I researched a little of this post last week and then sitting on the top deck of a London bus in Trafalgar Square this weekend two girls sitting in the row behind me started talking.
‘That’s a massive Christmas tree. They must import it,’ said one.
‘Where does it come from?’ asked the other.
‘Dunno,’ the first girl replied.
I couldn’t resist and turned around and told them that the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree comes from Norway. They thanked me for my information and I turned around and resisted the urge to butt into their conversation again.
The tree is a Norwegian Spruce and is grown in the forests outside Oslo. It is chosen several months, or even years before felling as it has to be perfect. It is known affectionately as ‘The Queen of the Forest’. It stands over 20 metres tall and is around fifty-sixty years old.
Londoners have received the tree every year since 1947 as a thank you for the support the British gave neutral Norway during World War II.
In April 1940 Germany invaded Norway and attempted to capture King Haakon VII, the royal family and members of the Government in the small town of Nybergsund. The King sought refuge in London and led the resistance from there. In 1945, after Norway was liberated, the King and members of the Norwegian Government returned home on HMS Norfolk.
Whilst the tree has been commonplace in Trafalgar Square since 1947, Norwegian underground fighters sent trees to King Haakon VII, the Norwegian Embassy and one for Trafalgar Square in 1943.
Did you know that there is a British link to the Norwegian royal family? King Edward VII’s daughter Princess Maud married Prince Carl of Denmark – who became King Haakon VII of Norway. Maud and King Haakon were the aunt and uncle of King George VI, who reigned in the UK during World War II.
I wonder if George VI was influenced by his father’s experience when he refused to allow the Russian royal family refuge in the UK during the revolution of 1917? Tsar Nicholas II and his family were murdered in 1918.
Images author’s own unless stated