The King’s Sweater – A personal history, then and now
The King’s Sweater pattern was copied from an original mid-20th century child’s sweater. Its significance to a knitter is in the traditional Scandinavian design and colorway of true red with off-white. This particular sweater has historical significance as well having been worn by the current king of Norway, Harald V, on the early spring day in 1940 when on the ruse of a skiing holiday the entire family escaped capture in advance of the Nazi invasion of Norway. The little prince was then just three years old and the tale of the family’s escape is harrowing with twists and intrigues worthy of a novel. The child’s paternal grandfather was King Haakon VII and together with his son Crown Prince Olav (Harald’s own father and later King Olav V) spent the war years in London with the Norwegian government in exile. Prince Harald together with his mother Princess Martha and his older sisters, the Princesses Ragnhild and Astrid arrived later that summer in Washington D.C. and in early autumn they moved to a new home in Bethesda, Maryland, where they were to live for five years until the war’s end. There are photos of the little prince playing with President Franklin Roosevelt’s dog Fala on the White House lawn and in the background of FDR’s fourth inauguration. Today Harald is King of Norway and is said to speak English with a trace of an American accent.
A Personal History
We settled on a new version of this sweater as a gift for a very special child to honor his birthright traditions. Born a citizen of Norway and a citizen of the United States of America, it seemed fitting to remember a personal history that unites his two cultures. Still in the possession of the royal family, a Norwegian woman was given access to the sweater for the purpose of making a pattern. The yarn is from the same company, Rauma Strikkegarn, and in the same colorways as the original. The company has produced this true, clear red since 1927 although they’ve experimented with darker reds and bluer reds over the years. To make the buttons for the left shoulder opening, four ten øre coins were purchased from four different coin shops in order to have historically appropriate ones; these are circulated coins in good to excellent condition dated with the years of Harald’s birth and earliest childhood—1937 and 1938, the year the original sweater was made—1939, and the significant year of 1940 when the sweater was worn on the day of escape from Norway and also the year it was worn again for Harald’s passport photo taking him into exile at Pook’s Hill, Bethesda, Maryland, in the United States.
It’s an interesting story about the journey of a little prince who grew into a wise King and a story our little prince will learn more about as he grows. The best gift, of course, is to be loved by so many people on two sides of an ocean!