The announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate (in 25 minutes) is the only time each year one can count on the eyes of the international media being directed to Oslo. However, the question has often been asked why it is that the Peace Prize is awarded by a Norwegian institution while all the other Nobel prizes are awarded by Swedish institutions.
Alfred Nobel wrote in his will that the Peace Prize should be awarded by a committee appointed by the Norwegian Parliament, but offered no reasons why. Many differing explanations have been suggested over the years. While researching a coming article on Prince Carl of Sweden’s many nominations to the Peace Prize I may have found an answer to that question, which I publish in an article in Dagsavisen today (external link).
1936 was one of the three occasions on which Prince Carl was seriously considered for the Nobel Peace Prize. Seventeen of the childless Alfred Nobel’s closest relatives – all descendants of his siblings or married to descendants of his siblings – wrote to the Nobel Committee in support of the Prince’s candidature.
In their letters the Nobels wrote that their uncle had longed to “do away with misunderstandings between nations, first and foremost here in the Nordic region, where there, at the time Alfred Nobel made his will, to his grief was a strained relationship between Norway and Sweden”.
“He entertained a personal, strong sympathy for the Norwegian people”, they went on to write, “and through putting the award of the peace prize into its hands he wanted to bring about a good relationship to the Swedish fraternal people”. They added: “In no more beautiful way could he advocate his idea ‘reconciliation between the fraternal peoples’”.
Alfred Nobel drew up his will on 27 November 1895, towards the end of a year which had seen one of the severest crises of the Swedish-Norwegian union of crowns. He died a year later and thus did not live to see the union being dissolved in 1905.