Fact or Fiction: Inside Episode 1
Was an isolationist country like America truly enthusiastic about the Norwegian royals? Was Martha really a shutterbug? And did her car actually smash through the Swedish border station? What elements in Atlantic Crossing thus far are fact, fiction, or something in between?*
Fact or Fiction: Were Martha and Olav adored on their U.S. visit?
Fact: Olav and Martha were very warmly received by those along their tour stops, as evidenced by local press, cheering crowds and parades. Visits from the Crown Prince and Princess had been postponed a few times due to unrest in Europe, and President Roosevelt sent a personal invitation in 1938. Atlantic Crossing writers learned in their research that Roosevelt felt it was important the world’s democracies stayed in close and personal contact with each other. The royals started their itinerary visiting the World’s Fair in New York City and meeting the President at Hyde Park. Later on the same tour, they visited him at the White House, developing a long-lasting friendship that proved significant.
Fact or Fiction: Martha regularly used a film camera.
FACT: Princess Martha was “a very eager photographer and took lots of photos during her lifetime and certainly during the war,” says Atlantic Crossing’s Creator, Director, Writer and Executive Producer, Alexander Eik. “She had a film camera and would often film, as we do today with our cell phones. Some of [the material] is lost but the majority belongs to the Norwegian Royal Archives. We recreated some of it” for the series.
Fact or Fiction: The Østgaards abandoned their older children.
FACT: Ragni and Nikolai evacuated with only their youngest son, Einar. As court staff, the Østgaards accompanied royal family members on their respective escapes and Ragni wrote about what happened in her diary (now in the National Archives of Norway). It was agreed the two children Ulla and Rolf would stay behind if there was a need for an immediate evacuation.
Fact or Fiction: Princess Martha’s car rammed through the Swedish border crossing.
DISPUTED: Martha and her children did, in fact, head separately to Sweden where she had family, but sources disagree about their dramatic border crossing. Princess Astrid has stated the border between Norway and Sweden was closed and they drove swiftly through, believing Germans were giving chase. Einar Østgaard remembers the scene differently. Atlantic Crossing’s writers say that since the Norwegian and Swedish custom stations would be at some distance apart, both eyewitnesses may be correct.
Meanwhile, the royals’ escape had actual, harrowing incidents including sheltering from Nazi bombardment at Lillestrøm train station and the king and prince escaping unharmed from what was truly a disastrous bomb attack on Elverum, Norway.
*Based on a series of articles (in Norwegian) written by Mari Aftret Mørtvedt and Ola Nymo Trulsen for NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Company, as it aired Atlantic Crossing.