Thursday 3rd December 2015 the lights on Oslo’s Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square were lit. An enthusiastic crowd sang the national anthems of Norway and the UK. Norwegian Soprano, Ann-Helen Moen, sang ‘Silent Night’ in both Norwegian and English. Then Princess Astrid switched on the lights [on youtube here]. So our thanks go to Norway for London’s nice Christmas present again this year.
We’re reminded that Princess Astrid [b1932], 83, is daughter of King Olav of Norway [1903-1991] and his wife, Princess Martha [1901-1954]. The marriage produced three children: Norway’s present King Harald V, [b.1937] Princess Astrid [b1932]and Princess Ragnhild [b1930].
The Norwegian government and parliament refused to accept a German ultimatum to form a new government under Nazi control. Widowed King Haakon VII [1872-1957] and son Olav [1903-1991] were forced to leave Norway and were evacuated to Scotland by sea, and then on to London where a government in exile was established. King Haakon and Olav lived in exile at the Norwegian Embassy in Kensington Palace Gardens 1940-1945, while Princess Martha (Olav’s wife) took the three children to Washington DC, USA, at the invitation of President Franklin D. Rooseveld.
A blue plaque to mark the years Haakon and Olav were at the Embassy was unveiled by Princess Astrid in 2005, timed for the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Throughout the war, 1940-1945, the headquarters of the Norwegian Government-in-Exile were at nearby Kingston House North, Princes Gate. A plaque there marks their presence. See on google streeet view here.
The Royal families of Norway, Sweden, Denmark and UK are all related through Queen Victoria.
The Norwegian Navy and Merchant Fleet presented a large granite boulder in 1978 as thanks for British support during World War 2. The memorial consists of a boulder of pre-Cambrian granite, mounted on three smaller stones. The front is engraved: “You gave us a safe haven in our common struggle for freedom and peace”. The back reads: “Worked and shaped by forces of nature for thousands of years“.
A gift of a Babtism Font from the Norwegian Airforce is in the crypt of Clements St Danes, the “Airforce” church, as on this blog here.