Op-ed: The crown is non-returnable

Why King Harald should not abdicate


Photo: Emilie Holtet / NTB
Hanne-Agnethe Holmedal believes that the role of king is a lifelong commitment.

Hanne-Agnete Holmedal
Bergen, Norway

Bergens Tidende commentator Marie Misund Bringslid believes that the monarchy will be strengthened if the king abdicates. This is a fundamental misinterpretation of what our democracy is built on.

As the only privilege in Norway earned by birth, the role of monarch is a job that comes with great trust and importance for the Norwegian people. Therefore, it also comes with an enormous responsibility. A responsibility that lasts for life, not something you can return as you see fit.

In a world that is increasingly marked by conflict and unrest, it is more important than ever to have a head of state who stands firm through scandals, intrigues, and difficult times, independent of the government and the prime minister.

Although the crown prince will undoubtedly carry out his duties as king in an exemplary manner when the time comes, rarely do we need continuity and stability as much as we do now. After a year in which Norwegians’ trust in democracy has been put to the test, with politicians resigning in droves, it is important that the king remain in his position.

I fully understand that illness can get in the way of His Majesty’s duties. That is why I am happy that Crown Prince Haakon is proving to be a good substitute and is now gaining valuable experience for the day he becomes king.

This still does not weaken the king’s position in my eyes; rather, it suggests that he takes the responsibility entrusted in him by the people seriously. It shows that he is willing to live up to his promise—to do everything for Norway—until the end.

An overwhelming majority of the Norwegian people wants the king to remain in office; there is a clear expectation from us Norwegians that the monarch’s job is for life. I am glad that the king shows no signs of listening to Bringslid.

And if there were support among the people for the king to abdicate, this would only strengthen the argument that he should remain in office. Because the point that the king does not give in to fluctuations in public opinion is explicit. There is a clear difference between politicians who come and go—and the monarch who remains.

Hanne-Agnethe Holmedal is a working committee member in Vestland Unge Høyre (Vestland Young Conservatives) and deputy chair of the Høyre student organization in Bergen.

I am happy that the king is following the example of the late Queen Elizabeth II, who sat on the throne, through ups and downs, until she died at age 96. The respect and legitimacy the queen built up throughout her life helped to strengthen the British monarchy, in the same way that King Harald unites Norway—not in spite of, but because of, his age and long experience.

King Harald should certainly not abdicate; he should carry out his job as best as he can—and seek help when needed. After all, the saying goes, “The king is dead, long live the king,” not “The king has abdicated, may the next king sit as long as he would like.”

This article first appeared in the Jan. 22, 2024, edition of Bergens Tidende and is reprinted with permission. 

Translation by Ragnhild Hjeltnes

This article originally appeared in the March 2024 issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.