Kingdom of Iceland

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Kingdom of Iceland
Konungsríkið Ísland (Icelandic)
Kongeriget Island (Danish)
Anthem: " Ó Guð vors lands "
("O, God of Our Land")
Kingdom of Iceland (1942).svg
The Kingdom of Iceland in 1942
Status Personal union with Denmark
Capital Reykjavík
Common languages Icelandic, Danish
Church of Iceland
(state religion)
Government Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Kristján X
Sveinn Björnsson
Prime Minister  
 1918–1920 (first)
Jón Magnússon
 1942–1944 (last)
Björn Þórðarson
Legislature Althing
Historical era Interwar period / WWII
1 December 1918
9 April 1940
10 May 1940
20 May 1944
17 June 1944
 1944 [1]
Currency Króna
ISO 3166 code IS
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of Denmark.svg Danish Iceland
Iceland Flag of Iceland.svg
Monarchy of Iceland
Kingdom of Iceland Coat of Arms.svg
Kong Christian 10.jpg
Kristján X
Style His Majesty
First monarch Kristján X
Last monarch Kristján X
Formation1 December 1918
Abolition17 June 1944
Residence Christiansborg Palace
Appointer Hereditary

The Kingdom of Iceland (Icelandic : Konungsríkið Ísland; Danish : Kongeriget Island) was a sovereign and independent country under a constitutional and hereditary monarchy that was established by the Act of Union with Denmark signed on 1 December 1918. [2] It lasted until 17 June 1944 when a national referendum established the Republic of Iceland in its place. [3]


Under a personal union, due to the Act of Union, the monarch was simultaneously monarch of Denmark. [2] The Parliament of Iceland asked that Denmark represent Iceland internationally, and day-to-day matters were delegated to a Danish plenipotentiary for Icelandic affairs based in Reykjavík, and – after the German invasion of Denmark in 1940 – a regent was appointed. [2]


Origins of Danish rule

Because of the Kalmar Union, Iceland had been under the control of the Crown of Denmark since 1380, [4] although formally it had been a Norwegian possession until 1814. [5] In 1874, one thousand years after the first acknowledged settlement, Denmark granted Iceland home rule. The constitution, written the same year, was revised in 1903 and the extent of Iceland's home rule increased in 1904. [6]

Establishment of the kingdom

On 1 December 1918, the Act of Union, an agreement with Denmark, recognized Iceland as a fully sovereign state, an independent country in personal union with Denmark through a common monarch. The Kingdom of Iceland established its own flag and coat of arms and asked that Denmark represent its foreign affairs and defence interests on its behalf while retaining full control over its foreign affairs and defence. Iceland opened its first Embassy in 1920. The Act would be reviewed in 1940 and could be revoked three years later if agreement to continue it could not be reached. [7]

The Second World War, British occupation and the establishment of the republic

During the first year of the Second World War, Iceland strictly enforced a position of neutrality and took action against both British and German forces that violated it. The German invasion of Denmark on 9 April 1940 and subsequent occupation severed communications between Iceland and Denmark. [2] As a result, on 10 April, the Althing passed two resolutions investing the Icelandic cabinet with the power of head of state and declaring that the Kingdom of Iceland would accept full responsibility for both foreign policy and coastal surveillance. On 10 May 1940, Operation Fork was launched by the United Kingdom when military forces sailed into Reykjavík Harbour and began an invasion of Iceland. [2] The Government of Iceland issued a protest against what it called a "flagrant violation" of Icelandic neutrality. On the day of the invasion, Prime Minister Hermann Jónasson read a radio announcement instructing Icelanders to treat the British troops as guests. On 15 May 1941, the Althing adopted a law creating the position of regent for Sveinn Björnsson in order to represent the monarchy. [2]

At its peak, Britain had approximately 25,000 troops stationed in Iceland, all but eliminating unemployment in Reykjavík and other strategically important places. In July 1941, the Althingi adopted the American–Icelandic defence agreement, passing responsibility for Iceland's defence to the United States. [2]

Following a constitutional referendum in May 1944, Iceland formally became a republic on 17 June 1944. King Christian X sent a message of congratulations to the Icelandic people. [8]

Titles of the Crown


See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of Iceland</span> Occurrences and people in Iceland throughout history

The recorded history of Iceland began with the settlement by Viking explorers and the people they enslaved from the east, particularly Norway and the British Isles, in the late ninth century. Iceland was still uninhabited long after the rest of Western Europe had been settled. Recorded settlement has conventionally been dated back to 874, although archaeological evidence indicates Gaelic monks from Ireland, known as papar according to sagas, had settled Iceland earlier.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Althing</span> Supreme legislature of Iceland

The Alþingi is the supreme national parliament of Iceland. It is one of the oldest surviving parliaments in the world. The Althing was founded in 930 at Þingvellir, situated approximately 45 kilometres (28 mi) east of what later became the country's capital, Reykjavík. Even after Iceland's union with Norway in 1262, the Althing still held its sessions at Þingvellir until 1800, when it was discontinued. It was restored in 1844 by royal decree and moved to Reykjavík. The restored unicameral legislature first came together in 1845 and after 1874 operated in two chambers with an additional third chamber taking on a greater role as the decades passed until 1991 when Althing became once again unicameral. The present parliament building, the Alþingishús, was built in 1881, made of hewn Icelandic stone. The unicameral parliament has 63 members, and is elected every four years based on party-list proportional representation. The current speaker of the Althing is Birgir Ármannsson.

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Björn Jónsson was minister for Iceland from 31 March 1909 to 14 March 1911. He was the father of Sveinn Björnsson, the only regent of Iceland and first president of Iceland. Björn became Minister for Iceland after Hannes Hafstein and his supporters suffered losses in the elections of 1908, where the voters rejected the draft of a new constitution. Björn was forced to resign after forcing the General Director of the National Bank, Tryggvi Gunnarsson, out of that post due to heavy criticism of their supporters. Björn and other opponents of the Draft won a landslide victory in the 1908 elections. He served as speaker of the Althing in 1909.

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Icelandic National Day is an annual holiday in Iceland which commemorates the foundation of The Republic of Iceland on 17 June 1944. This date also marks the end of Iceland's centuries old ties with Denmark. The date was chosen to coincide with the birthday of Jón Sigurðsson, a major figure of Icelandic culture and the leader of the 19th century Icelandic independence movement.

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This article is about the history of Icelandic nationality.

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