Timeline: The Saga of Crown Princess Martha and President Roosevelt

Trace the background and key events that shaped the fate of Norway and its royal family during World War II. Atlantic Crossing brings together two key players in this true-life drama: Norwegian Crown Princess Martha and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.

  1. March 21, 1929

    Royal Wedding

    Crown Prince Olav of Norway marries Princess Martha of Sweden, a year after their engagement at the 1928 Olympic Summer Games.

  2. April-July, 1939

    Olav and Martha Visit Roosevelts

    Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt host Olav and Martha at the beginning and end of the couple’s ten-week goodwill tour of the U.S. [Image credit: Library of Congress, Harris & Ewing Collection]

  3. April 9, 1940

    Germany Invades Norway

    In a campaign that will last two months, German troops invade Norway, immediately taking the capital of Oslo, as the royal family flees.

  4. April–June, 1940

    King, Prince, and Princess in Hiding

    While King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav try to maintain the Norwegian government, Martha and the children escape to Sweden.

  5. August, 1940

    Martha and Children Voyage to U.S.

    President Roosevelt sends the army troopship American Legion to transport Martha and her three children secretly to the U.S.

  6. September, 1940

    Martha Moves into White House

    At Roosevelt’s invitation, Martha and the children live at the White House until they find a more permanent home near Washington, D.C.

  7. November 5, 1940

    Roosevelt Reelected

    President Roosevelt is reelected to an unprecedented third term, defeating Republican challenger, Wendell Willkie.

  8. September 1, 1941

    King Haakon Addresses American People

    In a radio speech from London, the exiled Norwegian king thanks the American people for their steadfast support.

  9. December 7, 1941

    Japan Attacks Pearl Harbor

    Japanese planes attack the American fleet in Hawaii, bringing the U.S. into World War II. Germany declares war on the U.S. four days later. [Image credit: Franklin D. Roosevelt Library archive]

  10. September 16, 1942

    Roosevelt Gives Warship to Norway

    With Martha accepting on behalf of Norway, President Roosevelt presents the new escort ship HNoMS King Haakon VII to Norwegian exiles.

  11. April 12, 1945

    Roosevelt Dies

    A cerebral hemorrhage fells the president less than a month before victory over Nazi Germany.

  12. May 8, 1945

    Victory in Europe

    A ceasefire takes effect marking the unconditional surrender of German forces to the Allies. Norway is now free. [Image credit: National Archives catalog]

  13. June 7, 1945

    Royals Return to Norway

    King Haakon, Crown Prince Olav, Crown Princess Martha, and their children return to Norway after five years of war and exile.


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