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Queen Sonja in 2017
|Queen consort of Norway|
|Tenure||17 January 1991 - present|
|Benediction||23 June 1991|
4 July 1937
Red Cross Clinic, Oslo, Kingdom of Norway
|Father||Karl August Haraldsen|
Sonja was born on 4 July 1937 at Red Cross Clinic in Oslo, the daughter of clothing merchant Karl August Haraldsen (1889-1959) and Dagny Ulrichsen (1896-1994). She had three siblings, Haakon Haraldsen (1921-2016), Gry Henriksen (1924-1971) 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.
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. 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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Following the death of King Olav V on 17 January 1991, Sonja became Norway's first queen consort in 52 years. 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.
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.
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.
In 2017 Queen Sonja was awarded the Trysil-Knut Prize. She is the first woman to ever receive the award.
Rem : The mark ° shows the honours mentioned on Queen Sonja's official website page