Norway’s King Olav, 73, is not much for protocol and spends most of his time on a farm outside Oslo. Like most Norwegians, he will seize any opportunity to get out on skis. So when his son, Crown Prince Harald, recently celebrated his 40th birthday, Olav decided to throw a three-day private winter carnival that turned into one of the larger assemblages of crowned heads in recent memory.
On a Friday Olav and the birthday boy greeted Belgium’s King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola and the Grand Duke Jean and Princess Josephine Charlotte of Luxembourg at the Oslo airport, then whisked them to the royal chalet on a wooded hill overlooking Oslo. There they were joined by Princess Beatrix and Prince Claus of the Netherlands, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden and, the final arrivals, Britain’s Princess Anne (whose mother, Elizabeth II, is distantly related to Olav) and her husband, Mark Phillips.
Saturday was spent on the boards—a cross-country jaunt in 14 degrees and a brisk wind. Queen Fabiola wisely got cold feet and decided to visit a ski museum outside Oslo. On Sunday the celebrants attended the ski-flying championships at gelid Vikersund. They saw a flying Swiss, Walter Steiner, set a hill record of 153 meters (502 feet), a heart-warming natal present for the frozen royal hosts.