Crown Princess Märtha was the wife of the late King Olav of Norway and mother of King Harald V, Norway's reigning king who will unveil the statue on September 18 at 1pm. The Crown Princess is being honored for her unique role in promoting the young country's world visibility during WWII. She also represents a contemporary link between the United States and Norway since she resided in Washington, D.C., with her children during the war years.
The gift of a commemorative statue is a centennial project of the Norwegian American Foundation. It will be presented as a gift from Norwegian Americans to Norway during the 2005 centennial celebration to honor the special relationship that exists between the two countries. The United States was one of the first countries in 1905 to acknowledge Norway's sovereign status, and cultural and economic ties have grown strong between the two democracies during 100 years of interaction.
A symbol of "courage, determination and optimism"
Crown Princess Märtha is particularly appropriate for recognition during the 2005 Centennial Celebration when ties between the United States and Norway are being celebrated. Wife of the late His Majesty King Olav V of Norway and mother to His Majesty King Harald, Norway's reigning king, the Crown Princess escaped Norway in 1940 on the eve of the German invasion with her three children. She found refuge first in Sweden, then in the United States after accepting an invitation from President Franklin Roosevelt.
Separated from then Crown Prince Olav for what would be five difficult years of WWII, Crown Princess Märtha and her children lived in Washington, D.C., where she was active in the Red Cross and played a significant role in ensuring Norway's occupation was not overlooked. Her influence on her country's behalf earned her deep respect and admiration from Americans and inspired President Roosevelt's famous “Look to Norway” speech in 1942.
A romantic alliance reflects scandinavian political style
The life of Crown Princess Märtha also illustrates the special Scandinavian style of peaceful political negotiation and alliances. Born in 1901, Märtha Sofia Lovisa Dagmar Thyra was a Swedish princess and cousin of Crown Prince Olav of Norway. Since her father, Prince Carl, was not destined for the throne in either Sweden or Norway, her childhood schooling was normal and unrestricted by royal expectations. She studied pediatric nursing, tailoring and culinary arts, and met Crown Prince Olav several times as a young woman. Romance developed and their engagement was formally announced in January 1929. The couple was married in Oslo in March 1929, the first royal wedding to be held in Norway in over 400 years. Following the birth of two sisters, Crown Prince Harald was born in 1937.
In 1945 at the end of WWII, Crown Princess Märtha and the children returned to Norway. Sadly, she died in 1954 before King Olav ascended to the throne, but her legacy and commitment to Norway will always be remembered and are fittingly commemorated with this centennial statue.
Cross-cultural Norwegian sculptor ideal for the project
The statue of Crown Princess Märtha is being designed and sculpted by Kirsten Kokkin. Born in Oslo, Kokkin is acclaimed worldwide for her lyrical bronze figures that capture the dance of human movement and emotion suspended in time. Described as a “romantic naturalist,” Kokkin plays with forms, yet loosens strict realism with a sense of adventure that makes her figures seem to be on the verge of becoming alive.
A graduate of the Royal Academy of Art in Stockholm, Kokkin was first a dancer and also studied painting at the National College of Arts and Design in Oslo. She initially pursued her sculpting career in Norway, but eventually moved to the United States. She now resides in Colorado.
Kokkin's naturalist figures have been acclaimed since her first exhibitions and have earned her many commissions, both public and private. She has exhibited extensively in both the U.S. and Norway, and her work is included in several corporate and private collections.