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Re: Abdication in Norway 1956-57
Very interesting, thank you for taking the time to translate and post this.
Recently released papers of the long-serving Prime Minister Einar Gerhardsen (PM of Norway 1945-51, and 1955-65) sheds some light on the last years of King Haakon VII.
The papers are personal notes of the PM from his conversations with the King, the Crown Prince, the President of the Parliament and the King´s physician. They had been held separately from his other papers, and not released until now. An article by acclaimed journalist and author Harald Stanghelle in today's Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten sums up the most important. Below is a brief summary:
King Haakon had a serious fall in mid 1956, and Crown Prince Olav was appointed regent. The King did not feel well, and the PM had the impression he hinted about abdication, saying ´there should have been an age limit of 80 for monarchs´ in one of the meetings between the two.
The PM supported the idea, but did not tell the King right away. After discussing the matter with the President of the Parliament and the King´s physician, it appeared all three supported the idea. The King had by early 1957 lost some of his sight, did not hear well, and was generally quite infirm, living a very lonely life out of the eye of the general public. The physician had said to the Prime Minister that he though it would be better for the King to be released of the burden of Kingship.
In a later meeting between the King and the PM during winter 1957, the PM says in his notes that King Haakon was frail, in low spirit, and wanted to know whether abdication was something the people would want, as there had been some press articles about this. The Norwegian monarchy was new (the King had been ´chosen´ by the people in 1905), and there were no traditions of abdication, but it was assumed an abdication could set a precedent and the King himself said so in the discussions, but apparently did not himself reject the idea. The King was generally very concerned about the ´will of the people´, and asked his PM to voice whatever concern the people had about this. The PM (in his own words in the notes from the February meeting) felt for the old infirm man, told the King that he strongly rejected the notion that this was something the people wanted, and could not bear to give his own advise to abdicate.
There is also reference to a meeting with the Crown Prince (Olav), who did not appear to support the idea, asking what it would actually change, as he was already the Regent.
The issue of abdication did not come up again in later meetings between the King and the Prime Minister, and the King died as monarch in September that year.