Statue of Crown Princess Märtha
On this bike ride I stopped by the Norwegian Embassy to see the statue of Märtha Sofia Lovisa Dagmar Thyra, more commonly known as Crown Princess Märtha of Norway. The statue is located in front of the main residence on the grounds of the embassy, which is just off Massachusetts Avenue at 2720 34th Street (MAP) in northwest D.C.’s Embassy Row neighborhood.
Princess Märtha may be one of the only people in history to be born into a royal family, then cease being a member of that royal family before marrying back in to the same royal family once again. Princess Märtha was the daughter of Prince Carl of Sweden and Princess Ingeborg of Denmark. She was born on March 28, 1901, in Stockholm, just prior to the dissolution of the union of the United Kingdoms of Norway and Sweden in June of 1905. So for the first four years of her life, she was a Princess of Sweden and Norway. After the union of the sovereigns ended, she was no longer a princess of Norway, and became Princess Märtha of Sweden.
In March of 1929 following a year-long engagement, she married her cousin, Crown Prince Olav of Norway, in Oslo Cathedral, in the first royal wedding in Norway in 340 years. Thus, she once again became a Princess of Norway. They went on to have three children, Princesses Ragnhild and Astrid of Norway, and Prince Harald V, who eventually ascended to the thrown and is the current King of Norway.
When the Nazis invaded Norway in 1940, Princess Märtha and her children fled to her native Sweden. However, they were not well received by the Swedish people because it was felt that their presence could compromise Sweden’s neutrality. So at the invitation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the family came to the United States. However, she was not accompanied by her husband, Crown Prince Olav, who stayed with his father, King Haakon VII, and established a government-in-exile in England. After brief stays at Roosevelt’s private estate in Hyde Park, New York, and then the White House, the family purchased and moved into an estate in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside of D.C. However, she continued to maintain a close friendship with President Roosevelt after leaving the White House, and the family was often invited back and included in both private and public functions there.
When the war finally ended in 1945, Princess Märtha and the children returned to Norway, where they were reunited with Crown Prince Olav and King Haakon. She focused on helping Norway and the Norwegian people recover from the war, and spent the rest of her life working with many charities in Norway.
Following a lengthy period of ill-health, Princess Märtha died of cancer in Oslo in 1954. Her husband would go on to become King Olav V in 1957 until his death in January 1991. Since her death came approximately three years before her husband ascended to the throne, she never became a queen and will forever remain a princess. She was the princess of Norway from birth until the age of four, and then again from age 28 until her death. So during her lifetime her two tenures as a princess of Norway together lasted for 30 of her 54 years.
The bronze statue of Princess Märtha was sculpted by Norwegian sculptor Kirsten Kokkin, and was unveiled on September 18, 2005. It was a gift to the citizens of Norway from the Norwegian American Foundation on behalf of the Norwegian-American community in the United States. And if you can’t get to D.C. to see it, you have two other opportunities. Another cast of the statue is located at Palace Park in Oslo, Norway. It was unveiled by her son, King Harald V of Norway, on his 70th birthday in 2007. A third cast of the statue, located in Stockholm, Sweden, was unveiled in October of 2008.