Wednesday, 26 January 2011


Royal Freeman HM King Harald V of Norway
Although making claims in the world of the London livery companies is a dangerous enterprise I think we are currently the only Company that has two reigning monarchs as freemen: HM the Queen and HM King Harald V of Norway.

King Harald is the third generation of his family to be free of the Company.  His grandfather, Prince Carl of Denmark, was admitted to the Company in 1896 when he married Princess Maud, the youngest daughter of the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.  Prince Carl went on to become Haakon VII,  the first king of the modern Kingdom of Norway when it peacefully separated from Sweden in 1905.  His son Olaf was, in his turn, free of the Company and his son, now Harald V, was admitted in November 1960.

Six degrees below and the Royal Palace, Oslo is surrounded by a light dusting of snow.  Unlike royal palaces in Britain you can walk right up to the front door.
This resulted in a party of four, Master Warden Tony Walker, Renter Warden Christian Williams, our Clerk, Alastair Ross, and myself having an audience with the king on Friday 21 January at the Royal Palace in Oslo to present a humble address marking the fiftieth anniversary of his admission.

The Humble Address illuminated on vellum commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of King Harald V of Norway being free of the Company.  This work was beautifully and most skillfully carried out by Timothy Noad.
The humble address on vellum contained the following wording agreed by the Court:

'The Master, Wardens and Brethren and Sisters of the Worshipful Company of Drapers of the City of London send fraternal greetings to His Majesty King Harald V of Norway and offer the Company's warmest congratulations on his fiftieth anniversary as a Freeman of the Company.

The Company is deeply proud of its continuous association with the Royal Family of Norway since 1896 when His Majesty's Grandfather His Majesty King Haakon VII (As His Royal Highness Prince Carl of Denmark) became a Freeman of the Company and we trust and hope this long association may long continue.

It is our fervent wish that we will have the opportunity of welcoming His Majesty back to Drapers' Hall before too long.'

In the Bird Room of the Palace which is the ante-room to the King's Study and entirely painted with styilised mountain scenes abounding with bird life.  From left to right Christian Williams, Tony Walker, myself and Alastair Ross.  Not the best shot, I think we are all giving the king's ADC instructions how to use the camera.  But it is the only one he took.
We had a most enjoyable audience and discussed a wide number of topics and I shall be able to report back to the Court that our links remain strong with the Royal House of Norway.

King Haakon is in a select group of Drapers' Royal Freemen who were not in direct line of succession when they joined the Company, although they subsequently became monarchs.  There are two others. William of Orange was admitted to the Company in 1676 while Stadtholder of the Netherlands.  It was a clear indication of the Company supporting a wider City view at the time of their preference for a Protestant, rather than a Catholic, succession.  Finally, King George VI was admitted to the Company when Duke of York in 1919.


  1. Most interesting, Master. Incidentally, who was responsible for the beautiful illuminated calligraphy of the address?

  2. The calligraphy is the work of Timothy Noad. He, as you note, is both a remarkable artist and craftsmen. Timothy has done some other beautiful work for the Company including our last royal charter of 2008 and the certificate that HM The Queen signed to record the sixtieth anniversary of her admission to the Company in 2007. I have amended to post to acknowledge Timothy's elegant handiwork.