23 January 2010

Harry & Charles in the National Archives

I never got the time to watch the TV series "Harry & Charles" which NRK broadcasted last Christmas. The TV series dealt with Prince Carl and Princess Maud and the events of 1905 which lead to the election of Prince Carl as King of Norway on 18 November 1905.

Most people I have talked with say that I didn't miss much and that I probably saved myself of much annoyance because fiction dominated the TV series rather than the facts. Obviously I am not going to buy the book that has been published following the TV production.

Far more interesting is the little exhibit the Norwegian National Archives created in connection with the TV Series. In the exhibit named "Harry & Charles - Maud og Carl" the National Archives presents five documents in connection with the royal election.

The first document is the telegram in which the Storting informs Prince Carl of his election as King of Norway. The second document presents Prince Carl's acceptance of the election and his choice to take the name Haakon for himself and the name Olav for his son Prince Alexander.

Prince Carl's grandfather, King Christian IX, had to give his consent, and the third document is the telegram from the President of the Storting, Carl Berner, to the King of Denmark where he informs of the royal election and that the Storting would send a deputation to Copenhagen to formally ask the king for his consent.

The fourth document shows how Fritz Wedel Jarlsberg assisted Prince Carl in preparing his acceptance of the royal election. Wedel Jarlsberg was the Norwegian Government's unofficial envoy to Stockhoolm, Copenhagen and London in several periods during 1905.The pompeous diplomat was often too outspoken, which lead to his replacement by his relative Frithjof Nansen.

The fifth and last document shows Fritz Wedel Jarlsberg's role as a messenger on 18 November 1905. Wedel Jarlsberg had quite a busy time in Copenhagen in the afternoon and evening of 18 November. The telegrams that the Storting and the Norwegian Government sent concerning the royal election were according to the agreement delivered to him. Then it was his task to bring them to the addressees, Prince Carl and King Christian, something Wedel Jarlsberg tells about in his memoirs.

In his memoirs he also tells that Prince Carl's reply was given by telephone to Prime Minister Christian Michelsen, as it was shown in the TV series. The archived telegram was in other words just a written confirmation of the reply. But according to Wedel Jarlsberg it was himself, and not Prince Carl, who forwarded the prince's message by phone.


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