24 April 2024

The Norwegian Royal Court. Annual Report 2023

The Norwegian Royal Court's annual report for 2023 was published on 18 April 2024. As the Royal Court writes on its website, the report "provides an account of the official activities of the Royal Family and the operation of the Court during the previous year" and "is intended to provide better information about and increase understanding of the activities of the Royal House of Norway and the Royal Court". As I write almost every year when I comment on the annual report, the publication is a great compensation for the lack of the former royal yearbooks. You get a very good summary of the activities of the royal family during the year in question, and  in addition you get lots of great pictures and statistics.

The Royal Court has provided the following summary of the report:

Annual report for 2023

The activities of the Royal House of Norway over the course of the year are closely aligned with the current situation in the country. The visits by the members of the Royal Family to 47 municipalities, official visits to five European countries, participation in a wide array of events together with the Norwegian Armed Forces and a focus on national security and preparedness both show what is essential for Norway and demonstrate the commitment of the Royal Family.

In 2023, members of the Royal Family continued to meet people throughout Norway – at schools, at new start-ups and traditional industrial companies, in museums and churches, at primary industry businesses, at music and drama festivals, at sporting events. They also visited with many of the people who experienced the devastation of Storm Hans in August.

Activities in 2023 were framed by the security situation in Europe. The King and the Crown Prince carried out a number of activities and visits with the Norwegian Armed Forces. The visit of the US aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford to Oslo in May, and of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the Palace in December, both point to the serious events taking place in the world at large, and the importance of constructive cooperation with trusted allies. Internationally, the Royal Family represented Norway in Denmark, the UK, France, Sweden and Germany. Topics highlighted during these visits included the green transition, defence and industrial development and cooperation in the cultural sphere.

The year also held milestone events for the Royal Family. In 2023 the Crown Prince and Crown Princess both celebrated their 50th birthdays. They wanted to mark the occasion by celebrating Norway and the Norwegian sense of community by acknowledging the many people who help to make Norway what it is. They spent the year travelling to different places in Norway and in August they invited 370 guest from across the country to a party in the Courtyard of the Royal Palace.

Annual accounts

The accounts for the Civil List showed a calculated deficit of NOK 54.3 million in relation to the 2023 allocation. This deficit will be covered by previously allocated funds. The result is in keeping with the anticipated charges to expenses projected in the annual report for 2022. 

The deficit has its origin in the lag between allocations to and disbursements from the Palace security project. In 2023, the project accounts showed a calculated deficit of NOK 70.9 million (cf. the corresponding surplus of NOK 92.7 million for 2022). Commissioned in 2016, the security project was by and large concluded in 2023. Security enhancement of the perimeter of the Palace and Palace Park was completed, and the logistics building, which ensures safe handling of mail, goods and waste, was opened. A few minor tasks that remain under the project will soon be concluded.

The management accounts for the Royal Court show a surplus of NOK 16.5 million. This surplus is largely due to vacant posts and postponement of projects as a result of an ongoing organisational development process. The accounts show that a significant proportion of the ordinary appropriations are used for operation and maintenance of the Palace and other Royal residences, as well as the cultural and historical assets these encompass.

The annual report and accounts of the Royal Court for 2023 have been submitted to the Presidium of the Storting, the Ministry of Digitalisation and Public Governance, and the Office of the Auditor General of Norway.


Every year when the report is being published the Norwegian media tend to focus on the budget and nothing else. When the report this year showed a calculated ("planned") deficit of NOK 54,3 million, the media omitted the word "calculated" in the headlines, hoping that the readers wouldn't care to read the article, or the report itself, to get the details. It happens every year when there is a deficit. Then people will get the impression that the royal court – or the royal family – is out of control.

The report showed that the members of the royal family had 756 engagements ("oppdrag") in 2023, while the number was 769 in 2023, 635 in 2021 and 381 in 2020. The two last-mentioned years was of course dominated by the pandemic. In 2019 the number of engagements was 723. In other words, the number of engagements have not changed much, but considering the fact that the king will scale down his activities due to his age, that the queen is also of old age and the crown princess has chronical health issues, the number might fall a bit in 2024. Obviously the crown prince will not be able to cover all the things the king has normally taken care of. Fellow historian Trond Norén Isaksen has done some calculations and found out that King Harald in 2023 had 55 engagements outside the Royal Palace, as compared to 92 in 2013. Obviously his health and age are the reasons for this.

The report also tells that the members of the royal family visited 9 counties (out of 11, from 2024 the number of counties have gone up to 15), 47 municipalities, they have made official visits to Denmark, France, Greece, Jordan, United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany and have hosted as many as 2 735 guests.

But what about the orders and medals? 12 people were awarded the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav in 2023, as compared to 17 in 2022 and 2021. Among the 12 were Prince Sverre Magnus and the then Prince Christian of Denmark, who both received the Grand Cross. The order is conferred as "a reward for distinguished services rendered to Norway and mankind".

53 people received  the Royal Norwegian order of Merit in 2023, all classes combined, compared to 34 people in 2022, 56 in 2021, 89 in 2020 and 57 in 2019. Not sure what to read into the increase. It varies a bit from one year to another. According to the official website, the Order of Merit is conferred on foreign and Norwegian nationals as "a reward for their outstanding service in the interest of Norway". Most of the recipients are diplomats, mostly ambassadors and honorary consuls. Bishop and Preses of the Bishops' Conference of the Church of Norway, Olav Fykse Tveit, who became a commander, was one of the exceptions.

The Medal of St. Olav is conferred as "a reward for services in advancing knowledge of Norway abroad and for strengthening the bonds between expatriate Norwegians and their descendants and their country of residence". In 2023 only one person, farmer Ole P. Gamme from Gran, county of Innlandet (formerly Oppland), received the medal, compared to two people in 2022. Gamme is known for his impressive efforts through many years of promoting knowledge of Norway in the Norwegian-American communities in the USA, and to establishing contact between emigrant Norwegians in the USA and their relatives in Norway. He has among others also built a very impressive database of emigrants from Hadeland and in this way helped a lot of Americans finding their roots at Hadeland.

The King's Medal of Merit is conferred as "a reward for service in the fields of art, science and industry and for outstanding public service". 68 people redeived the medal in 2023, as compared to 53 in 2022, 47 in 2021 and 46 in 2020. Among the 68 were the artist Finn Kalvik, rose painter Hjørdis Emilie Juvik and several teachers.

The King's Commemorative Medal "is conferred for particularly meritorious service to His Majesty the King", but "may also be conferred on foreign nationals in connection with state visits and visits of the King abroad, on those who have served at a Norwegian foreign service mission, and on others in recognition for special services". The medal is conferred in silver or gold. In 2023, 7 people got the medal in gold, while 23 people were awarded the medal in silver. In 2022 the numbers were much lower - 3 gold medals and 6 silver medals. Several people connected to the king's staff received the medal in 2023 and 2022.

Previous articles on the subject of the Norwegian Royal Court's annual report:

I started the blog in 2009. The first annual report was published by the court in 2005. Previously all there were links to all the reports here, but now only the reports from 2020 to 2023 are available. You may, however, contact the court and ask for earlier reports if you are interested.

Front cover: © 2023 (?) Eskil Wie Furunes/NRK.

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