Queen of Norway 1905-1938
Queen Maud was the first queen Norway had had alone since 1319. Originally a dainty princess imported from England, she is known to Norwegians for her style, her beauty, and her impossibly slender waist. Was there more to her than that? We shall see.
Maud Charlotte Mary Victoria was born on November 26, 1869, the fourth child of Albert Edward and Alexandra, later king and queen of England. She was loved, but domineered by her mother, and became so shy she was often referred to as "Her Royal Shyness" by those witty Englishmen.
Maud grew up at Sandringham in Norfolk, where her favourite pastimes were riding, cycling, and fox hunting. Her mother was not too pleased about her cycling, claiming it was not fitting for a princess, but young Maud remarked that people probably knew she had legs even if they never saw them. Alexandra had to accept her daughter's tomboyish behaviour, and eventually nicknamed her "Harry" because of it. Princess Maud was less comfortable in polite company than in nature.
Queen Alexandra was originally Danish, and the princesses often visited their relatives in Denmark. One of them, Prince Carl, eventually was so smitten with his cousin that in 1895, he asked Princess Maud to marry him. She happily accepted the poor lieutenant from the small country, not knowing that she was marrying the future king of Norway. If she had, she would probably have been more reluctant - shy people do not wish to be queens.
Maud much preferred her native country to her husband's, and the couple moved between Denmark and England. Their only son, Alexander, was born in Appleton House in Norfolk. Two years later, the little family set out from Copenhagen to go to Norway. They had been elected king and queen of Norway. Prince Carl became Haakon VII, while little Alexander became crown prince, later Olav V of Norway.
"Imagine! I am queen!! I am actually getting used to being called Your Majesty." (Queen Maud in a letter to her family)
The queen endured the publicity of the crowning and the many functions heads of state must attend. More happily she refurnished the royal castle, learned Norwegian, and enthusiastically began skiing, that most Norwegian of sports. She also had artistic tendencies, loving painting and photography all her life, and also once publishing a play, using a pseudonym. She loved children, both the privileged ones who lived around her home at Bygdøy near Christiania, and orphans, for whom she did charitable work.
Every autumn the queen would go to England and spend it at Appleton House. She died when in England in 1938, following a minor operation. She had been queen of Norway for 33 years. The queen was brought back to Norway and interred at Akershus fort.
Queen Maud, although not very much engaged in politics, fought for Norway's rights whenever she could. One of them was Norway's sovereignity over Greenland. Perhaps because of this, her name was given to Norway's sector of Antarctica, Queen Maud Land. In the royal family, her name lives on with the princess Astrid Maud Ingeborg, daughter of Olav V and Märtha, and Maud Angelica Behn, the infant daughter of Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn.