#RespectYourElders: Harald V, 83, is the King of Norway. He is the formal head of the Church of Norway and the Norwegian Armed Forces.
Harald V was born in 1937; the youngest of three children to Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Martha of Sweden. In 1940, their family fled Oslo because of the German invasion of WWII. His mother accepted an invitation from President Roosevelt to move to Washington D.C. She took Harald V and his sisters. His father and grandfather stayed in London with the Norweigan government-in-exile. Harald V learned to speak English in the states before returning to Norway following the end of the war.
In 1954, Harald V lost his mother to cancer. He went on to attend the Norweigan Military Academy and Balliol College in Oxford where he studied social science, history, and economics. Harald V reached the rank of captain in three branches of Norway’s armed forces. He was known for being an excellent athlete and a skilled yachter. Three years later after his mother’s death, Harald’s father became the king of Norway — making him crown prince.
As crown prince, Harald V worked closely with his father and often traveled with trade delegates to promote the Norweigan industry abroad. While being groomed to one day become king by his father, Harald V was also courting a commoner named Sonja Haraldsen. After dating for nine years and some controversy around marrying outside of royalty, his father finally approved the marriage. The couple had two children: Princess Märtha Louise and Crown Prince Haakon.
In 1991, King Olav passed away and Harald V acceded to the throne. He is the sixth king of Norway to be named Harald, and the first in 855 years. The position of the king in Norway is largely ceremonial. Harald V sanctions acts of legislation, helps choose the prime minister, travels to other countries, and consults frequently with private and public institutions. However, actual power lies with the prime minister and the parliament.
Symbolic or not, King Harald V is widely liked in the country he rules. 81 percent of the population supports him in the monarchy. This might be because he has sought to unify Norway during his 30-year reign. This includes reconciling with Norway’s indigenous Sami peoples and communist Partisans who fought against the Nazi occupiers during WWII. He’s also emphasized the importance of Norway being a multigender, multicultural and tolerant nation.
“It is not always easy to say where we are from, what nationality we are,” King Harald V delivered in a speech. “Home is where our heart is – and that cannot always be confined within national borders.”