. Die Geschichte einer europäischen Dynastie([Danish] Historisk Tidsskrift, vol. 112, no. 2).
109.“Bjørnson tilbød prins Eugen kongetronen” (Aftenposten, 8 MArch 2013).
108.“Erobret Fredrikstad i 1814” (Fredriksstad Blad, 23 February 2013).
107.“Kongen som erobret Norge” (Aftenposten, 27 January 2013).
106. “Dissident Princess” (Majesty, Vol. 34, No. 2, February 2013).
105. “Nidarosdomen som kroningskirke - En oppdiktet tradisjon” (Historie, no 4 - 2012).
91. “Royal Reformer” (Majesty, Vol. 33, No. 2, February 2012).
90. “Book review: The Four Graces: Queen Victoria’s Hessian Granddaughters” (Royalty Digest Quarterly, no 4 - 2011). 89. “Book review: Young Prince Philip: His Turbulent Early Life by Philip Eade” (Royalty Digest Quarterly, no 4 - 2011). 88. “The Oldest of the Bernadottes - Elsa Cedergren (1893-1996)” (Royalty Digest Quarterly, no 4 - 2011). 87. “Exhibition review: Ruling Through the Arts” (The Court Historian, Volume 16, 2, December 2011). 86. “Renaissance Queen” (Majesty, Vol. 33, No. 1, January 2012). 85. “Katedralen” (Prosa, no 5 - 2011). 84. “Dronning Mauds ikke så mystiske død” (Dagbladet, 7 November 2011). 83. “Kongelig ettergivenhet” (Aftenposten, 1 November 2011). 82. Untitled review of the books En dynasti blir till - Medier, myter och makt kring Karl XIV Johan och familjen Bernadotte, edited by Niklas Ekedahl, and Familjen Bernadotte - Kungligheter och människor, edited by Ingvar von Malmborg (Historisk tidsskrift, no 3 - 2011). 81. “Da Danmark forandret seg” (Dagsavisen, 20 September 2011). 80. “Kongens og dronningens kroner - Opprinnelse og anvendelse”, in Arve Sletten (ed.): Trondhjemske Samlinger2010 (Trondheim: Trondhjems Historiske Forening 2011). 79. “Den siste habsburger - Nekrolog Otto von Habsburg 20. november 1912-4. juli 2011” (Morgenbladet, 15-22 July 2011). 78. “Young Ingrid - Queen Ingrid of Denmark’s Early Years in Sweden” (Royalty Digest Quarterly, no 2 - 2011). 77. Untitled review of Thomas Lyngby’s, Søren Mentz’s and Sebastian Olden-Jørgensen’s book Magt og pragt - Enevælde 1660-1848(Historisk tidsskrift, no 2 - 2011). 76. “Carl III Johan - Carl XIV Johan? - Striden om unionskongenes ordenstall” (Personhistorisk tidskrift, no 1 - 2011). 75. “Borgerskapets inntog” (Dagbladet, 29 April 2011). 74. “Minner om et kongehus - Oscar IIs dynastiske utsmykkingsprogram” (Byminner, no 2 - 2011). 73. “Palassrevolusjonen” (Dagsavisen, 21 January 2011). 72. “Kongens nye hovedstad: Carl Johan, Christiania og arkitektene i Norges demring” (St. Hallvard, no 3+4 - 2010). 71. “Book review: Jean Baptiste Bernadotte. Revolutionsgeneral, Marschall Napoleons, König von Schweden und Norwegen by Jörg-Peter Findeisen” (Royalty Digest Quarterly, no 4 - 2010). 70. “Prince of Peace – Prince Carl of Sweden and the Nobel prize” (Royalty Digest Quarterly, no 4 - 2010). 69. “Exhibition review: Bernadotte’s Norwegian palace” (The Court Historian, Volume 15, 2, December 2010). 68. “Adel ved Bernadottenes norske hoff” (Historie, no 4 - 2010). 67. “Ingen ny Diana” (VG, 12 December 2010). 66. “Historiens lærdommer” (Klassekampen, 2 December 2010). 65. “Det undersköna Oscarshall - Hoffliv på sommerslottet 1855” (Langt Vest i Aker, no 40, December 2010). [Stolen by that publication from Byminner no 3-2010 and republished without permission, a violation of copyright laws which the editors Øivind Rødevand and Nils Carl Aspenberg have refused to apologise for]. 64. “Et parti som alle andre” (Dagsavisen, 22 November 2010). 63. “Slottets forbindelser til svensk og russisk arkitektur” (Kunst og Kultur, no 3 - 2010). 62. “Oslos fjerde grunnlegger” (Aften, 20 October 2010). 61. “Carl Johan som Norges konge - Maktkampen mellom konge og storting” (Historie, no 3 - 2010). 60. “Hvorfor deles den [Nobels fredspris] ut i Norge?” (Dagsavisen, 8 October 2010). 59. “Book review: Drottning Victoria av Sverige – Om kärlek, plikt och politik by Stig Hadenius” (Royalty Digest Quarterly, no 3 – 2010). 58. “A Broken Engagement – Frederik of Denmark and Olga of Greece” (Royalty Digest Quarterly, no 3 – 2010). 57. “Prinsessens tittel” (Aftenposten, 24 September 2010). 56. “Prinsessetittelen” (Aftenposten, 21 September 2010). 55. Untitled review of Herman Lindqvist’s book Jean Bernadotte - Mannen vi valde (Historisk tidsskrift, no 3 - 2010). 54. Untitled review of Carl-Erik Grimstad’s book Dronning Mauds arv (Historisk tidsskrift, no 3 - 2010). 53. “Tausheten etterpå” (Klassekampen, 14-15 August 2010). 52. “Grevinne Ruth av Rosenborg” (Aftenposten, 29 July 2010). 51. “Det undersköna Oscarshall - Hoffliv på sommerslottet i 1855” (Byminner, no 3 - 2010). 50. “Book review: En brud för kung och fosterland - Kungliga svenska bröllop från Gustav Vasa till Carl XVI Gustaf by Lena Rangström” (Royalty Digest Quarterly, no 2 - 2010). 49. “Ida Wedel Jarlsberg - Hoffrøkenen som var Ylajali?” (Historie, no 2 - 2010). 48. “Victorias arv” (Aftenposten, 20 June 2010). 47. “Oscarshall fra lystslott til luftslott – Kongelig bolignød 1929” (St. Hallvard, no 4 - 2009). 46. “Fru Schøller - hvor ble hun av?” (Adresseavisen, 29 May 2010). 45. “Arkitekten som formet hovedstaden” (Aften, 11 May 2010). 44. “Opposisjonens siste skanse” (Dagbladet, 29 April 2010). 43. “Dronning Ingrid og det moderne monarki” (Politiken, 28 March 2010). 42. “The Principality of Pontecorvo - Bernadotte’s Stepping Stone to the Throne” (Royalty Digest Quarterly, no 1 - 2010). 41. “Kongelig grensesetting” (Dagsavisen, 11 March 2010). 40. “Oscarshall har vært kongebolig” (Aften, 29 December 2009). 39. “[Prinsesse] Grete Sturdza” (Aftenposten, 8 December 2009). 38. “Kongevåpenet og 1905 – en kommentar til Hans Cappelens artikkel” (Heraldisk Tidsskrift, Volume 10, Issue 99, March 2009). 37. “Counts of Monpezat – Old Name Makes New Titles for Danish Royals” (Royalty Digest Quarterly, no 4 – 2008). 36. “Almost Queen of Sweden and Norway – Countess Maria Krasinska and the Last Days of Carl XV” (Royalty Digest Quarterly, no 4 – 2007). 35. “Kongelige titler” (Dagbladet, 4 December 2007). 34. “A British Queen of Norway” (British Politics Review, Volume 2, No. 4, Autumn 2007). 33. “En hån mot Christian Fred[e]rik” (Dagbladet, 20 October 2007). 32. “Astrid og Hendrix” (Dagbladet, 29 August 2007). 31. Kvinne blant konger – En biografi om prinsesse Astrid (Oslo: N. W. Damm & Søn 2007). 30. “An Eccentric Couple – Prince August and Princess Teresia of Sweden and Norway” (Royalty Digest Quarterly, no 1 – 2007). 29. “Denmark’s Scottish Princess – Anne Bowes Lyon” (Royalty Digest Quarterly, no 4 – 2006). 28. “Kongen Norge ikke fikk – Prins Carl av Sverige og det svenske kandidaturet til den norske tronen i 1905”, in Sune Åkerman and Ruth Hemstad (eds.): Skilsmässan som förde oss samman,Värmlands Museums årsbok 2006 (Karlstad: Stiftelsen Värmlands Museum and Värmlands Museiförening 2006). 27. Halvt for Norge? – Bernadottene og det norske tronfølgespørsmålet, 1850-1905 (MA dissertation in history, the University of Oslo, autumn 2006). 26. “Kongen vi ikke fikk – Prins Carl av Sverige og det svenske kandidaturet til den norske tronen i 1905” (Historie, no 2 – 2005). 25. “Norges siste unionsdronning” (Aftenposten, 10 July 2005). 24. “Ingrid Alexandra”, in Morten Malmø (ed.): Året i bilder (Oslo: N. W. Damm & Søn AS 2005). 23. “Count Lennart Bernadotte af Wisborg (1909-2004)” (Royalty Digest, No. 164, February 2005, Volume XIV, No. 8). 22. “Memories of Nine Decades: An Interview with Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg” (The European Royal History Journal, Issue XLII, Volume 7.6, December 2004). 21. “The Last Vasa: Queen Carola of Saxony” (Royalty Digest, No. 163, January 2005, Volume XIV, No. 7). 20. “Ingeborg, Princess of Scandinavia”, part II (The European Royal History Journal, Issue XL, Volume 7.4, August 2004). 19. “Jeanne de Tramcourt – A French Colibri at the Swedish Court” (Royalty Digest, No. 160, October 2004, Volume XIV, No. 4). 18. “Ingeborg, Princess of Scandinavia”, part I (The European Royal History Journal, Issue XXXIV, Volume 7.3, June 2004). 17. “Norway has a New Heiress – The Birth of Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway” (The European Royal History Journal, Issue XXXVII, Volume 7.1, February 2004). 16. “The Unknown Sister: Princess Margaretha of Denmark” (The European Royal History Journal, Issue XXXVI, December 20003). 15. “Mauds og Märthas dødsårsaker” (Dagbladet, 14 December 2003). 14. “Two Kings and Three Queens Bid Farewell to ‘Uncle Mulle’ – The Funeral of Prince Carl Bernadotte” (The European Royal History Journal, Issue XXXIV, August 2003). 13. “Obituary: Prince Carl Bernadotte, 1911-2003” (The European Royal History Journal, Issue XXXIV, August 2003). 12. “Konge uten dronning: Monarkiet under kong Olav manglet et viktig aspekt, det kvinnelige” (Dagbladet, 2 July 2003). 11. “The People’s King - The Centenary of King Olav V of Norway” (The European Royal History Journal, Issue XXXIII, April 2003). 10. “Kong Haakon og Hornsrud-episoden” (VG, 5 June 2003). 9. “Dronning Maud – tippoldemoren” (Historie, no 2 – 2003). 8. Dronningen vi ikke fikk – En biografi om kronprinsesse Märtha og kong Olav (Oslo: Genesis forlag 2003). 7. “Sibylla – Sweden’s Tragic Princess” (The European Royal History Journal, Issue XXX, November/December 2002). 6. “To dronninger” (Filologen, no 3 – 2002). 5. “Dronning av et århundre” (Historie, no 3 – 2002). 4. “His Excellency Count Flemming of Rosenborg (1922-2002)” (The European Royal History Journal, Issue XXVII, May/June 2002). 3. “Story of a Wedding – Princess Martha [sic] Louise of Norway and Ari Behn” (The European Royal History Journal, Issue XXVII, May/June 2002). [Published without my permission] 2. “Kong Gustaf Adolf var ikke nazisympatisør” (Dagbladet, 7 August 2002). 1. “Norges britiske dronning” (Filologen, no 1 – 2002).