Article | Last updated: 2011-04-13
The Norwegian Constitution of 4 November 1814 introduced the title “statsminister” (literally minister of state although translated into English as prime minister) for the presiding councillor of state, according to Swedish practice.
During the eight months with a separate Norwegian council of state before this, from 2 March 1814, the presiding councillor of state had not had a specific title. Befor the union with Denmark had been finally established in 1536, "Chairman of the Council of the Realm" had been used about the corresponding office.
From 1814 until 1873 the Norwegian Prime Minister had his permanent base at the Norwegian Council of State Division in Stockholm, as the King of the two union states resided there. In the Prime Minister's absence, the Government in Christiania (Oslo) was led by the presiding councillor of state there, with the title of first minister.
When the office as first minister in 1873 was transformed into an office as prime minister, the Norwegian Prime Minister in Stockholm became second in rank to the Prime Minister in Christiania. The arrangement of a Norwegian prime minister and a council of state division in Stockholm was abolished when the union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved in 1905.
In 1814 there were as many as three members of the Swedish Council of State holding the title of “statsminister”. These were the presiding councillor of state (i.e. the prime minister), the "statsminister" of justice (from 1876 termed councillor of state and chief of the Ministry of Justice) and the "statsminister” of foreign affairs (from 1876 termed minister of foreign affairs).
By the fact that “statsminister” in Norway was linked only to the leading minister, "statsminister" was here now established as title for the office which in other countries is termed prime minister, “premier ministre”, “Ministerpresident” or “president du conseil”.
In Great Britain minister of state (“statsminister”) is in use as title for junior ministers in several ministries. When Denmark in 1918 introduced the title of “statsminister”, this was done according to Swedish and Norwegian practice. The leading Danish minister had then since 1856 been titled president of the Council ("konseilspræsident"), while he in the period 1848-56 had held the title prime minister ("premierminister").