King Harald V of Norway (and His Knitted Sweater)

The year is 1940; the prince, King Harald V of Norway, is wearing a striking knitted sweater.

Piecework Editorial Staff May 22, 2023 - 4 min read

King Harald V of Norway (and His Knitted Sweater) Primary Image

Laura Ricketts based her design on the sweater that Crown Prince Harald wore when his family fled the Nazi invasion in 1940. Photos by Joe Coca unless otherwise noted

The January/February 2015 issue of PieceWork included a photograph of Crown Prince Harald playing at the official residence of the Norwegian royal family in Asker, Norway. The year is 1940; the prince is wearing a striking knitted sweater. Here’s an excerpt from frequent PieceWork contributor Laura Ricketts’s article, “A Crown Prince, a Knitted Sweater, and Escape from Nazi Invasion”:

Laura Ricketts’s “The Crown Prince’s Sweater” is based on a sweater worn by Harald V of Norway when the family left Norway during the Nazi invasion in 1940.

“The morning of April 9, 1940, three-year-old Crown Prince Harald of Norway awoke to a world torn apart. The Nazi government of Germany had just given the Norwegian government an ultimatum—capitulate to Nazi rule or suffer the consequences. Without mentioning the danger to her children, Crown Princess Märtha (1901–1954), wife of Prince Olav V (1903–1991), gathered Harald and his two sisters, ten-year-old Princess Ragnhild and eight-year-old Princess Astrid, and told them that they were going on a ski trip. Bundled in warm knitted sweaters, hats, and mittens, the family began a journey that would last five years. . . . On June 7, 1945, five years to the day that King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav fled Norway, the king, Crown Prince Olav, Crown Princess Märtha, the Princesses Ragnhild and Astrid, and Crown Prince Harald sailed into the Oslo fjord to a warm welcome. Packed in a trunk on board the ship was the little red sweater that Harald had worn in preparation for the ‘ski trip’ that never took place. It was most likely a birthday present as photographs showing Harald wearing it were taken just weeks after his birthday on February 21, 1940. Several colorwork mistakes on the left arm are evidence that it was handknitted.”

Photograph of the royal family waving to the welcoming crowds upon their return to Norway on June 7, 1945. Crown Prince Harald is at left, facing the camera. Collection of the Imperial War Museums, London.
Photo by Lt. E. A. Zimmerman, Royal Navy official photographer, and courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

There’s so much more to this gripping story of survival. And Laura’s adorable companion sweater project—The Crown Prince’s Sweater—is based on the knitted sweater that Crown Prince Harald wore when the royal family fled Norway. The complete pattern is in the January/February 2015 issue. King Harald’s original sweater is still in his possession.

Interested in more historic knitting patterns? This article and others can be found in the January/February 2015 issue of PieceWork.

Also, remember that if you are an active subscriber to PieceWork magazine, you have unlimited access to previous issues, including January/Febrary 2015. See our help center for the step-by-step process on how to access them.

Originally published February 13, 2017; updated May 22, 2023.