Sunday, March 16, 2008

Old Memories...3

When I was looking in my bookshelf for something to read, I found the biography of King Olav V. of Norway. He died in Jan. 1991, at the age of 88 years, after having suffered from several deseases. That was an experience I never had before. I was aware that the Norwegians loved their king very much, he was called a "folkekonge", which means that he was just like everybody that lived in his country. There were many stories told, such as he sometimes was seen in the "trikk" - tram, on his way to Holmenkollen ski center. Or in younger years he did cross-country in the Oslo area as anybody else. He always denied having bodyguards. His point was that there were 4 mill. Norwegian people taking care of him.
He was King of Norway for almost 34 years. His wife died in the early fifties, so that he unfortunately had to rule without a queen by his side. The Norwegian Royals live, as the country requires. This needs some review to Norwegian history. Originally it was a very poor country, since the landscape doesn't provide enough possibilities for farming. Only in the South agriculture is done. In the rest of the country, people had to live from fishing and hunting, but it never was enough for a good life, and in bad years people were starving. The result was that in e.g. 19th century many people emigrated preferably to the United States. But since Norway has access to the oil-sources in the Northsea, the country is wealthy, but still decent.
Coming back to the Royals. Well, the younger generation might be scandalous, but nothing compared to the Brits. Sometimes I think that Olav would turn over in his grave, but modern times are as they are. In his time Royals lived as idols and there was never a whiff of a scandal or something. His attitude was conservative as it was expected from a Royal.
When he died, I saw people standing in the street, crying and telling me, they could not believe that the King was dead. I carefully argued that he was old and sick and that people just die. And I still remember the answer of one lady: "That's all true, what you say, we know, and this is effective to everybody but not to our King." For his funeral many heads of state arrived in order to condole a person that had a worldwide respect. I saw a whole country lament their King and this was an experience I'll never forget, because this as well is something that we don't know.

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