Branding the Monarchy: The media, material, and consumer culture of monarchical postcards in early 20th century Norway.

How did postcards influence the way monarchy and public interacted in Norway in the early 20th century? This article looks at the origin and development of monarchical myths in Norway through examining postcards imagery from the period between 1905-07. 

The new royal family in their new home in Christiania, 1905, Wilse, A. B., Postcard with photograph.


On November 25th, 1905, a newly elected royal family was welcomed to Christiania by a large crowd. Minutes after making landfall the two-year-old crown prince Olav was already the star of the show. Dressed in a pure white coat the crown prince waved a Norwegian flag excitedly.[1] The crowd erupted with enthusiasm. Some observers intuitively associated the young Olav as a polar bear cub, proof that the foreign-born prince was naturally suited for the arctic nation.[2] The coat the prince wore was in fact made of lamb fur, but such inconvenient details did little to stop the enthusiasm of the spectators. The association had likely been established by the local schools, which had arranged a fundraiser among the schoolchildren to purchase a polar bear pelt as a welcoming gift to the prince.[3] A couple of days later, a court photographer recreated the scene in the Queen’s park, with the crown prince in the same attire holding the flag.[4] These photographs were then sold to publishing houses, which printed the images of the crown prince onto postcards and picture books. Postcards with this royal motive were bought by many Norwegians as Christmas and New Year greetings that were sent to friends and family. The spread of these photos of Olav formed the beginning of a myth of a foreign born, but naturally destined Norwegian crown prince.

One of the photographs taken of crown prince Olav after the family’s arrival in Christiania. 
1905, Wilse, A.B, Postcard with photograph.

This event is an example of the process in which postcards as a new form of media helped revolutionize the way monarchy and public interacted in Norway. What had originally been a local incident had been captured and commodified into a souvenir that symbolized the devotion of the new monarchy to the nation. Inspired by Eva Giloi’s book Monarchy, myth, and material culture in Germany 1750-1950 (2011) this study seeks to identify and explain the origin of popular monarchical myths in the period between 1905-1907 in Norway. By examining the way postcards are created and used by the public, it becomes apparent why the Norwegian monarchy was so successful as a brand and helps explain many of the foundational myths of the Norwegian nation-state.


Postcards: Role, Style, and Success

The initial success and spread of postcards as a political form of communication was enabled by the homogeneity of political opinion within the media, during the separation of the union between Norway and Sweden. Postcards as a medium of propaganda was after the dissolution of the union, completely dominated by monarchists that justified the need for the continuation of the monarchy through adopting and refining earlier nationalistic symbols into monarchical ones. The candidate for the throne, prince Carl of Denmark, was used as a model for these representations. By looking at the common themes on postcards depicting the monarchy in this period, two divergent characterizations are especially noticeable. The first celebrated the institution of the independent Norwegian monarchy as a completion of the national revival, borrowing from themes that had been defined as distinctively Norwegian through nationalist art and literature in the past century. These depictions were made by independent postcard producers, even before the monarchy had arrived in Norway. After the arrival of the royal family in late November 1905, depictions of a personal monarchy were popularised from photographs approved for publication by the monarchy. Complementing this portrayal of the king were similar depictions of the queen and crown prince. Both prevailing characterizations persisted, creating a Janus-faced symbol that reflected the conflicting interpretations of monarchy and its role within the new nation-state. Both government and monarchy reacted to popular depictions and tried to manipulate the process to varying degrees of success, but none managed to seize control of the process of myth creation. This was due to the ease in which non-official producers could participate in defining the monarchy. Court photographers provided officially approved publications that appealed to popular and nationalistic narratives, but there was also a large market of unofficial postcards producers that employed photomanipulations and illustrations to depict the monarchy in more exciting and jingoistic settings. Postcards and the myths it created therefore represented both the court and its subjects, creating a contradictory, but popular role for the monarchy within the Norwegian nation.

Mother Norway gazing to the distance. Her shield carries the royal symbol of the Norwegian Kingdom. Behind her the Bauta stone has the inscription: “Norwegian Constitution 1814”, and the motto of the French revolution: “Liberty, equality, fraternity.”1905, Bloch, Andreas Schelven Schroeter, Postcard Illustration.

The postcard collections used for the study are primarily from the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, with some additions from other collections through the digital archives DigitaltMuseum and the National Library of Norway. A more comprehensive study using different regional archives could further clarify the nuances and variations of monarchical portrayals on a national scale. Therefore, determining the origin and popularity of a certain postcards is exceedingly difficult. Most postcards from this period only include a copyright at best, and a lot of illustrators and editors chose to publish their depictions anonymously or under a pseudonym.[5] The timeframe of the study is tied to the larger public events celebrating the monarchy; the two plebiscites in 1905, the royal arrival in late November, the royal tour, and the crowning in Trondheim. After 1906, the number of postcards depicting the monarchy declined rapidly.[6] The likely explanation is as party politics resumed after 1906, political infighting within the nation dampened the enthusiasm among the public for postcards celebrating national symbols like the monarchy.

There are several reasons for using postcards to understand the visual media in this era. Between 1900-1914, postcards had their golden age in Norway as they were the main way of spreading images among the masses. Some newspapers used photographs already in the 1890s, but it was a rare and expensive luxury until the 1910s when cheaper printing techniques became available.[7] As a way of selling photographs and illustrations, postcards had the advantage over newspapers in being comparably cheap to manufacture, each image could be sold individually, and the buyer could attach short personal messages to the receiver. Only in 1905 about 12 400 000 postcards were sent through the Norwegian postal system, with up to seven deliveries a day in the capital.[8] The phenomenon was thus common enough to drastically expand the proliferation of images among the public.

As photographs used on postcards were also used in picture books, magazines, and portraits, they were strongly integrated with the wider photographic culture in Norway. Postcards also complimented the newspapers as a form of visual reporting. A large portion of postcards adopted a journalistic style of photography, covering events using unedited black and white photographs. The journalistic style lent an air of authenticity to postcards role as an arbiter of news comparable with the newspapers. Still, there was likely common knowledge that these depictions were rarely neutral as most press organizations in Norway had strong ties to political parties.[9] But the line between the understanding of journalism and propaganda was blurred, as postcards did not receive the same scrutiny or concern as the traditional forms of media did from the government. In addition, the common usage of illustrations and photomanipulations on postcards indicates that exciting images were preferred to accurate reporting. In building up a political symbol or marketable brand, the message on postcards were simplistic and repetitive. As selling postcards was often the goal itself, many producers, without collaborating, used similar themes that were popular in the wider media which gradually established a collective understanding of the attributes and role of the symbolic figure.[10] The simplicity of images benefited this uncoordinated process. A lack of explicit meaning beyond the symbol used meant that most readers could create their own interpretation of the postcards. Postcards as a political tool proved effective in creating unity around popular causes, such as nationalism and monarchy, because they avoided further deliberation that could lead to political infighting.

“As a way of selling photographs and illustrations, postcards had the advantage over newspapers in being comparably cheap to manufacture, each image could be sold individually, and the buyer could attach short personal messages to the receiver.” 

The success of postcards as a political tool was closely tied to the growing support of the independence movement in the years leading up to the breaking of union with Sweden. That postcards became a form of mass political communication was directly linked to the lack of debate within Norway in 1905. During the dissolution of the union, the public sphere developed in opposite directions despite Sweden and Norway having similar structure for both party and press organization before 1905. In Sweden there was a regular public debate on a solution to the union crisis through its press and dissenting opinions could be published.[11] In Norway, public opinion after 1904 gradually became dominated by the idea that nation was above politics, and that achieving national independence was a goal that should not be debated. While core democratic institutions like the free press, political parties, and freedom of speech were still guaranteed; supporting the union openly was sternly discouraged. The government steered the national discourse through loyal papers, such as Morgenavisen, and strong public support pressured the other party newspapers to follow suit.[12] Opposition politicians and cultural figures followed the governments directions with great zeal and there was strong social pressure to self-censor in the public sphere.[13] Public support for the union, which had been common in conservative papers months before, disappeared completely by midsummer. In the absence of a public debate, celebrations of the nation moved into all aspects of media. Now postcards became a major part of these nationalist celebrations, with depictions of warships, flags, and recognizable Norwegians that symbolized the feelings of strength and confidence that were sweeping across the nation.[14] For a patriotic Norwegian citizen, purchase of such postcards was an easy way to communicate enthusiasm and support for the national cause to friends and family. The widespread usage of politicized postcards in the daily communication between Norwegian citizens shows how all-encompassing nationalism was in this period. Yet there was rarely a connection between the personal messages on the back of the postcards and the politically imagery on the front. Support of the nation was strong, but postcards were still treated by most Norwegians as a form of informal communication, not to be taken too seriously. The tone associated with political postcards were thus usually friendly and positive regardless of subject.


Monarchism defines nationalism

Up until the Karlstad negotiations were concluded in late September 1905, a debate on the political order after independence had been avoided in the media. The issue of deciding between a monarchist or republican system was the first test of how the media would handle competing narratives within the nation after the Swedish government had accepted Norwegian independence. The government decided that another plebiscite would determine the issue.[15] As opposing views again were allowed in public, debate in the papers normalized. Postcards were, compared to newspapers, easy for small groups to commission.[16] It would stand to reason that a democratization of the new media would follow, increasing the spectre of opinion presented in the public sphere. Yet the republicans were completely absent when it came the usage of postcards as a tool of propaganda.[17] This was not caused by any form of organized suppression, as papers supporting the republican option were active.[18] The most probable explanation was that the republicans lacked an iconic figure or symbol to use on postcards. No strong candidate for president could be advertised because former leading republicans, such as Fridtjof Nansen or Christian Michelsen, actively campaigned for the monarchy.[19] Monarchists had in addition to the royal candidate an abundance of icons to use. Nationalist and monarchist symbols were already before 1905 closely related. Outside of a brief period in 1814, the last time Norway had been independent from its Scandinavian neighbours was as a medieval kingdom. This medieval period had throughout the 19th century been celebrated by nationalist as a uniquely Norwegian cultural identity. It was therefore not difficult for monarchists to argue that a king was required to complete the national awakening. A vote for monarchy became another vote for national liberation.

King Haakon embraces Mother Norway, 1905, Lærum, Gustav, Postcard Illustration.

An example of an icon used to represent monarchy and the nation as one before the second plebiscite was Mother Norway, a female personification of the Norwegian nation.[20] As prince Carl of Denmark became more recognizable to the public, Mother Norway’s popular role was overtaken. The postcard illustration drawn by Gustav Lærum shows prince Carl welcomed as the new symbol of the nation by embracing Mother Norway.[21] This change in the public understanding of the monarchy was rapid. There was only about two months between the conclusion of the Karlstad negotiations and the arrival of the monarchy in Christiania, but prince Carl had within this timeframe been established as a symbol of monarchy and nation. These early depictions were not celebrating prince Carl as an individual, rather it was the monarchy as a national institution that was popular. The earliest postcards campaigned for the monarchy before the candidate for the throne had even been chosen. As one early card shows, Swedish or Danish candidate, the monarchy was welcomed either way.[22] The prince had not been involved in creating these associations between the nation and himself. The various postcards producers used prince Carl’s image and sold their representations of the monarchy without consent or consultation. Norwegian independence had resulted in the strangest monarchy in Europe, with a king both elected and defined by his subjects before he had even arrived.


Reactions of Court and State to monarchical myths

On 20th November 1905, a week after the result of the plebiscite revealed an overwhelming majority for the monarchy (78,9%), prince Carl of Denmark began to participate in the public sphere as Norwegian monarch.[23] Prince Carl had after the advice of the Norwegian government’s representative in Copenhagen, Baron Wedel-Jarlsberg, embraced the popular image that his nation had given him. Prince Carl and his son Alexander adopted new names after medieval kings, Haakon and Olav respectively.[24] The choice to adopt these old Norse names shows the extent in which the nationalist narrative of rebirth was attached to the new role of the Norwegian monarchy. The first ceremonial duty for the new king was to speak to the small parliamentary delegation in Copenhagen. The king’s first speech shows he clearly understood and reacted to the role that had been created for him by the public. He opened by clarifying that it was he who had demanded the plebiscite, which by an overwhelming majority provided him with the mandate to reign as Norwegian sovereign.[25] As he had been elected by people, not party, king Haakon promised to be above party, representing the interest of all Norwegians. This was a break from the established custom, the Bernadotte kings had all supported the conservative faction within the Norwegian parliament.[26] King Haakon concluded the speech using his new royal motto “Alt for Norge” (All for Norway).[27] It summarised the message that had characterised Norwegian politics throughout the year, nation above all.

Photograph taken before prince Carl became king Haakon VII reprinted as a postcard in 1906. In naval uniform, holding a cigarette. 1906, unknown publisher, Postcard with photograph.

The nationalist speech from the king was not received well by prime minister Michelsen in Christiania. It raised concerns because the king expressed his new policy publicly without first consulting his government. The prime minister believed the monarch’s role was to represent the government’s policy, not to adopt his own. The king, knowingly or not, had contested Michelsen’s narrative that the plebiscite was the governments idea.[28] The government could not be seen to disagree with its new sovereign. Another reason for Michelsen’s anger could have been the talk of “people above party”. Through his speech the king was announcing his intention of placing himself at the centre of Norwegian society. This was a similar role that Michelsen as prime minister already occupied. Michelsen had assumed office as temporary head of state after the parliament had deposed Oscar II. As both prime minister and head of state, Michelsen held a dominant position at the top of the Norwegian political order. Public opinion had throughout 1905 been shaped in his favour by newspaper articles, written or dictated by Michelsen.[29] This public support had subsequently been weaponized in the form of the first plebiscite to justify the government’s claim to represent the Norwegian people’s desire for independence. The nationalistic course which shaped political postcards before the arrival of the monarchy was thus heavily influenced by the prime minister. Simultaneously, there was also an idealization of Michelsen as a national hero on postcards. Michelsen had been the most common figure found on political postcards before the king occupied the spotlight in November.[30] Looking at the political dominance of Michelsen in 1905 proves that significant political influence could be exercised from the role of head of state when used by a man who understood Norway’s political system. It is likely that a lot of Michelsen’s power as a leader was vested in the public’s perception that they had a duty to the nation to follow his lead in a time of crisis. Political postcards contributed to building this mythical connection between government and nation.

A vote for monarchy became another vote for national liberation. 

This interpretation is supported by the decline of political unity once the Karlstad negotiations had been concluded. The governments control over public opinion started to slip as debate reopened. Michelsen’s role as the symbolic figurehead of the nation was like Mother Norway overshadowed by the monarchy. There are signs indicating that Michelsen was concerned about such a development months before it happened. He had been opposed to the second plebiscite, only accepting it after long debate within the government on the role of the monarchy. Michelsen and most of his cabinet campaigned for the monarchy in the plebiscite, but intended the role of the new head of state to be as close to a president as possible, a monarchy in name only.[31] That the new king declared his own course before even arriving in Norway was cause for concern, as it proved the king was capable of independent political action. The formation of an opposition around the king was perceived as a potential threat. Michelsen blamed the king’s speech on Wedel’s influence. Wedel must have been a serious concern, because Michelsen requested Nansen to replace Wedel as the King’s aide in Copenhagen immediately.[32] Nansen declined the offer. Bomann-Larsen speculates that this was because Nansen was considering that such a close presence to the new monarch would sabotage the appearance of national unity created by the plebiscites.[33] Nansen clearly understood the political power of symbols. He had used his own fame to secure support for Norwegian independence, both domestically and abroad. Nansen had been used as the model for the popular illustrations of the medieval Norwegian king Olav Tryggvason in the 1890s. Nansen had thus entered the national consciousness not only as a famous explorer and author but also as a medieval king like the role now being projected onto king Haakon.[34] The new monarch could not become the unifying symbol of the nation if a similar figure shadowed him wherever he went. Nansen aided the process of transforming prince Carl into king Haakon by staying away from the public eye during the initial months. The new monarch aided Nansen by freeing him from the unwanted burden of being the symbolic leader of the nation.[35] The incident caused by the king’s first speech shows that government while publicly united in supporting the monarchy, was internally concerned about its growing role in the new political order. The separation of the symbolic central national figure from the political leadership had serious political repercussions as it indirectly contributed to the breakdown of unity within the government that would lead to Michelsen’s resignation as prime minister in 1907.

Early monarchist illustration depicting king Haakon VII as a medieval monarch.
1905, Artist: G.W.J (unknown), Postcard illustration.

Despite the concerns of Michelsen at the time there would be no challenge from king Haakon to his political power.  The king’s statements that had caused the conflict was a result of a lack of communication between the king and the representatives of the Norwegian government.[36] The king had through his speech recognized his role as national monarch, but disliked glorifications of himself. This is supported by the style in which the king allowed himself to be portrayed on official photographs. This style juxtaposed depictions of the monarchy before the plebiscite. These postcards used photographs licenced out by the monarchies appointed court photographers, which involved the king in the creation process. Official portrayals did not have to rely on illustrations or photomanipulations as court photographers could get the monarch to pose for them. Compare the depiction of the king as a noble warrior wearing the crown, flag, and medieval armour with the portraits to where the king is posing with a cigarette in his hand or relaxing in the home with his family.[37] The third representation is a typical national romantic depiction, emphasising the monarchy’s martial strength and ancient roots. The first and second depiction is in a bourgeois setting. The business suit, the focus on the home, and the close relationship within the family were experiences familiar to Norway’s urban middle and upper class. Through these depictions it is evident that the royal family was already adapting to the lifestyle of the cultural and political bourgeois elite in Christiania, instead of the popular depictions of the nationalistic monarchy.

The Personal Monarchy

Within the bourgeois depiction there was also a narrative that was popular with Norwegians from all classes. This was the personal monarchy. The success of this narrative lay in its ability to connect the monarchy with its subjects on a personal level. The official depictions of the royal family in the home were by early 20th century standards intimate, which changed the social dynamic between monarchy and public.[38] British sociologist John B. Thompson summarizes this process in his article “The New Visiblity” (2005) by describing how the dynamic between ruler and subject changes through the modern media. The new form of mass visual media, in this case postcards, lay bare aspects of the personal life of the monarchy for the public to see. The ability of photographs to bridge the gap of physical distance between king and individual allowed for subjects to feel an “non-reciprocal intimacy at a distance” with their ruler.[39] The illusion of intimate relationship with the monarchy could through postcards be established without the monarch and subject ever having to meet. Without two-way communication and a choice of depictions to purchase, the subject was also free to collect, interpret, and shape their personal narrative of the monarchy as they desired. When appealing to his subject’s emotions, the king was not presenting himself as a leader, but as a fellow human-being deserving of empathy. Thompson argues that this process strips the leader of his aloof greatness, instead establishing a new form of intimate relation where the subject likes, rather than respects the leader.[40]

The new monarch could not become the unifying symbol of the nation if a similar figure shadowed him wherever he went. 

This process also affected the other members of the king’s family. Crown prince Olav was depicted the most in the personal setting. The initial photoshoots of the prince in his white coat with the flag were followed up by a wide selection of portraits in all manner of costumes, from sailor uniforms to Sunday dresses.[41] Photographs of the prince’s daily routines were also published such as Olav playing in the snow or studying with his mother. While the communication between monarch and subject was exceedingly one-sided, there were instances when members of the public approached the monarchs with their perceived feelings of intimacy. In the autumn of 1906, the Queen’s park, where the prince often played, had to be closed to the public. The reason was a series of incidents where older, unwed ladies would interrupt the prince playing to shower him with shows of affection such as hugs and kisses, despite the protests from the nannies.[42] For these unmarried ladies the prince had become like a surrogate child. Their unwelcomed intimacy was an expression of an unintended change in the established social order caused by the personalized depictions of the monarchy.

The intimacy created by the personal depictions of the monarchy on postcards were still limited to supplementing, rather than supplanting the role of mass gatherings when interacting with the monarchy. During the royal tour of 1906, the monarchy would be welcomed by large crowds at every local centre on the route to Trondheim.[43] The royal tour would end with the king’s crowning in Nidaros, the strongest symbol of medieval heritage of the Norwegian monarchy. The event therefore celebrated the historical and grandiose side of the monarchy, but as the royal family interacted with the locals in a direct and informal way at local celebrations it grounded the historical myth in the personal monarchy rather than building down one representation for the other as Thompson’s theory predicted. The monarchy was successful in establishing itself as an institution that held high sentimental value to most Norwegians, while also being deeply connected to the perceived strength of the nation. It was an institution both respected and loved.

A manipulated photograph of Queen Maude and Prince Olav in front of the local honor gate in Ormheim, 1906, Fredrikson, John, Postcard with photograph.

Postcards also further helped create a positive portrayal of the monarchy as the public celebrations had extensive coverage in the form of journalistic postcards.[44] As the events were celebrations of the monarchy, both independent and official photographers exclusively portrayed the monarchy in ideal settings. The extensive coverage on postcards widened the feeling of participation for the non-attending public. Some producers offered photomontages of the tour, presenting the national reach of the event. But local identities were also strengthened, as individual images taken at local centres or monuments was evidence to locals that the royals were concerned with their lives, not just those of elite in Christiania. So that while the royals were universally celebrated and served as a unifying symbol of the nation, they simultaneously represented competing narratives within the nation.


Producers of Postcards

While the court photographers produced plenty of official depictions of the royals, the variations of official representation were restricted by poor finances. The royal family had no great fortune and the parliament had not delegated nearly enough money for the monarchy to live in a form of luxury comparable to other monarchies in Europe. Social arenas that other European monarchies used to justify its existence such as expensive courtly rituals or large-scale balls were thus not available.[45] Therefore the small group of court photographers played a very important role in creating most of the official monarchical propaganda. Examples of those hired to the position were well established photographers like Anders Beer Wilse and Frederik Hilfling-Rasmussen who were used to work with famous and influential figures in Christiania.[46] The king still had some say in the process of portraying himself as he appointed the photographers and approved images for publication, but the framing and theme was likely left up to them. Tore Rem credits Wilse as the mastermind that made Olav into a winter prince, validating him as a destined Norwegian king.[47] The court photographers likely exercised a strong influence on the monarchy’s public image, but there is nothing that indicates that there was conflict with the king over the portrayals of the monarchy. Official release should thus be understood as a mix between the king’s personal tastes and the outside influence of the experienced court photographers.

The official releases could not completely satisfy customer demand. Unofficial producers continued to produce depictions throughout the entire period between 1905-07. Many of these continued to emphasise the historical and nationalist monarchy. But these producers also adapted to the growing variation in demand and adopted the themes seen on official postcards. The unofficial representations differentiated themselves by going further to please public desire, exaggerating desired features, or appealing to neglected niches in the market. Crown Prince Olav was through photomanipulations portrayed as both an excellent skier and a lieutenant at age three.[48] These photographs were blatantly manipulated, but their widespread existence indicate that customers were willing to overlook the poor quality if they got their desired portrayals of the monarchy. The widespread use of photomanipulations and illustrations also represented a democratization of the portrayals of the monarchy, as it prevented the court photographers from alone deciding how the monarchy could be portrayed in the public sphere. Photomanipulation was so cheap that it even could be used on postcards produced for tiny local markets, such as when the royals were inserted artificially in front of local monuments in Eidsvold and Romsdal.[49] The wider public thus had some autonomy in creating their own ideal monarchy, even without the king participating.

Manipulated photo of king Haakon together with servants and guards at Eidsvold,
Published 1906, Schjørn, E.A, Postcard with photograph.


The contrasting representations of the monarchy highlighted in this study reflects the defining characteristics of the Norwegian national movement at its highest point. While the postcards were an informal way of communication, these examples have shown that they appropriated and affected the popular understandings of monarchy and nation. It showed that the public created, consumed, and demanded depictions showing aspects of the monarchy both desired and undesired by the monarchy. The Norwegian people seemed uniquely united for a brief period after 1905, but as the contrasting representations of monarchy clearly shows was the nationalist movement not nearly as united as it appeared on the outside. Political infighting once again resumed after the initial enthusiasm had settled down. Norwegian independence had been the ultimate triumph for the Liberal Party, but it also destroyed its main claim to leadership of the nation’s politics. The new monarchy represented the various compromises that had been made to establish national unity, but this symbolic institution did not collapse under the weight of internal disagreements like the coalition government did in 1907. The survival of the monarchy was due to its apolitical position and its lack of control over its public image. The monarchy could continue being the symbol of all regions and classes because it never had to choose a side publicly. It moved away from public debate when the institution no longer served an important practical function in politics. King Haakon’s steadfast commitment in keeping the monarchy subservient to parliamentary procedure throughout his reign meant that the monarchy never officially attached itself to any divisive political movement that threatened to undermine its claim to national legitimacy. The wide variety of producers and groups responsible for creating representations of the monarchy also exclusively aided the monarchy’s image because all representations were positive. These positive representations were not challenged by notable critical voices and they therefore over time became cemented in the public consciousness as foundational myths of the monarchy. Even today these monarchical myths continue to justify the existence of the monarchy. The myths surrounding the monarchy have changed and adapted over time, taking on new stories and narratives, but at their core the legacy of 1905 remains. The popularisation of the monarchy shows that the line between artistic liberty and propaganda is dangerously thin when depicting a political institution which justifies its existence on historical legitimacy.[50] Hopefully in the future there will be larger studies, which will further clarify the extent and consequences of these myths in the larger national history of Norway that postcards helped contribute to.



Primary sources:


«Tak for Isbjørnskindet.» Akershusposten (Lillestrøm) 02.12.1905, Nasjonalbiblioteket digital aviser,

Bomann-Larsen, Tor, 2020, “Fake history, made in Norway” NRK, 16.11.2020,

Snoen, Jan Arild, 2020, «Falsk historiefortelling forkledd som drama», Afterposten, 19.11.2020


Figure 1: Nordmøre museum «Kronprins Olav. Med sit indtogsflag», Wilse, A.B, Postcard with photograph, 1905

Figure 2: Norsk Folkemuseum «Postkort. Ubrukt. Nasjonalromantisk postkort fra 1905.», Illustration, Bloch, Andreas Schelven Schroeter, 1905

Figure 3: «Mor Norge som får klem», 1905
Ulvestad, Ivar, ed., Vennlig hilsen -: postkortets historie i Norge (Oslo: Aventura, 1988) 66

Figure 4: Norsk Folkemuseum “Prins Carl af Danmark”, Postcards with photograph, 1906

Figure 5: Norsk Folkemuseum, 1906 «Den Norske kongefamilie», Wilse, A. B., Postcard with photograph, 1905

Figure 6:
296. "Alt for Norge": King Haakon VII Norges Konge, Nasjonalbiblioteket.

Figure 7:

Norsk Folkemuseum, Postcard with photograph, E.A Schjørn, 1906, NF.09391Y,

Figure 8:

Norsk Folkemuseum, Postcard with photograph, Fredrikson, John, 1906, NF.09390A

Secondary sources:

Bomann-Larsen, Tor, King Haakon & Maud: II: Folket (Oslo: Cappelen, 2006)

Bomann-Larsen, Tor, King Haakon & Maud: III: Vintertronen (Oslo: Cappelen, 2006)

Bonge, Susanne, Eldre norske fotografer: fotografer og amatørfotografer i Norge frem til 1920 (Bergen: Universitetsbiblioteket i Bergen, 1980)

Dahl, Hans Fredrik, A history of the Norwegian press, 1660-2015 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)

Giloi, Eva, Monarchy, myth, and material culture in Germany 1750-1950 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011)

Giloi, Eva, “Copyrighting the Kaiser: Publicity, Piracy, and the Right to Wilhelm II's Image” in Central European history 45 (2012) 407-451

Haraldsen, Nutta, Norske Postkort (Porsgrunn: Norgesforlaget, 2018)

Løvaas, Rolf, Jeg sender deg et kongekort: kongefamilien på postkort 1905-1991 (Oslo: Huitfeldt forlag, 1991)

Ottosen, Rune, et al., Norsk presses historie: 1-4 (1660-2010): B. 2: Parti, presse og publikum: 1880-1945 (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 2010)

Rem, Tore, Olav V: den fremmede: 1903-1940 (Oslo: Cappelen Damm, 2020)

Thompson, John B, “The New Visibility” in Theory, culture & society 22 (2016) 31-51

Ulvestad, Ivar, ed., Vennlig hilsen -: postkortets historie i Norge (Oslo: Aventura, 1988)

Ulvestad, Ivar, Norske postkort: kulturhistorie og samleobjekter, (Oslo: Damm, 2005)



[1] Tor Bomann-Larsen, King Haakon & Maud: II: Folket (Oslo: Cappelen, 2006) 507-8.

[2] Ibid., 516.

[3] «Tak for Isbjørnskindet.» Akershusposten (Lillestrøm) 02.12.1905, Nasjonalbiblioteket digital aviser,

Bomann-Larsen, Folket, 510.

[4] Tore Rem, Olav V: den fremmede: 1903-1940 (Oslo: Cappelen Damm, 2020) 42.

[5] Nutta Haraldsen, Norske Postkort, (Porsgrunn: Norgesforlaget, 2018) 7.

[6] Ivar Ulvestad, Vennlig hilsen -: postkortets historie i Norge (Oslo: Aventura, 1988) 68.

[7] Rune Ottosen, et al., Norsk presses historie: 1-4 (1660-2010): B. 2: Parti, presse og publikum: 1880-1945 (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 2010) 138.

[8] Ulvestad, Vennlig hilsen, 34, 35.

[9] Ottosen, Parti, presse og publikum, 303.

[10] Ivar Ulvestad, Norske postkort: kulturhistorie og samleobjekter, (Oslo: Damm, 2005) 28.

[11] Hans Fredrik Dahl, A history of the Norwegian press, 1660-2015 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) 107.

[12] Ottosen, Parti, presse og publikum, 316.

[13] Dahl, A history of the Norwegian press, 108.

[14] Ulvestad, Vennlig hilsen, 63.

[15] Bomann-Larsen, Folket, 430.

[16] Ulvestad, Vennlig hilsen, 49.

[17] Ibid., 64.

[18] Bomann-Larsen, Folket, 435.

[19] Ibid., 432.

[20] See: Figure 2.

[21] See: Figure 3.

[22] Rolf Løvaas, Jeg sender deg et kongekort: kongefamilien på postkort 1905-1991 (Oslo: Huitfeldt forlag, 1991) 10.

[23] Bomann-Larsen, Folket, 441.

[24] Ibid., 456.

[25] Ibid., 472.

[26] Ibid., 473.

[27] Ibid., 472.

[28] Ibid., 478.

[29] Ottosen, Parti, presse og publikum, 316.

[30] Ulvestad, Vennlig hilsen, 63.

[31] Bomann-Larsen, Folket, 395.

[32] Ibid., 478.

[33] Ibid., Folket, 484.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Bomann-Larsen, Folket, 484.

[36] Ibid., 478-9.

[37] See: figure 6 in comparison with 4 and 5.

[38] Eva Giloi, Monarchy, myth, and material culture in Germany 1750-1950 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011) 277.

[39] John B. Thompson, “The New Visibility” in Theory, Culture & Society 22 (2016) 34.

[40] Ibid., 39.

[41] Rem, Olav V, 46, 55.

[42] Ibid., 56.

[43] Ulvestad, Norske postkort, 86.

[44] Ulvestad, Vennlig hilsen, 66.

[45] Giloi, Monarchy, myth, and material culture in Germany 1750-1950, 338.

[46] Susanne Bonge, Eldre norske fotografer: fotografer og amatørfotografer i Norge frem til 1920 (Bergen: Universitetsbiblioteket i Bergen, 1980) p.173.

[47] Rem, Olav V, 63.

[48] Løvaas, Jeg sender deg et kongekort, 4.

[49] See: figure 7 and 8.

[50] Historians have recently critiqued the NRK drama series Atlantic Crossing for its inaccurate depictions of historical events. The series is just the latest example of how mythmaking about the monarchy has served to justify the existence of the monarchy itself.
Tor Bomann-Larsen, «Fake history, made in Norway» 2020;
Jan Arild Snoen, «Falsk historiefortelling forkledd som drama» 2020.

Av Theodor Jørgen Lund. BA student, in history, UiO
Publisert 22. mars 2021 13:49 - Sist endret 22. mars 2021 13:50