History of Belgium and Belgians in Norway

This page provides a concise history of Belgium and Belgians in Norway.

The Belgian and Norwegian Royal families

The Belgian and Norwegian Royal families are closely linked: King Albert II and King Harald are first cousins. Their mothers, Queen Astrid (1905-1935) and Princess Märtha (1901-1954) were sisters, born Princesses of Sweden.

The Belgian monarchs came on a State visit to Norway in April 1997 and the Norwegian King and Queen visited Belgium in May 2003.


The Norwegian adventure of Fina started in 1965 when it received together with Phillips a participation in the oil field Ekofisk.

From 1969 until 1975, Fina was also involved in exploration activities in Svalbard.

Norske Fina celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1984. In 1987, the firm runs its own seismic surveys in interesting areas and obtains results of very high quality. The firm also takes part in the development of a high-tech geochemestrical instrument called “Geofina Hydrocarbonmeter”.

Following extensive negotiations with Norwegian authorities in the spring of 1988, the company is awarded an operatorship for the first time on the Norwegian shelf. For the first time also, Fina participates in Offshore Northern Seas in Stavanger. The company also signs a cooperation agreement with among others the University of Ghent for the development of methods of production for halibut fry. Projects in geo-disciplines and reservoir technology are implemented and managed by the firm.

In 1990, Fina establishes a professorship in petroleum economy and administration at the Norwegian School of Management. The company also participates in a crisis organisation for handling accidents, including accidents caused by pollution of the environment. Fina continues supporting culture in Norway, notably by granting its sponsorship to an exhibition in Tromsø dealing with the expedition of Adrien de Gerlache and Roald Amundsen in the Antarctica. Fina also gives its sponsorship to the Ultima festival of contemporary music.

In 1999, the TOTAL group merges with Fina. The offices of Fina in Stavanger are closed down. And so ends the Belgian-Norwegian adventure of Fina.

Adrien de Gerlache and Roald Amundsen

Adrien de Gerlache, a lieutenant in the Belgian navy, wanted to organize his own expedition of scientific exploration in the South Pole. He contacted the Geographic Society of Brussels in order to collect the necessary funds and acquired in Norway a three-masted ship that was equipped for seal hunting. This ship called PATRIA was deeply renovated and was renamed BELGICA.

On 29 July 1896, de Gerlache received a letter from a young Norwegian of 25 years old, Roald Amundsen who wanted to be part of the expedition, something that was accepted. He was to become the second-lieutenant. The Belgica left Antwerp on 16 August 1897 and reached the Antarctic waters on the following 20 January. Among the 19 members of the crew, six were Norwegians.

Adrien de Gerlache and his crew were the first to spend a winter in the Antarctic and to bring back essential data for the knowledge of these regions. After having spent a forced wintering in the ice of the ice floe, the ship found finally, on 28 February 1898, a passage to the free waters.  Repurchased by a Norwegian firm in the beginning of the century, the Belgica sank during the second world war off Harstad. Its anchor is today exhibited in the polar museum of Tromsø,

For Amundsen it was the beginning of a long career of explorer. In 1911, he became together with  three companions the first man to reach the South Pole.

At the moment the possibilities to lift the “Belgica” are examined.

Belgium and Kirsten Flagstad

The actual residence of the Ambassador of Belgium, which belongs to the Belgian State, is the old house of Kirsten Flagstad, a renowned Norwegian soprano, who made a career in Scandinavia and in the United States. She performed works of Wagner. The 100 Norwegian Crowns notes are illustrated by her portrait.

Belgium and the Nobel Peace Prize

In 1904, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the International Law Institute that had been founded in 1873 in Ghent; its headquarters were then located in Leuven (Louvain). The Nobel Prize was awarded in recognition of the Institute’s action in favour of the arbitration between states, a peaceful mean to solve conflicts.

In 1909, the prize was awarded to Auguste Beernaert, former prime minister, member of the International Arbitration Court in Den Hague.

In 1913, the prize was awarded to Henri La Fontaine, senator, President of the Permanent International Peace Bureau.

In 1958, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Father Dominique Pire, born in Dinant, because of his commitment to the refugees of Eastern Europe.

In 1999, the prize was awarded to Médecins Sans Frontières. One of its five operational sections is located in Belgium.

Pierre Alechinsky

Belgian painting is present in Norway, notably with works of Pierre Alechinsky (1927 - ). In 1994, he gave a donation of 80 drawings to the Henie-Onstad Foundation near Oslo.