Maud, Queen of Norway (1869-1938)
Maud Charlotte Mary Victoria was born on 26 November 1869 at Marlborough House, London, and was the third daughter and fifth child of Edward VII and Alexandra of Denmark.
Maud’s godparents were her paternal uncle Leopold, Duke of Albany; Prince Frederick William of Hesse-Kassel; Victor of Hohenlohe-Langenburg; the Adelheid-Marie of Anhalt-Dessau; King Charles XV of Sweden; Princess Marie of Leiningen; her maternal aunt Maria Feodorovna of Russia; Crown Princess Louise of Denmark; and her great-grand aunt Cecilia, Duchess of Inverness.
As the youngest surviving child, Maud was lucky to have a less austere upbringing than her siblings and she was reportedly her father’s favourite child. Maud was a tomboy, which earned her the nickname of Harry, and she loved sports and horse riding. Maud and her siblings used to spend their summer holidays in Denmark and often went on cruises around Norway and the Mediterranean.
Maud was in her late twenties before she decided to find a husband and she set her sights on marrying Francis of Teck, the younger brother of her sister-in-law, Mary, however he ignored her advances. Instead Maud married her first cousin, Carl of Denmark, the second son of Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark and Louise of Sweden, on 22 July 1896. The newlyweds lived in Copenhagen, however they were given Appleton House on the Sandringham Estate as a wedding gift and their only child, Alexander, was born there on 2 July 1903.
The Union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved in 1905 and the Norwegian government offered the throne of Norway to Carl, partly due to Maud’s connections with the British royal family and the fact Carl was descended from ancient Norwegian kings. Norway had not had an independent monarch since 1387 and the fact Carl already had a son was also in his favour. Carl was flattered by the offer, however he insisted the Norwegian government hold a referendum to show whether they wanted a monarchy or wanted to be a republic. The results showed overwhelmingly in favour of retaining a monarchy and Carl was officially elected on 18 November 1905.
Carl chose to adopt the old Norse name of Haakon which immediately endeared him to the Norwegians and his family left Copenhagen on the Danish royal yacht, Dannebrog, on 23 November 1905. At Oscarsborg Fortress, they boarded the Norwegian naval ship, Heimdal, and arrived in Oslo (then Kristiania) three days later. Two days later, Haakon took his constitutional oath before parliament as Norway’s first independent king in 518 years.
The coronation took place in the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on 22 June 1906 and it was also the last to take place as the Norwegians felt the rites were too archaic. Afterwards, Haakon and Maud took an extensive tour around Norway before settling into the Royal Palace which took two years to refurbish. The Norwegians were excited to have Haakon as king and they were even more gratified when the royal couple announced their son was being renamed Olav. Although Haakon had considerable powers as king, he wisely left politics to the government and concentrated on promoting the interests of the country instead.
Although Maud would never cut her ties with Britain, she enjoyed her new duties as Queen Consort and was careful to show her support for Norwegian customs and culture. During the first years of their reign, the King and Queen engendered favour when they wore various Norwegian folk costumes and they involved themselves in charitable causes. Maud instigated the Dronningens Hjelpekomité (the Queen’s Relief Committee) during World War I and supported the feminist Katti Anker Møller’s home for unwed mothers (1906). Maud continued to live at Appleton House when she was visiting England and she designed English gardens at Kongsseteren, the royal lodge overlooking Oslo, and at the summer residence at Bygdøy.
Olav married his first cousin Märtha of Sweden on 21 March 1929 and they had two daughters, Ragnhild and Astrid, and one son, Harald. As the first heir to the throne to be raised in Norway since the Middle Ages, he received extensive military training and was raised as a Norwegian.
While visiting England in 1938, Maud became seriously ill with stomach pains and was taken to a clinic where she received emergency abdominal surgery. Maud survived the surgery, however she died of heart failure on 20 November with Haakon by her side. Maud’s body was returned to Norway where she was interred in the royal mausoleum at the Akershus Castle in Oslo. She was the last surviving child of Alexandra and Edward VII.