Queen consort of Norway
Reign 17 January 1991 – present
(&000000000000002900000029 years, &0000000000000141000000141 days)
Consecration 23 June 1991 (aged 53)
Born 4 July 1937 (age 82)
Oslo, Norway
Spouse Harald V of Norway
Princess Märtha Louise
Crown Prince Haakon
House House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg
Father Karl August Haraldsen
Mother Dagny Ulrichsen
Religion Christian Lutheran
Norwegian Royal Family
Royal Arms of Norway.svg

HM The King*
HM The Queen*

HH Princess Astrid, Mrs. Ferner

*Member of the Norwegian Royal House

v · d · e

Queen Sonja of Norway (née Sonja Haraldsen, born 4 July 1937) is the wife of King Harald V of Norway.

Early lifeEdit

Sonja was born in 4 July 1937 at Red Cross Clinic in Oslo, the daughter of clothing merchant Karl August Haraldsen (1889–1959) and Dagny Ulrichsen (1896–1994).[1] Karl August Haraldsen (b. April 5, 1889 in Solum, Skien, d. March 9, 1959 in Oslo) was a Norwegian clothing trader and department store manager. He was the son of a ship captain, Halvor Haraldsen (1854 - 1931) and wife Josefine Nielsen (1854 - 1939). He was the proprietor and manager of the renowned women's wear store Karl A. Haraldsen AS in Oslo.

She had 3 siblings:

  • Haakon Haraldsen (1921–2016),[2] her eldest brother. He was the father of CEO Karl Otto Haraldsen, himself stepfather of TV personality Pia Haraldsen.[3]
  • Gry Henriksen (1924–1971), her elder sister. She was the mother of 4 children, including Dag Swanstrøm, former CEO of Synnøve Finden.
  • Karl Herman Haraldsen (1929–1936), who died in a boating accident.

Queen Sonja grew up at 1B Tuengen Allé in the district of Vinderen in Oslo.

Education Edit

She completed her lower secondary schooling in 1954. She received a diploma in dressmaking and tailoring at the Oslo Vocational School, as well as a diploma from École Professionelle des Jeunes Filles in Lausanne, Switzerland. There, she studied accounting, fashion design, and social science.

She returned to Norway for further studies and received an undergraduate degree (French, English and Art History) from the University of Oslo.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

Sonja Haraldsen first met Crown Prince Harald in June 1959 at a party hosted by a friend, Johan Stenersen. In August 1959, when the Crown Prince graduated from the Norwegian Military Academy, he invited Sonja to attend the graduation ball and the couple was photographed together.

The relationship between the Crown Prince and Sonja was controversial as many people including politicians and journalists, felt the Crown Prince should marry a princess and not a Norwegian commoner. The controversy continued for years as did the relationship despite the media’s attempts to promote a royal marriage with either of the Greek princesses Sophia and Irene.[4]

They had been dating for nine years, although this had been kept secret because of opposition to her non-royal status. It was not until nine years later, however, that she and the Crown Prince were given permission to marry.

Engagement Edit

Main article: Engagement of Crown Prince Harald of Norway and Sonja Haraldsen

She became engaged to then Crown Prince Harald in March 1968. The engagement between Miss Haraldsen and Crown Prince Harald triggered a debate regarding the future of the monarchy in Norway. There was far less resistance to the idea of the Crown Prince choosing a commoner to be his wife than many had feared. The Norwegian people immediately accepted Crown Princess Sonja as a member of the Royal Family.

The Crown Prince made it clear to his father, King Olav V, that he would remain unmarried for life unless he could marry her.[5] This would in effect have put an end to the rule of his family and probably to the monarchy in Norway, as he was the sole heir to the throne. Faced with having to choose one of his relatives from the Danish Royal Family, the Dukes of Schleswig-Holstein or even the Grand Dukes of Oldenburg as his new heir in place of his son, Olav V consulted the government for advice and the result was that the couple got engaged and later married.

Marriage Edit

Main article: Wedding of Crown Prince Harald of Norway and Sonja Haraldsen

The wedding between Sonja and Harald took place on 29 August 1968 at 5:00 pm[4] at Oslo Domkirke in Oslo, Norway. She thus acquired the style of Royal Highness and the title of Crown Princess of Norway.[1]

Sonja Haraldsen’s bridal gown, created by Oslo clothing store Molstad, was simple and classically styled, with three-quarter length sleeves and a long train, and was decorated with white pearls and embroidery. She wore a long tulle veil and carried a bouquet in shades of white, with white roses, freesias, lilies of the valley and orchids. The bride chose not to wear a tiara.[4]

Children Edit

Sonja and Harald have 2 children:

As Crown Princess of NorwayEdit

Immediately after the wedding, the new Crown Princess began to carry out her royal duties, traveling extensively in Norway and abroad. In 1972 she was involved in establishing Princess Märtha Louise’s Fund, which provides assistance to disabled children in Norway. She has taken active part in large-scale initiatives to raise funds for international refugees and spent time in the 1970s visiting Vietnamese boat refugees in Malaysia.[1]

From 1987 to 1990, Crown Princess Sonja served as Vice President of the Norwegian Red Cross. She was responsible for the organization's international activities. She took part in a Red Cross delegation to Botswana and Zimbabwe in 1989.[1]

As Queen Edit

Following the death of King Olav V on 17 January 1991, Sonja became Norway's first queen consort in 53 years. Queen Sonja accompanied King Harald V when he swore his oath to uphold the Constitution in the Storting on 21 January 1991. It was the first time in 69 years that a Norwegian queen had been present in the Storting. Queen Sonja has accompanied the King to the formal opening of the fall session of the Storting and the reading of the Speech from the Throne since his accession.

In accordance with their own wishes, the King and Queen were consecrated in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on 23 June 1991. Following the consecration, the King and Queen conducted a 10-day tour of Southern Norway. In 1992, the entire Royal Family conducted a 22-day tour of Norway’s four northernmost counties.

The Queen accompanies the King on official state visits abroad. She acts as the hostess when foreign heads of state officially visit Norway. The Queen has also given lectures on Norway as a tourist destination on several occasions during official state visits abroad.

In 2005, Queen Sonja became the first queen ever to visit Antarctica. The Queen was there to open the Norwegian Troll research station in the country's Antarctic dependency, Queen Maud Land. The Queen flew in on one of the Royal Norwegian Air Force's C-130H Hercules transport aircraft, landing at Troll airfield.

Queen Sonja’s School Award was established in 2006 and is awarded to schools who have "demonstrated excellence in its efforts to promote inclusion and equality".[6]

In 2017 Queen Sonja was awarded the Trysil-Knut Prize. She is the first woman to ever receive the award.

The Queen is appointed a Rear Admiral in the Royal Norwegian Navy and a Brigadier in the Norwegian army. She has undergone a basic officer training course and has participated in exercises.

Public life Edit

Patronages Edit

Queen Sonja is the patron of:[7]

  • Elverum Music Festival
  • The MiRA Resource Centre for Black, Immigrant and Refugee Women
  • The National Association of Folk Music and Dance
  • The Norwegian Folk Art and Craft Association
  • The Norwegian Horticultural Society
  • The Norwegian Institute in Athens
  • The Norwegian Institute in Rome
  • The Norwegian museums association
  • The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet
  • Oslo Chamber Music Festival
  • Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Red Cross Nordic United World College
  • The Royal Norwegian Society for Development
  • The Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments
  • The Norwegian Youth Orchestra Association (UNOF)

Music Edit

Another of the Queen’s major interests is music. She is patron of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Oslo Chamber Music Festival, the Norwegian Traditional Music and Dance Association, the Norwegian Youth Orchestra Association and Elverum Music Festival. She is also actively involved in the Queen Sonja International Music Competition. This competiton is held every other year and attracts outstanding opera talents from all over the world. Her Majesty follows the competition and presents the prizes to the winners.[8]

The then-Crown Princess Sonja established this music competition (now Queen Sonja International Music Competition) in 1988. It was originally for pianists, but in 1995 the competition became only for singers. The jury consists of diverse authoritative figures in opera and the winners receive a cash amount and prestigious engagements at Norwegian music institutions.[8]

Arts Edit

She is a longtime avid photographer and has a keen interest in art. She is a printmaker, and held exhibitions with artists Kjell Nupen and Ørnulf Opdahl in 2011 and 2013. The Queen Sonja Nordic Art Award was established in 2011 with Tiina Kivinen from Finland being the first recipient in 2012. The prize will be awarded every other year.

In 2017, The Queen Sonja Art Stable was opened, a venue which will function as a scene for arts and culture. Together with King Harald, the queen has for decades attempted with establishing a palace museum in Oslo.

Cultural interests Edit

Queen Sonja has many interests that she combines with her duties as Norway’s First Lady. The Queen is particularly interested in art and culture, and attend art exhibitions and cultural events both in Norway and abroad as her programme will allow. She is also concerned with monuments of the past, and is patron of the Society for the Preservation of Ancient Norwegian Monuments.

The Queen is greatly interested in the visual arts. Works from her private art collection were exhibited at the Henie-Onstad Art Centre at Høvikodden, near Oslo in 2001 and 2012, and at Scandinavian House in New York in 2005. In 2011, the Queen established Her Majesty Queen Sonja’s Art Award in cooperation with artists Kjell Nupen, Ørnulf Opdahl and Ole Larsen. The award was initially presented to Nordic artists working in a paper-based format. The first recipient was Finnish graphic artist Tiina Kivinen in 2012. In 2014, the prize became an international distinction and was renamed the Queen Sonja Print Award. The first international recipient was US visual artist Tauba Auerbach in 2016.

The Foundation behind the Queen Sonja Print Award seeks to generate interest in and promote the development of graphic art. The prize is currently believed to be the world’s largest graphic art award.

In recent years the Queen herself has become a graphic artist and ceramicist, and her works have been on display in a number of exhibitions in Norway and abroad.

Outdoor activities Edit

In Norway, the Queen is renowned for her interest in nature, outdoor recreation and the environment. There is scarcely a place in the country that the Queen has not visited. Several hiking trails and nature paths bear her name, and she is an honorary member of the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT). The Queen’s concern about nature conservation and the environment has become more visible in recent years through her participation in clean-up actions.

The Queen is a keen photographer, and often takes photographs of her trips in Norway. On several occasions, in Norway and abroad, Queen Sonja has given lectures and talks on Norway as a tourist destination at which she has shown her private photographs.

Titles, styles, honors, and armsEdit

Titles and stylesEdit

  • 4 July 1937 – 29 August 1968: Miss Sonja Haraldsen
  • 29 August 1968 – 17 January 1991: Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Norway
  • 17 January 1991 – present: Her Majesty The Queen


In 1982 she was awarded the Nansen Refugee Award. In 2007, she received the Holmenkollen medal with Simon Ammann, Frode Estil, Odd-Bjørn Hjelmeset, and her husband, King Harald V.

Norwegian honors Edit

Foreign honors Edit

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Her Majesty Queen Sonja. Royal Court of Norway
  2. Dronning Sonjas bror er død. Aftenposten
  3. Pias pappa fra Bergen. Bergensavisen
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Wedding of King Harald V of Norway and Sonja Haraldsen. Unofficial Royalty
  5. Before they were royal: The life of Queen Sonja of Norway. Royal Central
  6. Queen Sonja's School Award. Royal Court of Norway
  7. Organisations under the patronage of HM The Queen. Royal Court of Norway
  8. 8.0 8.1 The Queen Sonja International Music Competition. Royal Court of Norway

External linksEdit

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