You might think you’d reached the pinnacle of your career when you became colonel-in-chief of the Norwegian King’s Guard, but not Nils Olav he’s been knighted this week as well!

You may wonder why I’m even bothering to comment on this subject! Nils Olav is a penguin!

According to King Harald the Fifth of Norway, Nils as a penguin:

“in every way qualifed to receive the honour and dignity of a knighthood.”

How did all this come about?

It all started when Norway presented Edinburgh Zoo with it’s first king penguin in 1913, the year of it’s opening.

In 1961 a lieutenant from the Norwegian King’s Guard, Nils Egelien was in Edinburgh for the Military Tattoo and became interested in the penguin colony at Edinburgh Zoo. When they returned in 1972 the unit adopted the penguin and named him Nils Olav, in honour of Nils Egelien and King Olav V of Norway.

Nils Olav was given the rank of lance corporal, and has been promoted each time the Guard returns to Edinburgh for the tattoo:

Unfortunately Nils Olav died shortly after his promotion to sergeant, and his place of honour was taken by Nils Olav II, a two year old near double, who continued his rise through the ranks:

  • 1993 – Regimental Sergeant Major
  • 2005 – Colonel-in-Chief

Clearly he is the first penguin to hold this rank in the Norwegian Army!