His Majesty the King's Guards
) was raised in 1856, when King Oscar I
expressed a wish to have a Norwegian guard
to underline his position as monarch
of both countries. A company of 100 men was recruited and trained during the summer of 1856, and arrived in Stockholm
, the capital of Sweden, on November 1 - the date on which the regiment's formation is commemorated every year
The regiment's duties are guard and ceremonial functions in peace-time and the security of the Royal Family in crisis or war. The rifle companies and the escort company normally take turns doing guard duty for a week and carry out regular training in between. Training includes the specialised techniques relating to the mission of safeguarding the Royal Family in time of war as well as the usual infantry work, live firing exercises, etc.
This entails a hectic training schedule for the guardsmen during their 12 months of national service. On arriving at the battalion from basic training, they spend their first five weeks in ceaseless drill practice, hand-to-hand fighting, physical training, close range firingand case solving excercises before they are allowed to perform their first duties outside the royal palace or around the Royal Family's country residence. The changing of the guard ceremony in front of The Palace takes place at 1330-1400 hours every day and is a popular event with tourists and the people of Oslo alike. The dark blue dress uniforms have remained virtually unchanged throughout the regiment's 141 years of existence. One noteworthy detail of the uniform is the plumed bowler hat, which was copied from the hat of the Italian bersaglieri alpine troops - a regiment that so impressed the Swedish princess Louise (the great grandmother of HM King Harald V) that she insisted the Norwegian guards be similarly hatted in 1860. In addition to performing guard duty, the Guards is also on parade whenever important state events take place in the capital. These include the annual opening of parliament by HM the King, visits by foreign heads of state, or anniversaries of major events in the history of the nation. The Guards contribute to the civilian community through their support of the hugely popular annual Holmenkollen Ski Festival, a week of skiing competitions in Oslo's Holmenkollen arena.