In the summer of 2016 the 25th anniversary of the consecration of His Majesty King Harald V and Her Majesty Queen Sonja was celebrated throughout Norway. A series of events such as concerts, exhibitions and garden parties were held all over the country as well as the King and the Queen travelled extencively, meeting thousands of Norwegians.

After having portrayed King Harald, his father and grandfather as "The Kings of the Liberation" in 2015, Kolby in the spring of 2016 was asked to artisticly portray the consecration day in the Nidaros Catherdral in Trondheim in 1991. The painting was to be a gift from the company Samlerhuset to The Crown Regalia Museum by the cathedral.

Kolby wanted to capture a number of elements in the painting and decided to present a symbolic portrait of the King and the Queen by painting the very symbols of them. Their crowns.

The coronation of King Carl XIV Johan in Nidarosdomen Cathedral in Trondheim on September 7th 1818. Painting by Jacob Munch. (Copyright: The Royal Palace, Oslo)

The word "crown" derives from the Latin "corona" which means wreath. The crown has been used as a symbol of power and majesty for thousands of years, and had its origin in Asia and was adopted in ancient Europe.  

From the 1370's to 1814 Norway was in a union with Denmark under the Danish monarch. With the loss of the Napoleon wars Denmark in 1814 had to transfer the ruling of Norway to Sweden, and King Carl III Johan suddenly became the sovereign also of Norway. This prompted the need for a coronation and the King ordered a new crown for his Norwegian coronation. The King's crown was manufactured in Stockholm in 1818 for the ceremony that took place four years later, on September 7th 1818 in Nidarosdomen Cathedral.

Nidarosdomen Cathedral in 1821. Drawing by Carl Johan Fahlcrantz. (Copyright: Trondheim City Archive)

Carl XIV Johan was originally a French general, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, from Napoléons army. He had made himself a good reputation during the Napoléon wars and was, after a complicated and slightly confusing process, in 1810 offered the Swedish throne, but as the Crown Prince.

Jean Baptiste Bernadotte as Crown Prince in 1811. Painting by Francois Gérard. (Copyright: Wikipedia)

The Swedish King at the time Carl XIII had no living heir, and the Swedes hoped Bernadotte as Crown Prince and future King could strenghten the political bonds between France and Sweden, and at Carl XIII's death in February 1818 Bernadotte took the name Carl XIV Johan. But his wife Désirée, Napoléon's former fiancée, did not fancy the cold of the northern countries and did not arrive in Stockholm until 1829.

In 1830 the King ordered a crown also for Desirée's Norwegian crowning, but it never took place. Both the crowns were, however, used at the following Norwegian coronations and consecrations through the ages - and still are today. The last King and Queen bearing the crowns and other regalia were King Haakon VII and Queen Maud at their coronation in Nidarosdomen Catheral in 1906.

King Haakon VII and Queen Maud at Stiftsgaarden just after the coronation in the cathedral Nidarosdomen. (Copyright: The National Library)

By the first years of the 1900's the restaration of the cathedral had come so far that the great church ship again had risen and the west front was fully up. The coronation of Norway's first own King and Queen in more than 500 years took place in a cathedral more impressive than in centuries.

The west front of the cathedral fully restored. (Copyright: Asbjorn Djupdal)

The Norwegian Parliament ended the nearly 1,000 year long tradition of coronations in 1910 after the coronation of King Haakon and Queen Maud. As King Olav V inherited the throne in 1957 he wished to held a religious ceremony in the same cathedral where his predecessors had been crowned, and choosed the consecration.

Also King Harald V and Queen Sonja kept this tradition when they inherited the throne in 1991. In the consecration ceremony the crowns are placed at the side of the King and Queen but not anymore on their heads.

HM King Harald V and HM Queen Sonja by the altar with their crowns on the pidestals. (Copyright: NTB)

The crowns have been part of many a painting through this time, but always on the King's and Queen's head as a minor detail and never as a focal point. Kolby changed this in his symbolic vision by for the first time giving the two crowns the leading roles without their Royals, as well as for the first time paint the regalia in size 1:1.

In Kolby's painting Norway's royal crowns lie in a mythical landscape. The symbols of the King and the Queen each rest on their consecration pillow on top of the Norwegian bedrock. The mountain sombolizes the immovable end eternal Norway, regardless of the unions with Denmark and Sweden.

Over the crowns a majestic, starry night rules, symbolizing the term "The 400 year night" which is often used to describe the four centuries from ca. 1380 to 1814 when Norway was in a political union with Denmark.

The constellation of stars is astronomical correct the very same as the one above Nidarosdomen Cathedral in the night of June 23rd 2016 - the day of the 25th anniversary of Their Majesties' consecration. Into the mountain a fish is carved; the symbol of Jesus Christ and the Church. It represents the religious aspect of the consecration.

Through cracks in the rocks in front of the crowns Norway's national flower rosslyng grows. They symbolize the emergence of the new democracy of the monarchy Norway in 1814, when it left the union with Denmark and implied a new and own constitution.

The King's crown was made by goldsmith Olof Wihlborg in Stockholm in 1818, and is made of 20 carat gold. It weighs 1,5 kilo and is richly decorated with a giant green turmaline in the front, that allegdely was a gift to King Carl XVI Johan from the Brazilian consul in Stockholm. Furthermore the gemstones are amethysts, opals, peridots, chrysopases, topazes, sapphires and emeralds.

There are as well 50 fresh water pearls along with tiny crowns sewns on the purple velvet on the crown's cap. The orb on the top of the crown is made of blue enamel with golden stars and white fresh water pearls. As the crown and its orb are thousands of years old, the orb symbolized the blue planet earth covered with stars. The planet is divided in three sectors by the pearls, symbolizing the three continents that were then known to Man: Europe, Africa and South America.

The Queen's crown was made by the goldsmiths Erik Lundberg and Marc Giron in Stockholm in 1830 for the planned coronation of Carl Johan's wife Désirée. But the coronation never took place, and the crown was first used by Queen Louise at her coronation in 1860.

The crown weighs 0,6 kg and is made of silver with gold guildings. The gemstones are amethysts, citrines, chrysophrases, topazes and fresh water pearls. Sewn onto the crown's purple cap are numerous tiny pearls as stylized flames.

"Consecration morning" was unveiled in the mighty cathedral Nidarosdomen in November 2016 as the last arrangement in the year of the celebration of Their Majesties. Numerous guests attended the ceremony before the painting was transported to the nearby Crown Regalia Museum where it is at permanent display.

Kolby in Nidarosdomen Cathedral before the unveiling. (Copyright: Samlerhuset)
After the unveiling. From left: Kolby, the Chairwoman of the Crown Regalia Committee Anne Kathrine Slungard, the Director of Nidaros Domkirkes Restaureringsarbeider Steinar Bjerkestrand and founder of Samlerhuset Ole Bjorn Fausa. (Copyright: NDR)

Norway's public broadcaster NRK covered the unveiling with this article.

NRK has also published the following article about the Norwegian Crown Regalia.