Queen Sonja of Norway
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Queen Sonja of Norway

H.M. Queen Sonja Oslo Jazzfestival 2017 (181611) (cropped).jpg
Queen Sonja in 2017
Queen consort of Norway
Tenure17 January 1991 - present
Benediction23 June 1991[1]
BornSonja Haraldsen
(1937-07-04) 4 July 1937 (age 83)
Red Cross Clinic, Oslo, Kingdom of Norway
(m. 1968)
FatherKarl August Haraldsen
MotherDagny Ulrichsen

Sonja (born Sonja Haraldsen on 4 July 1937) is the Queen consort of Norway since 17 January 1991 as the wife of King Harald V.[2]

Early life

Sonja was born on 4 July 1937 at Red Cross Clinic in Oslo, the daughter of clothing merchant Karl August Haraldsen (1889-1959)[3] and Dagny Ulrichsen (1896-1994).[2] She had three siblings, Haakon Haraldsen (1921-2016),[4][5] Gry Henriksen (1924-1971)[6] 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.[2]

Marriage to Crown Prince Harald

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.[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.[7] 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, Sonja became engaged to Crown Prince Harald on 19 March 1968. The couple married 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]


Humanitarian work

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]

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][8]

Music and the arts

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.[9][10]

She is a longtime avid photographer and has a keen interest in art.[11] She is a printmaker, and held exhibitions with artists Kjell Nupen and Ørnulf Opdahl in 2011 and 2013.[12] 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.[13]

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.[14][15]

As queen

Royal Monogram

Following the death of King Olav V on 17 January 1991, Sonja became Norway's first queen consort in 52 years.[2] 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's reign, his wife Queen Maud of Wales 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.[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]

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]

In 2017 Queen Sonja was awarded the Trysil-Knut Prize. She is the first woman to ever receive the award.[16]

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.[17][18]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Styles of
Queen Sonja as consort
Coat of arms of Queen Sonja of Norway.png
Reference styleHer Majesty
Spoken styleYour Majesty

Titles and styles

  • 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 of Norway


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 [19]

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. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "The Official Website of the Royal House of Norway: Her Majesty Queen Sonja".
  3. ^ Karl August Haraldsen (born 5 April 1889 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 (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.
  4. ^ Haakon Haraldsen (eldest brother of Queen Sonja) was the father of CEO Karl Otto Haraldsen, himself stepfather of TV personality Pia Haraldsen.
  5. ^ Dronning Sonjas bror, Haakon Haraldsen er død, 95 år gammel. Han gravlegges i Oslo fredag.
  6. ^ Gry Henriksen (elder sister of Queen Sonja) was the mother of Dag Swanstrøm, former CEO of Synnøve Finden.
  7. ^ AquinoReporter, Gabriel (15 August 2018). "Before they were royal: The life of Queen Sonja of Norway". Royal Central. Retrieved 2019.
  8. ^ Article from the Norwegian Directorate of Education on Queen Sonja's School Award (in Norwegian) Retrieved 6 November 2007
  9. ^ Royal House web page on the Queen's areas of special interest Archived 10 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 6 November 2007
  10. ^ Queen Sonja International Music Competition web page Archived 20 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2 September 2009
  11. ^ Jan Thomas Holmlund (27 October 2011): Her er dronning Sonjas egne kunstverk (in Norwegian) Verdens Gang, retrieved 6 July 2013
  12. ^ Lars Elton (6 July 2013): De tre musketêrer (in Norwegian) Verdens Gang, retrieved 6 July 2013
  13. ^ H.M. Dronning Sonjas kunstnerstipend (in Norwegian) Kongehuset.no, retrieved 6 July 2013
  14. ^ Totl, Kjell Arne. "Kongehusekspert Kjell Arne Totland skriver: Gi kongeparet et permanent slottsmuseum". Aftenposten (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2018.
  15. ^ Moxnes, Agnes (27 December 2018). "På tide med et slottsmuseum". NRK (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 2018.
  16. ^ Dronning Sonja får Trysil-Knut prisen (in Norwegian) [h-a.no], retrieved 17 May 2018
  17. ^ "Video from NRK of Sonja participating in a winter exercise". Archived from the original on 9 September 2009. Retrieved 2008.
  18. ^ Article from the Norwegian defence on Royals in the military Archived 14 January 2006 at the Wayback Machine (Norwegian)
  19. ^ webperson@hw.ac.uk. "Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh: Honorary Graduates". www1.hw.ac.uk. Retrieved 2016.
  20. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question about the Decoration of Honour" (pdf) (in German). p. 518. Retrieved 2012.
  21. ^ 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
  22. ^ "Modtagere af danske dekorationer". Kongehuset (in Danish). 12 December 2017. Retrieved 2019.
  23. ^ "Vabariigi President". www.president.ee. Retrieved 2019.
  24. ^ "Vabariigi President". www.president.ee. Retrieved 2019.
  25. ^ Noblesse et Royautés Archived 17 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine (French), State visit of President of Finland in Norway, 2012, Photo Archived 17 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/c1/21/7e/c1217eeb1a75928978cbed768eaac420.jpg
  27. ^ Iceland Archived 3 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ "Le onorificenze della Repubblica Italiana". www.quirinale.it. Retrieved 2019.
  29. ^ The Royal Forums, State visit of japan in Norway, May 2005, Photo
  30. ^ vestnesis.lv. "Par apbalvo?anu ar Triju Zvaigu ordeni - Latvijas V?stnesis". www.vestnesis.lv (in Latvian). Retrieved 2019.
  31. ^ vestnesis.lv. "Par Atzin?bas krusta pieir?anu - Latvijas V?stnesis". www.vestnesis.lv (in Latvian). Retrieved 2019.
  32. ^ Lithuanian Presidency Archived 19 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Lithuanian Orders searching form
  33. ^ Photo of a State visit of Lithuania to Norway, March 2011
  34. ^ a b c Portuguese presidential website, Orders search form
  35. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  36. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado
  37. ^ "Noblesse et Royautés" Archived 22 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Guests to Victoria of Sweden's wedding, Photo Archived 8 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine

External links

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

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