Haakon VII of Norway

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Haakon VII (Prince Carl of Denmark and Iceland, born Christian Frederik Carl Georg Valdemar Axel) (3 August 1872 – 21 September 1957), known as Prince Carl of Denmark until 1905, was the first king of Norway after the 1905 dissolution of the personal union with Sweden. He was a member of the House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. As one of the few elected monarchs, Haakon quickly won the respect and affection of his people and played a pivotal role in uniting the Norwegian nation in its resistance to the attack and five-year-long Nazi occupation during World War II.

In Norway, Haakon is regarded as one of the greatest Norwegians of the twentieth century and is particularly revered for his courage during the German invasion - when threatening abdication if the government cooperated with the invading Germans - and his leadership and preservation of Norwegian unity during the Nazi occupation. He died at the age of 85 in 1957, after having reigned for nearly 52 years.

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Early years as a Danish prince

Originally known as Prince Carl of Denmark (namesake of his maternal grandfather the King of Norway etc.), he was the second son of (the future) King Frederick VIII of Denmark and his wife Louise, a younger brother of Christian X, a paternal grandson of King Christian IX of Denmark (during whose reign he was prince of Denmark), and a maternal grandson of King Charles XV of Sweden (who was also king of Norway as Charles IV). He became king of Norway before his father and older brother became kings of Denmark. During his reign, he saw his father, his brother and his nephew, Frederick IX, ascend the throne of Denmark, respectively in 1906, 1912 and 1947.

Prince Carl was born at Charlottenlund Palace near Copenhagen. He belonged to the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg branch of the House of Oldenburg. The House of Oldenburg had been the Danish royal family since 1448; between 1536–1814 it also ruled Norway when it was part of the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway. The house was originally from northern Germany, where the Glucksburg (Lyksborg) branch held their small fief. The family had permanent links with Norway beginning from the late Middle Ages. Several of his paternal ancestors had been kings of independent Norway (Haakon V of Norway, Christian I of Norway, Frederick I, Christian III, Frederick II, Christian IV, as well as Frederick III of Norway who integrated Norway into the Oldenburg state with Denmark, Slesvig and Holstein, after which it was not independent until 1814). Christian Frederick, who was King of Norway briefly in 1814, the first king of the Norwegian 1814 constitution and struggle for independence, was his great-granduncle.

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