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Western Animation / My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts

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My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts is a 1999 animated short film by Torill Kove. It was a co-production of Norway's Studio Magica and the National Film Board of Canada.

In the short, the narrator weaves a fanciful tale of her grandmother, Aslaug Bech, a Norwegian shirt presser. After newly independent Norway votes to have a monarchy, the Norwegians select Prince Carl of Denmark to be their king. Carl, newly christened King Haakon VII, seeks to make a good impression on his people, but his family's big balcony appearance is ruined when their shirts are all messy. After the shirts are sent out to Bech's laundry, she irons them neatly, and the king becomes popular with his people.

Eventually Bech figures out who all these nice shirts are for, and becomes very proud of her position doing the king's laundry. However, when the Nazis invade Norway in 1940, Haakon VII is forced to flee. The king makes it safely to England where he becomes a focus of resistance. Bech, now doing Nazi laundry back in Oslo, engages in resistance of her own—against Nazi shirts.


See also The Danish Poet, another animated short made by Kove and co-produced by Norway and the NFB. The King's Choice is a feature film about King Haakon VII and the quick decisions he had to make at this time.


  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Averted. After Prince Carl is selected to be king, they slap a crown on his head, and that's it. (The real Haakon VII had a traditional coronation.)
  • Based on a True Story: Sure, Aslaug Bech probably didn't organize a campaign to ruin German uniforms. But the German conquest of Norway is actually rendered pretty accurately—the Blucher being sunk in Oslo's harbor, the King hurriedly departing the capital by train, the German ambassador trying to get the King to surrender, the Luftwaffe bombing the King's headquarters, the King taking to the forests and eventually boarding a ship to England.
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  • Hero of Another Story: The narrator relates how her grandfather was good with horses. She says he told her it was because his ancestors were Portuguese Gypsies who escaped slavery and fled all the way to Norway on horseback. But as the cartoon shows the narrator's ancestors galloping away, she says "But that's another story," and the cartoon ends.
  • Horny Vikings: The narration notes that Norway hadn't had its own king for centuries, then shows a bunch of Vikings lopping off heads and shooting each other with arrows.
  • La Résistance: They're briefly shown doing more traditional Resistance activities like blowing up a bridge. Then Bech organizes a resistance group of rebellious launderers who sabotage German uniforms.
  • Narrator: Actress Mag Ruffman provided the voice of Torill Kove.
  • The Quisling: A newspaper headline about the quisling, Vidkun Quisling, can be seen in the King's newspaper.
  • Spot of Tea: The cartoon shows Queen Maud sipping a cup of tea, to emphasize that she is English.
  • What's Up, King Dude?: Haakon VII and his family carry their own luggage to the palace, and Haakon has to open the door with a key.


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