Sonja Haraldsen became Crown Princess Sonja when she married Crown Prince Harald on 29 August 1968. Their engagement triggered a debate on the future of the monarchy in Norway. However, there was much less criticism than many had feared when the heir to the Norwegian throne chose a wife who was a commoner.
From the very start, Crown Princess Sonja was accepted by the entire Norwegian population as a member of their beloved Royal Family.
Queen Sonja is the daughter of Dagny and Karl Haraldsen. She was born in Oslo on 4 July 1937. She grew up at Vinderen Oslo, took her lower secondary school diploma in 1954, and studied dressmaking and tailoring at the Oslo Vocational School. She received a diploma from the Swiss Ecole Professionelle des Jeunes Filles, a women´s college in Lausanne which offered social sciences, accounting and fashion design.
Later she took her upper secondary school diploma as an external candidate and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Oslo, where she studied French, English and art history.
As Crown Princess, she carried out a number of official duties over the years, either together with her father-in-law, King Olav, or her husband, or on her own. She and Crown Prince Harald opened many doors for Norwegian export industries.
Her Majesty has travelled extensively both in Norway and abroad, and is patron of a number of organizations. In 1972 Crown Princess Sonja participated in the establishment of a fund in her daughter´s name, HRH Princess Märtha Louise´s Fund, which is devoted to helping disabled Norwegian children. She is deeply concerned about the plight of refugees and immigrants and frequently visits institutions for the elderly, children and the mentally retarded.
In the 1970s she took an active part in several large fund-raising drives for the benefit of refugees. To gain a first-hand impression of the refugee situation, she visited several sites, including a camp for Vietnamese boat refugees in Malaysia.
THE NANSEN MEDAL
In 1982 she was awarded the Nansen Medal by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for her efforts. In connection with this award, she also received USD 50,000, which she donated for the construction of schools for refugees in Tanzania.
From 1987 to 1990 Crown Princess Sonja served as Vice President of the Norwegian Red Cross. As the person responsible for the organization´s international activities, she accompanied a Red Cross delegation to Zimbabwe and Botswana in 1989 to study the work being done at several rehabilitation centres for the disabled. These are projects that receive funding from Norway.
THE 1994 WINTER OLYMPICS
At the beginning of the 1990s, the Queen participated in the planning of cultural activities in connection with the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. This task was one of her responsibilities as honorary chairman of the Olympic Committee´s cultural committee. The Queen was an eager spectator during several of the Olympic events.
OATH OF ALLEGIANCE AND CONSECRATION
On 21 January 1991, King Harald took his oath of allegiance to the Constitution. Queen Sonja accompanied him at this historic event which took place in the national assembly - the Storting. It had been 69 years since a queen had last entered the national assembly. Queen Sonja has also attended subsequent ceremonial openings of the Parliament.
At his own wish, King Harald was consecrated on 23 June 1991 in the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. Later in the year, the Royal Couple went on a ten-day post-consecration tour in the southern half of Norway. The following year, they completed the tour with a 22-day trip to the country´s four northern counties. As King and Queen, Harald and Sonja have carried out numerous representation duties at home and abroad.
Being Queen of Norway is a full-time job that involves travelling, speeches, official visits and audiences, as well as acting as hostess at a wide variety of functions at Skaugum, the Royal Family´s estate in Asker, and at the Royal Palace.
Preparations for all these duties require a thorough study of historical facts and other relevant data.
Queen Sonja also has a wide range of personal interests, which she combines gracefully with her duties as Norway´s First Lady. For example, she is extremely interested in art and interior design.
Every year the Queen enjoys long hikes and ski trips in the Norwegian mountains. She is also a certified skiing instructor.
The King and Queen have two children, Princess Märtha Louise (born 22 September 1971) and Crown Prince Haakon (born 20 July 1973).
B I O G R A P H I C A L D A T A
- Born: 4 July 1937
- Baptized: 29 August 1937 in Ris Church, Oslo
- Confirmed: 10 May 1953
- 1954: Lower secondary school diploma
- 1954 - 55: Oslo Vocational School
- 1961: Upper secondary school diploma
- 1971: Bachelor of Arts degree
- 19 March 1968: Engaged to be married
- 29 August 1968: Married
- Children: Princess Märtha Louise
Born 22 September 1971
- Crown Prince Haakon
Born 20 July 1973
- Consecrated in the Nidaros Cathedral on 23 June 1991