Norwegian Monarchy: Royal Residences
Members of the Norwegian Royal Family reside in official residences around Norway. The royal family also possesses several privately owned holiday homes both inside and outside of Norway.
Norwegian Royal Palace in Oslo
King Harald and Queen Sonja have many official residences located all over Norway. The Royal Palace in Oslo is the main official residence of the monarch. It was built in the first half of the 19th century; King Carl Johan laid the foundation stone at the intended site of the altar in the Royal Chapel in 1825.
Many changes have been made to the Palace since it was first inhabited in the mid 1800's. The original roof was lowered, the wings were enlarged, and a temple-front with pillars was added to the main façade. Electricity was installed at the end of the 19th century. In the early 20th century, the Palace became more of a permanent residence for the royal family when apartments with bathrooms were installed.
The Royal Palace is one of the country’s most important buildings, and a concrete symbol of the course of Norwegian history since its construction began in 1814. The Royal Palace is where the daily work of the monarchy is conducted and where the King and Queen live. When the current King Harald took the throne in the early 1990's, it became apparent that a major renovation and modernization of the Palace was needed.
In 1993 the Royal Court presented a general plan for the renovation of the Palace, which was carried out in consultation with the Royal Family and representatives of the state, the Royal Court and the Directorate for Cultural Heritage. The work involved comprehensive and complicated changes. On 15 March 1999, 150 years to the day after the Lord Chamberlain took possession of the original building, the Directorate of Public Construction and Property was able to deliver a completely restored and renovated building. The Palace contains 173 rooms and covers a total area of 17,624 m².
The Bird Room: The Bird Room is one of the most well known rooms in the Royal Palace as it is the antechamber for those awaiting an audience with the King. Members of the Royal Family are also often photographed there on ceremonial occasions. The room gives the visitor the impression of being in an open garden pavilion. A rich variety of Norwegian birds perch here and there about the pavilion. There are 39 birds of 14 different species in the bird room, along with four butterflies hidden among the leaves.
Bygdø Royal Farm
The Bygdø Royal Farm is the oldest residence belonging to the Norwegian monarchy, having been owned or used by Norwegian monarchs almost continuously since 1305, when Haakon V Magnusson gave the property to his young Queen Eufemia. The farm itself dates back to the middle ages, when it was the property of the monastery on the island of Hovedøya, in the inner Oslo Fjord. King Carl Johan bought Bygdø Royal Farm from the state in 1837. The property remained in royal hands until 1863, when King Carl IV sold it back to the state. The Storting then placed it at the king’s disposal.
King Haakon VII and Queen Maud began using the farm as their permanent summer residence in 1905, where the Queen was free to pursue her interest in gardening. King Olav also spent the summers there until his death in 1991. The present King and Queen did not begin using the farm as their summer residence until after the rehabilitation of the main house and gardens, which was completed in 2007.
The mansion at Gamlehaugen was originally the home of statesman Peter Christian Hersleb Kjerschow Michelsen, who completed the residence around 1900. The property was acquired by the state after his death in 1925. The building was designed by architect Jens Zetlitz Monrad Kielland, and combines the qualities of a fortress and a castle. The building also contains a music room, library and winter garden, and is surrounded by a beautifully landscaped park.
Gamlehaugen main hall (left) and music room (right)
Sections of the building are open to the public during the summer months. One of the rooms available for viewing is Christen Michelsen’s office, containing a unique collection of the former prime minister’s memorabilia from 1905. The park is open to the public when the Royal Family is not in residence.
The mansion is the King's official residence in Bergen.
Stiftsgården is the King’s official residence in Trondheim. It has 140 rooms and is possibly the largest wooden building in Northern Europe. It has been used by royals and their guests since 1800.
Stiftsgården was built by Privy Councillor Schøller’s widow Cecilie Christine von Schøller between 1774 and 1778. It was built as a private residence, but sold to the state in 1800. During the 19th century Stiftsgården was chiefly used in connection with the royal coronations, since it was traditional for Norwegian kings to be crowned in Trondheim’s Nidaros Cathedral.
Stiftsgården has been the setting for the main festivities during the following coronations:
- King Carl III Johan, 1818
- King Carl IV and Queen Louise, 1860
- King Oscar II and Queen Sofie, 1873
- King Haakon VII and Queen Maud, 1906
as well as during the following benedictions:
- King Olav V, 1958
- King Harald V and Queen Sonja, 1991
The building consists of a main wing and two side wings, and is built of notched logs clad in weatherboarding. The interior reflects the redecorations carried out for the coronations during the 19th century and in 1906. A total rehabilitation of the building was completed in 1997.
Stiftsgården is open to the public during the summer.
Skaugum is the official residence of Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, his wife Crown Princess Mette-Marit, and their children. Skaugum is situated high above the town of Asker municipality, about 15 miles (24 km) southwest of Oslo. It originally belonged to the convent of the Church of Mary in Oslo, but was purchased by Government Minister Fritz Wedel-Jarlsberg in 1909 and was presented to Crown Prince Olav and Princess Märtha upon their marriage in 1929.
In 1930, the entire main building burnt down and had to be rebuilt. The shape of the current building was modeled closely after the original in order to reuse the undamaged foundation, and was completed in 1932. The new building was built out of brick instead of wood and the architect designed Skaugum as a home where family life takes precedence over official entertaining and events. The various rooms were also designed around the furniture that had been rescued from the flames.
It was renovated again in 2002, prior to Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit moving in.
Both Skaugum and Bygdøy are working farms producing grain, milk and meat where the profits are re-invested in the farms themselves.
The Royal Yacht
Time during the summer is spent on one of only two remaining Royal Yachts in Europe, KS Norge, the Royal Yacht of the King of Norway. The Royal Yacht was a gift from the people of Norway to King Haakon VII in 1947, purchased in the wake a nationwide collection effort. The ship is owned by His Majesty The King, but is manned and maintained by the Royal Norwegian Navy. The ship caught fire while in dry dock in 1985 - the repairs took about a year.
The yacht is used in part to support the King’s participation in regattas. The King and Queen also travel on board the Norge in connection with official engagements in Norway and abroad.