Danish–Icelandic Act of Union
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|History of Iceland|
The Danish–Icelandic Act of Union, a December 1, 1918 agreement signed by Iceland and Denmark, recognized Iceland as a fully sovereign state – the Kingdom of Iceland – freely associated to Denmark in a personal union with the Danish king. Iceland established its own flag, declared its neutrality and asked Denmark to represent its foreign affairs and defense interests. The Act would be up for revision in 1940 and could be revoked three years later if agreement was not reached.
While a few prominent Icelanders, such as Benedikt Sveinsson the younger, wanted to also sever the personal union with the Danish King, the Icelanders did not seriously pursue it. It was understood that the Danish King would not use the veto powers afforded to him by the Act of Union, the Icelanders considered it risky to become fully independent as a small state, and it was deemed unlikely that the Danes and the Danish King would consent to the full loss of Iceland.
Historian Gunnar Karlsson argues that Denmark was willing to grant Iceland sovereignty for two reasons. First, the self-determination of peoples had grown in importance with the end of World War I. Second, Iceland had shown that it was capable of governing its own affairs (starting with Home Rule in 1904) and relations with other states (during World War I when Iceland was cut off from Denmark).
The founding of the Republic
On June 17, 1944, during the occupation of Denmark by Nazi Germany, while itself occupied by the armed forces of the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, Iceland severed the ties to the Danish king and declared itself a republic.
- Jóhannesson, Guðni Th. (2016). Fyrstu forsetarnir. Sögufélagið. pp. 13–15.
- Karlsson, Gunnar (2000). History of Iceland. pp. 283–284.