The Norwegian Royal
Yacht Norge is one of the world’s two remaining royal
yachts. The other is the Danish Royal Yacht Dannebrog, since
the British Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned in
In 1905 the Norwegian Government formally invited Prince
Carl of Denmark to become the king of Norway. The proposal
included the promise of a royal yacht, financed by the state
and placed at the king’s disposal. However, due to the
difficult economic situation in Norway after the dissolution
of the union with Sweden, King Haakon (formerly Prince Carl)
did not call upon the Government to provide a yacht.
Gift from the people
Not until after WWII did the question of a royal yacht arise
again. The Norwegian press appealed to the people to raise
the funds necessary to present King Haakon with a yacht on
the occasion of his 75th birthday. In July 1947, the British
motor yacht Philante was purchased for NOK 1.5 million.
The Philante was built in England in 1937 for the British
aircraft manufacturer Thomas Sopwith. At the time it was one
of the largest vessels of its kind. Sopwith used the yacht
as a base when competing in regattas. In fact, the Philante
first entered Norwegian waters in 1938 in connection with a
regatta at Hankø in Eastern Norway.
The name Philante is an amalgam of the owner’s wife’s name,
Phyllis, and the owner’s name, Thomas: Phil (short for
“Phyllis”) + an (short for “and”) + t (for “Thomas) + e (to
add an extra syllable).
Convoy escort vessel
After the outbreak of WWII the British Royal Navy
requisitioned the Philante. First used as an escort vessel
for convoys crossing the Atlantic, it was put into service
as a school ship for training convoy escorts in 1942. The
ship was returned to Thomas Sopwith in 1946 and sold to
Norway the following year.
Renovation of the ship
The ship needed to be refurbished before it could be used,
so King Haakon was given a model of the yacht on his 75th
birthday. In particular, the interior of the ship required
extensive refitting, and architect Finn Nilsson was asked to
be the designer. On 17 May 1948 the ship’s captain,
Commander Christian Monsen, raised the command pennant for
the first time, and on 9 June the Royal Yacht was handed
over to King Haakon.
The ship was christened the Norge.
The Royal Yacht
In the years that followed, King Haakon used the Royal Yacht
to visit communities along the coast of Norway and to travel
abroad. In June 1955 the King paid a visit to Molde in
Western Norway. It was to be his final voyage on the Norge.
King Olav took over the ship after his father died in 1957.
A technical assessment resulted in a 10-year plan for
upgrading the hull and technical equipment. Like his father
before him, King Olav used the Royal Yacht in his official
capacity as well as in his leisure time.
In the winter of 1985 the Norge was in dry dock at the
Horten Shipyard for repair and upgrading when welding
operations sparked a fire that quickly spread. The vessel
was severely damaged in the fire, with the exception of the
hull and engines, which remained relatively intact. King
Olav decided that the ship was to be rebuilt.
Once again, architect Finn Nilsson was asked to refit the
interior. Just over a year after the fire the King was again
able to take command of the Royal Yacht, in safer and in
better technical condition than had previously been the
HM King Harald took over the Norge after King Olav died in