Queen Sonja of Norway

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Queen Sonja of Norway.jpg
Queen Sonja in Stavanger 2007
Queen consort of Norway
Tenure 17 January 1991 – present
Consecration 23 June 1991[1]
Born (1937-07-04) 4 July 1937 (age 81)
Oslo, Norway
Spouse Harald V of Norway (m. 1968)
Issue Princess Märtha Louise
Crown Prince Haakon
Father Karl August Haraldsen
Mother Dagny Haraldsen
Religion Church of Norway

Queen Sonja of Norway (born Sonja Haraldsen on 4 July 1937) is the wife of King Harald V.[2]

Prior to marriage

Sonja was born in Oslo on 4 July 1937, the daughter of clothing merchant Karl August Haraldsen (1889–1959) and Dagny Ulrichsen (1898–1994).[2]

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.[2]

As crown princess

Sonja became engaged to then Crown Prince Harald in March 1968. They had been dating for nine years, although their relationship had been kept secret because of her non-royal status.[2] The Crown Prince made it clear to his father, King Olav V, that he would remain unmarried for life unless he could marry her. 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 and, as a result, the couple was wed on 29 August 1968, at Oslo Domkirke in Oslo. She thus acquired the style of Royal Highness and the title of Crown Princess of Norway.[2]

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.[2]

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.[2]

The Queen Sonja International Music Competition

The then-Crown Princess 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.[2][3]

As queen

Royal Monogram
Styles of
Queen Sonja of Norway as consort
Coat of arms of Queen Sonja of Norway.png
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Ma'am

Following the death of King Olav V on 17 January 1991, Sonja became Norway's first queen consort in 53 years.[2] 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.[2]

In accordance with their own wishes, the King and Queen were consecrated in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on 23 June 1991.[2] 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.[2]

The Queen accompanies the King on official state visits abroad. She acts as the hostess when foreign heads of state officially visit Norway.[2] The Queen has also given lectures on Norway as a tourist destination on several occasions during official state visits abroad.[2]

In 2005, Queen Sonja became the first queen ever to visit Antarctica.[2] 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.[2]

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.[4][5]

Queen Sonja’s School Award

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".[2][6]


The Queen is a longtime avid photographer and has a keen interest in art.[7] She is a printmaker, and held exhibitions with artists Kjell Nupen and Ørnulf Opdahl in 2011 and 2013.[8]

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.[9]




See also List of honours of the Norwegian Royal Family by country

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.

National Orders

Foreign Orders

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. Norwegian paper Aftenposten on the royal benediction
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 The Official Website of the Royal House of Norway: Her Majesty Queen Sonja Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "kongehuset.no" defined multiple times with different content
  3. Queen Sonja International Music Competition web page Retrieved 2 September 2009
  4. Video from NRK of Sonja participating in a winter exercise
  5. Article from the Norwegian defence on Royals in the military (Norwegian)
  6. Article from the Norwegian Directorate of Education on Queen Sonja’s School Award (Norwegian) Retrieved 6 November 2007
  7. Jan Thomas Holmlund (27 October 2011): Her er dronning Sonjas egne kunstverk (Norwegian) Verdens Gang, retrieved 6 July 2013
  8. Lars Elton (6 July 2013): De tre musketêrer (Norwegian) Verdens Gang, retrieved 6 July 2013
  9. H.M. Dronning Sonjas kunstnerstipend (Norwegian) Kongehuset.no, retrieved 6 July 2013
  10. Royal House web page on the Queen's patronages Retrieved 6 November 2007
  11. "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (pdf) (in German). p. 518. Retrieved November 2012. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Belga Pictures, State visit of Norway in Belgium, May 2003, Group photo, Harald V & Paola, Albert II & Sonja
  13. Noblesse et Royautés (French), State visit of President of Finland in Norway, 2012, Photo
  14. Iceland
  15. The Royal Forums, State visit of japan in Norway, May 2005, Photo
  16. Lithuanian Presidency, Lithuanian Orders searching form
  17. Photo of a State visit of Lithuania to Norway, March 2011
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Portuguese presidential website, Orders search form
  19. Boletín Oficial del Estado
  20. Boletín Oficial del Estado
  21. "Noblesse et Royautés", Guests to Victoria of Sweden's wedding, Photo

External links

Norwegian royalty
Title last held by
Maud of Wales
Queen consort of Norway
1991 – present