Next year Norway will celebrate the bicentenary of its independence and the government yesterday announced (external link) that its jubilee present to Parliament will be a statue of King Christian Frederik, which will be erected in the middle of Eidsvoll Square in front of the Parliament Building.
Christian Frederik, the cousin of King Frederik VI of Denmark and Norway, was sent to Norway as Lieutenant of the Realm during the Napoleonic Wars and led the rebellion when Frederik VI on 14 January 1814 ceded Norway to the King of Sweden. Christian Frederik was persuaded to call a constituent assembly, which met at Eidsvoll in April and which passed the Constitution which is still in force on 16 May. Christian Frederik was himself elected King the following day. However, his reign turned out to be short, as Sweden attacked Norway in July. A ceasefire agreed in Moss in August led to negotiations which ended with Christian Frederik’s abdication and Sweden and Norway agreeing on an arrangement whereby Norway retained its independence and its constitution in a loose personal union with Sweden.
Christian Frederik, who eventually became King of Denmark as Christian VIII, was later chastised for not having fought harder, but eventually more and more people have come to realise that opening negotiations rather than fighting to the last drop of blood was probably what saved Norway’s independence and constitution.
The idea of a statue of King Christian Frederik was brought up already in time of the centenary in 1914, but nothing happened then. Two years ago the then Secretary General of Parliament, Hans Brattestå, stated that the Presidium had rejected the idea of erecting such a monument. However, this was overruled by the government last year, and the Minister of Culture, Hadia Tajik, has now revealed that the statue will be placed in front of the Parliament Building. This is, in my opinion, the best possible solution, and will correspond nicely with the statue of King Carl XIV Johan in front of the Royal Palace.
There will now be a competition among sculptors and it is intended that the statue will be unveiled before the bicentenary on 17 May 2014.
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