The Norge was the Norwegian people's gift to King Haakon VII in 1947. The yacht is owned by the king but maintained and manned by the Royal Norwegian Navy. Originally built in 1937 in the UK for Thomas Sopwith, she served in the Royal Navy as an armed yacht during the Second World War.
The vessel was built by Camper and Nicholsons in Gosport, Hampshire as a luxury yacht for Sopwith, the wealthy British aviation engineer and industrialist, who was then chairman of the Hawker Siddeley Aircraft Company.
One of the world's largest privately owned motor yachts of its time, it was intended for leisure cruising and for Sopwith to use as a base at ocean racing events, in which he was a keen patron and participant. The yacht's name was MY Philante, a portmanteau of the names of the owner's wife and son: Phil, short for "Phyllis"; an, short for "and"; t and e for "Thomas Edward".
She crossed the Atlantic in the same year for Sopwith's unsuccessful attempt to win the Americas Cup as helmsman of his new J-class yacht, Endeavour II. During the passage home, Philante's skipper died and was buried at sea. In 1939, Philante was used as a base for the organising committee of the Teignmouth Regatta in which Sopwith was racing his yacht Tomahawk. The regatta ended on 1 September, the day that Nazi Germany invaded Poland, precipitating the UK's entry into the Second World War. The Admiralty approached Sopwith with a view to taking over the Philante as an armed yacht; Sopwith agreed to sell the vessel to the Royal Navy, although some sources state that she was requisitioned or donated as a gift to the nation.