Today marks the Anniversary of the Birth of Crown Princess Märtha of Norway, who was born on this day in 1901! The daughter of Prince Carl of Sweden, Duke of Västergötland, and Princess Ingeborg of Denmark, she was born a Princess of Sweden AND Norway, since the two kingdoms were in a personal union until 1905. Her sisters were Princess Margaretha of Sweden and Denmark and Queen Astrid of Belgium, also making her the aunt of King Baudouin and King Albert II of Belgium as well as Grand Duchess Joséphine Charlotte of Luxembourg. Princess Märtha was also the cousin of both, King Frederik IX of Denmark and Princess Ingrid of Sweden (later Queen of Denmark), and close to the both of them.
In 1929, Princess Martha married her first cousin, Crown Prince Olav of Norway, son of King Haakon VII and Princess Maud of Wales, in a series of lavish celebrations in Stockholm and Oslo. The couple had three children; Princess Ragnhild, Princess Astrid, and Prince Harald, and resided at Skaugum near Oslo. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess enjoyed a close family life while also undertaking Official Visits to Britain, Sweden, Denmark, and the United States, taking on more duties after Queen Maud’s death in 1938, leaving only the two of them alongside King Haakon as members of the Royal Family.
During the Nazi Occupation of Norway in WWII, Crown Princess Märtha and the children fled first to Sweden and then, under extreme pressure, to the United States, while her husband and father-in-law established a government-in-exile in London. In Washington D.C, she formed a close friendship with President Roosevelt (which has been dramatized in ‘Atlantic Crossing’), and toured around the country for the Norwegian War effort, becoming a major symbol of the Norwegian Resistance.
After the liberation of Norway in 1945, Crown Princess Märtha served as the First Lady of the Kingdom, attending many royal events like the Inauguration of Queen Juliana of The Netherlands in 1948 and the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, but died after a long battle with cancer in 1954, three years before her husband succeeded to the throne as King Olav V.
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