Martha was born a Swedish princess who married Prince Olav of Norway in 1929 at age 28. The princess along with two daughters and one son fled Norway in 1940 shortly before the Germans invaded. Olav and the Norwegian government went to London.
U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt offered Martha asylum. The ship, which included 800 Americans, was escorted to New York City’s harbor by two destroyers. The family stayed at FDR’s Hyde Park estate and then the White House before opting for nearby Pook’s Hill estate in Bethesda, Md. Novelist Gore Vidal called Martha “the last love of Roosevelt.”
The life-sized statue was donated by Norway to the Norwegian American Foundation in 2005 on the 100th anniversary of the country’s independence from Sweden. The U.S. was among the earlier countries to recognize Norway.