My question: How long did the Norwegian Prince and his Mother stay at the Whitehouse? I've found online sources that detail he spent the war in Washington DC, but no dates for staying at the Whitehouse. The Whitehouse residential quarters aren't that large, were they really there for the entire war?

In April 1940 the Norwegian royal family was forced to flee Oslo when the German's invaded.

The Doris Kearns Goodwin book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the Home Front in World War II; contains this picture of the current King (then Prince) Harald V. playing with Franklin Delano Roosevelt's(FDR's) dog, Fala, on the North Lawn of the White House in 1944.

Prince Harald V Prince Harald V

In the book it says that the young(second grader) and his mother lived at the White House with Elenor and FDR throughout the war. They originally went to Sweden but even though she was a Swedish Princess they were denied a VISA and left for fear of being sent back to occupied Norway. The young Prince Harald V - 7 years old in the picture- and mother then went to Finland and eventually came to the United States. The crowned prince and father stayed in London with the government in exile. The book goes so far to say FDR arranged for the King of Norway to Fly across the Atlantic on Christmas to celebrate with his wife and son on several occasions.

Princess Märtha following an invitation by President Roosevelt, she went to the United States on United States Army transport American Legion, via the then Finnish port city of Petsamo. In the U.S., she and her children initially stayed in the White House. Crown Prince Olav, however, had gone with his father to the United Kingdom, where he worked with the Norwegian government-in-exile. Thus, the Crown Couple, as were many couples during the time, were separated for much of the war.


Vital mission to Petsamo

President Franklin D. Roosevelt directed that American Legion leave New York immediately and proceed to Petsamo in northern Finland. There, she was to embark the Crown Princess Märtha of Norway and her party and bring them to the United States, their homeland having fallen to the Germans the previous spring. Further, as Acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles reported to the United States Minister in Sweden, the President also desired that Mrs. J. Borden Harriman, the former American Minister to Norway, return in the same vessel. The transport would "likewise bring back to this country such Americans in Scandinavian countries as can be accommodated and as may not be able to return safely in any other way."

American Legion — her neutrality shown clearly by the U.S. flags painted prominently on her sides — sailed for Finland on 25 July, and reached Petsamo on 6 August, as scheduled. On the 15th, she embarked Crown Princess Märtha, and her three children, the Princesses Ragnhild and Astrid, and Crown Prince Harald. The Army troopship also embarked a host of American nationals and refugees from a variety of countries: Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands, the total number of people being 897.


In August 1941, Crown Princess Märtha traveled with President Roosevelt aboard the presidential yacht, USS Potomac, and sailed to Newfoundland and Atlantic Charter with Winston Churchill.


Crown Princess Martha of Norway with her three children reportedly arriving in New York City in 1940.
enter image description here

Even though she was a former Swedish princess, some in Sweden believed her and her children compromised the country’s neutrality by being in Sweden. The four royals and three staff members then traveled to Finland.

At some point President Roosevelt invited Martha and her children to stay at the White House. The United States was also neutral at the time.

Crown Princess Märtha with her husband, Eleanor Roosevelt, Thomas J. Watson and Princess Juliana of the Netherlands in 1944 enter image description here

Current Picture.
enter image description here


It seems that Crown Princess Märtha and her three children, including prince Harald, didn't stay at the White House for very long. Several sources comment that they initially stayed at Roosevelt's Hyde Park estate, then (briefly) at the White House, before moving to Bethesda. For example, an article in the Washington Post observes:

They stayed briefly at [Roosevelt's] Hyde Park estate and then at the White House, before they settled into a Tudor-style mansion north of Bethesda, off a small road called the Rockville Pike.

It seems that while they were living at Bethesda, Harald attended the Whitehall School.

They arrived in New York aboard the American Legion on 28 August.

From late 1940 until 1945 the family lived in a house on a 105-acre estate named "Pook's Hill," in Bethesda. Several sites state that they lived there from October 1940, but do not quote sources. They were certainly living there by 12 November 1940, when the Pittston Gazette, and other newspapers, reported that President Roosevelt had visited for tea after laying the cornerstone of a new naval medical building at Bethesda.

(That property had been purchased by the Norwegian government and would be sold in 1946.)

So, they could not have lived at the White House for more than 2 months (late August to late October). It was probably rather less.

The Norwegian Royal family had been invited to the US by President Roosevelt. As such they would have been considered to be his guests. They would probably have been invited to the White House fairly often. He certainly seems to have visited them fairly often.

We have photographic evidence that Harald met, and played with, FDR's dog Fala on at least one occasion. Probably more often in fact. However, as to how well he knew the dog, I'm not sure that was ever recorded by history.

| improve this answer | |
  • Rockville Pike is an express way. It's a major thorough fare. – JMS Jan 10 '18 at 5:09
  • @JMS I'd be inclined to defer to the Washington Post in cases like this, but as I understand it, the Freeway dates from 1947 - after Crown Princess Märtha and her children had returned to Norway. Rockville Pike is considerably older. The description in the article presumably reflects the road as it was in 1940. Of course, they may also have been using the term ironically. – sempaiscuba Jan 10 '18 at 5:26

This Norwegian site (Royal House of Norway) states that:

While King Haakon and Crown Prince Olav stayed in London, the Crown Princess lived with the children in the outskirts of Washington, DC, until 1945, when peace was declared.

This would presumably be definitive.

| improve this answer | |
  • So he and his mother never lived at the White House? That's your answer? – JMS Jan 9 '18 at 23:55
  • @JMS: It seems that while he may have sojourned at the White House, he never lived there. – Pieter Geerkens Jan 10 '18 at 0:20
  • I have two sources saying the crowned Princess stayed at the White House. A different source says she and her children were invited by FDR to stay at the White House. I have a source saying FDR arranged for her trip to the US. She also traveled with him to a Churchill Summit. She also went to both Camp David, and his home in Hudson Valley. His family and friends teased him about her. They (Princes and Prince) were present when he was sworn into his 4th term in office in 1945.. – JMS Jan 10 '18 at 0:55
  • 2
    That they were obviously guests of FDR and Eleanor doesn't mean that they lived at the White House. – Pieter Geerkens Jan 10 '18 at 3:08
  • The WhiteHouseHistory Organization and the Pulitzer Prize winning author said that they lived at the White house during the war. For at least some period of time. – JMS Jan 10 '18 at 4:38

In her Pulitzer Prize-winning No Ordinary Time -- Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II. Doris Kearns Goodwin describes a WhiteHouse with the informality and intimacy of a small, intimate hotel," where houseguests came and even stayed for years:

The Permanent Guests occasionally had private visitors of their own for cocktails or for meals, but for the most part their lives revolved around the president and First Lady, who occupied adjoining suites in the southwest quarter of the second floor. On the third floor, in a cheerful room with slanted ceilings lived Missy LeHand, the president's personal secretary and longtime friend. The president's alter ego, Harry Hopkins, occupied the Lincoln suite, two doors away from the president's suit.... Lorena Hickok, Eleanor's great friend, occupied a corner room across from Eleanor's bedroom. This group of houseguests was continually augmented by a stream of visitors --- Winston Churchill, who often stayed for two or three weeks at a time; the President's mother, Sara Deleno Roosevelt; Eleanor's young friend Joe Lash; and Crown Princess Martha of Norway.


WhiteHouse Historical Association.
The Roosevelts further relaxed protocol for such exiled royals as Dutch Princess Juliana and Norwegian Crown Princess Martha who made the White House their home during World War II.


White House Schedule July 19th 1941 Crown Princess Martha of Norway is listed as House Guest


White House Schedule Dec 2nd 1942 FDR motoring with Princess Martha to "Pook's Hill" 6:10. followed by dinner which went on passed 12:25am..


White House Schedule Dec 25th 1942 lunch) ER and 15 Invited Guests - House Guests and Princess Martha and 3 children - Mr. Wedel, Mrs. Oestagaard and son


White House Schedule Dec 31 1942 7:40pm – 8:00pm H. R. H. Crown Prince Olav, Crown Princess Martha of Norway, followed by Dinner with Elenor and 21 guests, followed by Movies.

Looks like at some point she did get her own estate...

After Harry (Hopkins) Married Louise, "Diana Hopkins recalled, "FDR was more lonely than ever before." Though Hopkins was still living at the WhiteHouse, the relationship was not the same. Of coarse, Princess Martha was still available for conversation and companionship. Almost every weekend during the spring and early summer of 1942, the usher diaries reveal, the president spent the majority of his leisure time with Martha, either at her Pook's Hill estate, at the White House, or at Hyde Park.

It was a time of loneliness for Princess Martha as well. Though she filled her days with work for Norway-- giving speeches about Norway's struggle for freedom, visiting Norwegian marine stations in the U.S.A. and Canada entertaining Norwegian seamen posted on the East Coast, attending official banquets, hosting special events at the Norwegian Embassy--she was far away from her country, her husband, and her closest friends.

Both wer in search of companionship, and they found it in each other, During this period. Diana Hopkins was told, the president would ask Louise Hopkins to chaperone for visits with Martha. "No sooner would Louise return to the White House from her volunteer work as a nurse at Columbia Hospital, "Diana recalled, "than their would be a message that the president wanted her to join him for tea with Princess Martha immediately. There was no time even to get out of her uniform. She had to jump in a car and drive with the president to Martha's estate... Then they'd get there, and Princess Martha would say, 'Louise, why don't you go and see the children>' And so Louise would go and see the children, and the president and Martha would have tea, and this was one hell of a tough situation for [her]."


On the Morning of the 4th a clear and sunny day, the president's yacht found the spot, picking up Princess Martha and her brother Prince Carl of Sweden. Nearly twelve months had passed since Martha's arrival in the U.S. and in that time Roosevelt had seen more of this good-natured, pretty woman than any other person beyond his immediate White House circle.

| improve this answer | |
  • 2
    Well it would seem that this source is a crock - as Princess Juliana stayed at Stornoway House in the Ottawa suburb of Rockcliffe Park for nearly the whole war. It is well known that her daughter, Princess and later Queen Beatrice, was born in Ottawa General Hospital, special arrangements having been made by both the City and the Canadian Government to not invalidate Beatrice's eligibility to the Dutch monarchy. – Pieter Geerkens Jan 10 '18 at 3:12
  • By source being a crock are referring to the WhiteHouseHistory.org ? Or the Pulitzer Prize winning author? – JMS Jan 10 '18 at 4:13
  • FDR to Queen Wilhelmina 1939: "I am thinking much of you and the House of Orange in these critical days, and it occurs to me that in the event of the invasion of Holland you may care to have the Crown Princess and the children come to the United States temporarily to be completely safe against airplane raids. It would give Mrs. Roosevelt and me very great happiness to care for them over here as if they were members of our own family and they could come to us either in Washington or at our country place at Hyde Park." – JMS Jan 10 '18 at 4:24
  • The National Archives: fdr.blogs.archives.gov/2016/05/25/… ---------------- FDR was also GodFather to Crown Princess's third daughter – JMS Jan 10 '18 at 4:32
  • 1
    Remember polio? No-one with money and kids stayed in the city during summer months - they all went to a summer house outside the city for three months. – Pieter Geerkens Jan 10 '18 at 4:33

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.