Queen Sonja of Norway

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Dronning Sonja - Kino 2012 (cropped).JPG
Queen Sonja in 1999
Queen consort of Norway
Tenure17 January 1991 – present
Benediction23 June 1991[a]
BornSonja Haraldsen
(1937-07-04) 4 July 1937 (age 85)
Oslo, Norway
(m. 1968)
HouseGlücksburg (by marriage)[2]
FatherKarl August Haraldsen
MotherDagny Ulrichsen

Sonja (born Sonja Haraldsen on 4 July 1937) is Queen of Norway since 17 January 1991 as the wife of King Harald V.[3]

Sonja and the then Crown Prince Harald had dated for nine years prior to their marriage in 1968. They had kept their relationship a secret due to the controversy of Sonja's status as a commoner. Harald had told his father, King Olav V, that he would remain unmarried if his father did not grant consent to marry Sonja.[4] Upon their marriage, Sonja became crown princess and later the queen of Norway upon her husband's accession to the throne in 1991. The couple have two children together: Princess Märtha Louise and Crown Prince Haakon.

As queen, Sonja holds patronage with up to fifteen organisations.[5] Sonja has also served as Vice President of the Norwegian Red Cross from 1987 to 1990. She is also known for her interest in music, art and culture, having founded the Queen Sonja International Music Competition and the Queen Sonja Print Award. She is also a graphic artist and ceramicist, with many of her works being featured in exhibitions across Norway and other countries.[3]

Early life[edit]

Sonja Haraldsen was born on 4 July 1937 in Oslo, the daughter of clothing merchant Karl August Haraldsen (1875–1959)[6] and Dagny Ulrichsen (1898–1994).[3] She had three siblings, Haakon Haraldsen (1921–2016),[7][8] Gry Henriksen (1924–1971)[9] and Karl Herman Haraldsen (1929–1936, who died in a boating accident). She grew up at Tuengen Allé 1B in the district of Vinderen in Oslo and completed her lower secondary schooling in 1954. She received a diploma in dressmaking and tailoring at the Oslo Vocational School, and a diploma from École Professionnelle des Jeunes Filles (a finishing school) 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.[3]


In June 1959 she first met Crown Prince Harald (the future King Harald V) at a party hosted by Johan H. Stenersen. Later in August the Crown Prince invited her to his graduation ball, where they were photographed together for the first time. They dated for nine years, although their relationship had been kept secret because she was a commoner.[3] The Crown Prince made it clear to his father, King Olav V, that he would remain unmarried for life unless he could marry her.[10] This would in effect have put an end to the rule of his family, and likely to the monarchy in Norway, as Harald 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; as a result, Sonja became engaged to Crown Prince Harald on 19 March 1968. The couple married on 29 August 1968, at Oslo Cathedral. She thus acquired the style of Royal Highness and the title of Crown Princess of Norway.[3]

Public life[edit]

Sonja in Stockholm for a royal wedding in 2015

Following the death of King Olav V on 17 January 1991, Sonja became Norway's first queen consort in 52 years.[3] Queen Sonja accompanied King Harald V when he swore his oath to uphold the Constitution in the Storting on 21 January 1991. During Haakon VII of Norway's reign, his wife Queen Maud died in 1938 and his son Olav V was then crown prince when his wife Princess Märtha of Sweden died in 1954 before he became king three years later. It was also the first time in 69 years that a Norwegian queen had been present in the Storting. Since his accession, Queen Sonja has accompanied the King to the formal opening of the autumn session of the Storting and the reading of the Speech from the Throne.[3]

In accordance with their own wishes, the King and Queen were consecrated in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on 23 June 1991.[3] 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.[3]

The Queen accompanies the King on official state visits abroad. She acts as the hostess when foreign heads of state officially visit Norway.[3]

In 2005, Queen Sonja became the first queen ever to visit Antarctica.[3] 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.[3]

In 2017 Queen Sonja was awarded the Trysil-Knut Prize. She is the first woman to ever receive the award.[11]

The Queen was 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.[12][13]

On 17 January 2021, Queen Sonja celebrated 30 years as Norway's queen consort.[14]


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.[3]

From 1987 to 1990, Crown Princess Sonja served as Vice President of the Norwegian Red Cross. She was responsible for the organisation's international activities. She took part in a Red Cross delegation to Botswana and Zimbabwe in 1989.[3]

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".[3][15]

In 2021, Frank Rossavik said that now she is starting an [art] gallery, to sell works by artists that she has given her prestigious prizes to.[16]

Personal interests[edit]

Sonja established the 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.[17][18]

She is a longtime avid photographer and has a keen interest in art.[19] She is a printmaker, and held exhibitions with artists Kjell Nupen and Ørnulf Opdahl in 2011 and 2013.[20] 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.[21]

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 to establish a palace museum in Oslo.[22][23]

The Queen is a keen hiker, and this was marked by a sculpture unveiled for her 80th birthday as a gift from the Norwegian Trekking Association.[24]


Name Birth Marriage Children
Date Spouse
Princess Märtha Louise 22 September 1971 24 May 2002 Ari Behn
Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway 20 July 1973 25 August 2001 Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby



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.

Queen Sonja also received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 1994 [25]

National orders[edit]

Foreign orders[edit]

Rem : The mark ° shows the honours mentioned on Queen Sonja's official website page


  1. ^ Coronation discarded by constitutional amendment in 1908. Harald V swore the Royal Oath in the Storting on 21 January 1991 and received the benediction in the Nidaros Cathedral on 23 June 1991.[1]


  1. ^ "Norwegian paper Aftenposten on the royal benediction". Archived from the original on 19 January 2005.
  2. ^ "The Royal Family". royalcourt.no. Norwegian Royal Court.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "The Official Website of the Royal House of Norway: Her Majesty Queen Sonja".
  4. ^ AquinoReporter, Gabriel (15 August 2018). "Before they were royal: The life of Queen Sonja of Norway". Royal Central.
  5. ^ "Organisations under the patronage of HM The Queen".
  6. ^ Karl August Haraldsen (born 5 April 1875 in Solum, Skien, died 9 March 1959 in Oslo) was a Norwegian clothing trader and department store manager. He was the son of a ship captain, Halvor Haraldsen (1814 - 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.
  7. ^ Haakon Haraldsen (eldest brother of Queen Sonja) was the father of CEO Karl Otto Haraldsen, himself stepfather of TV personality Pia Haraldsen.
  8. ^ Dronning Sonjas bror, Haakon Haraldsen er død, 95 år gammel. Han gravlegges i Oslo fredag.
  9. ^ Gry Henriksen (elder sister of Queen Sonja) was the mother of Dag Swanstrøm, former CEO of Synnøve Finden.
  10. ^ AquinoReporter, Gabriel (15 August 2018). "Before they were royal: The life of Queen Sonja of Norway". Royal Central. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  11. ^ Dronning Sonja får Trysil-Knut prisen (in Norwegian) [h-a.no], retrieved 17 May 2018
  12. ^ "Video from NRK of Sonja participating in a winter exercise". Archived from the original on 9 September 2009. Retrieved 24 August 2008.
  13. ^ Article from the Norwegian defence on Royals in the military Archived 14 January 2006 at the Wayback Machine (Norwegian)
  14. ^ "King and Queen for 30 years".
  15. ^ Article from the Norwegian Directorate of Education on Queen Sonja’s School Award (in Norwegian) Retrieved 6 November 2007
  16. ^ https://www.aftenposten.no/meninger/kommentar/i/rgoOom/boer-dronning-sonja-bli-gallerist-ogsaa "Når dronning Sonja nå starter eget galleri for å selge verk av kunstnere hun har gitt sine prestisjetunge priser til, [...]"
  17. ^ Royal House web page on the Queen's areas of special interest Archived 10 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 6 November 2007
  18. ^ Queen Sonja International Music Competition web page Archived 20 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2 September 2009
  19. ^ Jan Thomas Holmlund (27 October 2011): Her er dronning Sonjas egne kunstverk (in Norwegian) Verdens Gang, retrieved 6 July 2013
  20. ^ Lars Elton (6 July 2013): De tre musketêrer (in Norwegian) Verdens Gang, retrieved 6 July 2013
  21. ^ H.M. Dronning Sonjas kunstnerstipend (in Norwegian) Kongehuset.no, retrieved 6 July 2013
  22. ^ Totl, Kjell Arne. "Kongehusekspert Kjell Arne Totland skriver: Gi kongeparet et permanent slottsmuseum". Aftenposten (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  23. ^ Moxnes, Agnes (27 December 2018). "På tide med et slottsmuseum". NRK (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  24. ^ "The statues in the Palace Park". Royal House of Norway. Retrieved 26 August 2021.
  25. ^ "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". www1.hw.ac.uk. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  26. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (PDF) (in German). p. 518. Retrieved 28 November 2012.
  27. ^ Belga Pictures, State visit of Norway in Belgium, May 2003, Group photo Archived 25 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Harald V & Paola Archived 25 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Albert II & Sonja
  28. ^ Narodne
  29. ^ "Modtagere af danske dekorationer". Kongehuset (in Danish). 12 December 2017. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  30. ^ "Vabariigi President". www.president.ee. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  31. ^ "Vabariigi President". www.president.ee. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  32. ^ Iceland Archived 3 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ "Le onorificenze della Repubblica Italiana". www.quirinale.it. Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  34. ^ vestnesis.lv. "Par apbalvošanu ar Triju Zvaigžņu ordeni - Latvijas Vēstnesis". www.vestnesis.lv (in Latvian). Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  35. ^ vestnesis.lv. "Par Atzinības krusta piešķiršanu - Latvijas Vēstnesis". www.vestnesis.lv (in Latvian). Retrieved 3 September 2019.
  36. ^ Lithuanian Presidency Archived 19 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Lithuanian Orders searching form
  37. ^ a b c Portuguese presidential website, Orders search form
  38. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  39. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado

External links[edit]

Norwegian royalty
Title last held by
Maud of Wales
Queen consort of Norway