Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Haakon VII, King of Norway (1872–1957)

Title: Haakon VII
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Born on 3 August 1872 at Charlottenlund Castle near Copenhagen, Denmark, Prince Charles was the second son of the future King Frederik VIII of Denmark. Charles was educated by private tutors and entered the Danish navy at age 14. In 1893, he became an officer, and in 1896 he married Princess Maud of Great Britain, daughter of King Edward VII. They had one son, Alexander, later renamed Olaf. Norway declared independence from Sweden in 1905 and Charles was elected its constitutional monarch, choosing the Norwegian title of Haakon VII.

Haakon worked to establish a modern monarchy. His motto was "All for Norway." He hoped Norway could remain neutral during World War II, but when the Germans invaded his country in April 1940, Haakon rejected demands that he appoint pro-Nazi Vidkun Quisling as premier and urged his people to resist. Haakon reluctantly left Norway aboard a British warship on 7 June 1940 with his son Olaf and members of the Storting (parliament) for exile in Britain. As head of the Norwegian government in exile, Haakon spoke to his people via radio, explaining that the Norwegian constitution allowed him to wage war against the Germans from abroad and refusing to abdicate. During the rest of the war, Haakon was heavily involved in the resistance movement; he became both Norway's symbol of resistance and its rallying point.

Haakon was warmly welcomed on his return to Oslo on 7 June 1945, exactly five years from his departure and the fortieth anniversary of Norway's independence. His spirited wartime activities had created a strong bond between him and his people. Haakon spent the immediate postwar years helping with reconstruction. He also dispensed with the formalities of court life, endearing himself further to the Norwegians. This well-loved "people's king" died at Oslo on 21 September 1957. He was succeeded by his son, who reigned as Olaf V.

Annette Richardson


Further Reading
Derry, Thomas K. A Short History of Norway. London: G. Allen and Unwin, 1957.; Greve, Tim. Haakon VII of Norway: Founder of a New Monarchy. Trans. Thomas Kingston Derry. London: Hurst, 1983.; Michael, Maurice Albert. Haakon, King of Norway. London: Allen and Unwin, 1958.
 

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