Article | Last updated: 2013-01-30
At the dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden, the pattern of the Norwegian prime minister also being chief of a ministry continued as the general rule.
The exception was Mr. Christian Michelsen during the months June-November 1905. By royal decree of 22 September 1939, the prime minister was from 1 October that year relieved of being chief of any ministry.
By government decree of 7 June 1905, it was decided that the Ministry of Trade’s department of foreign affairs should be placed under the political responsibility of Prime Minister Jørgen Løvland, until now Norwegian prime minister in Stockholm. On 1 December 1905 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was formally established.
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Since the Prime Minister's deputy, Prime Minister Løvland, was appointed minister of foreign affairs, the pattern of the minister of foreign affairs as the prime minister’s permanent deputy was thus established, according to the Swedish system at the time. In the Swedish Council of State at the time, the minister of foreign affairs - until 1876 with the title "prime minister for foreign affairs" - ranked as number two after the prime minister.
The further rank order in the government followed, as in the years before 1905, the Constitution’s prescribed pattern of seniority and age.
Secretariat to the Council of State
The State Secretariat, which from 1 January 1926 had its name changed to the Secretariat to the Council of State, continued as the Government’s central office.
During the King's and the Government's flight northwards after the German attack on Norway on 9 April 1940, the secretary to the Council of State applied for – and was granted - leave of absence. A civil servant of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was appointed acting secretary to the Council of State, remaining in office during the rest of the flight, during the years in exile in London and during the first months after the Government had returned to Oslo in 1945. The secretariat administratively belonged to the Ministry of Justice.
Office of the Prime Minister
As the prime minister by royal decree of 9 September 1939 was relieved of being chief of a ministry as of 2 October that year, the post as secretary to the head of government (1829-1906) was re-established, now as a full-time post as secretary to the prime minister. Sharing the antechamber with the Council of State Secretariat, this small secretariat was now termed the Office of the Prime Minister.
During the King’s and the Government’s flight northwards after the German attack on Norway on 9 April 1940, the prime minister let his secretary stay behind in Tromsø before leaving for London. During their exile years in London 1940-1945, the prime minister i.a. had civil servants from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as his secretaries. The staff of the Norwegian Government Information Office in London, reporting directly to the prime minister, also served as secretariat to the head of government.