I have been too busy lately to find time to update this blog regularly, but one piece of news from last Friday surely deserves to be mentioned: The King has appointed Gry Mølleskog Lord Chamberlain, thereby making her the first woman in Norway - and as far as I know also in Europe - to hold the top position at the royal court. Mølleskog will take over in the summer from Åge B. Grutle, who was been Lord Chamberlain since 2009 and was appointed Ambassador to Finland in the Council of State on Friday.
Mølleskog, who is 53 years old, was chief of staff to the Crown Prince and Crown Princess from 2003 to 2006, when she left to pursue a business career. She was Senior Vice President of SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) and Senior Client Partner of the recruitment company Korn/Ferry, but returned to the royal court in 2012, when the Crown Prince and Crown Princess's office merged with the office of the King's Private Secretary to form the Royal Secretariat and Mølleskog became Chief of Staff and head of the secretariat.
The creation of a joint staff for the King and Queen and the Crown Prince and Crown Princess was a significant step that intended to make the future transition from Harald V to Haakon VIII as smooth as possible. The King will not abdicate, but while King Olav remained the absolute head of the monarchy until the very end, King Harald has turned it into a teamwork, first between himself and the Queen and in the past fifteen years also including the Crown Prince and Crown Princess in the making of all major decisions (although the King retains the last word).
The fact that Gry Mølleskog will (probably) be King Harald V's last Lord Chamberlain can also be seen as a testimony to the feminisation of the monarchy and the royal court that has taken place in his reign. King Olav's court was almost exclusively male - it was only after 25 years that a female Assistant Private Secretary was appointed in 1982 - while the royal household of the current reign has been more or less equally balanced between genders. While King Olav's household consisted almost entirely of officers, the court of Harald V has been recruited from a wider base. The highest court position held by a woman before Mølleskog was that of Private Secretary, which was held from 2000 to 2012 by Berit Tversland, who began her career in the royal household as governess to the then Prince Haakon and Princess Märtha Louise in 1977.