Although we are in the 21st century, and in most countries the monarchy already has only representative functions, members of the royal family are inaccessible to the ordinary citizen. They appear only at official and elaborately planned speeches under the guard of numerous security guards and police. However, there is a country in Europe where it looks quite different. Sonja Haraldsen is a queen of Norway unlike any other. We present a portrait of this remarkable GentleWoman.
Who is Sonja queen of Norway?
Sonja was born on July 4, 1937 in Oslo. Her father was a merchant and owner of a women’s confectionery store. It was thanks to him that she fell in love with fashion. To this day, her looks and style bring her worldwide recognition. Especially since Sonja can be found not only at official appearances. She did not come from an aristocratic family, nor did she have great wealth. As a child, she attended state schools like her peers. She graduated from high school in 1954. She grew up with two older siblings: brother Haakon and sister Gry. She had another brother, Karl, who died tragically a year before she was born. She studied French, English and art history at the University of Oslo.
She met her future husband, Harald, at a party organized by their mutual friend John H. Stenersen in 1959. At the time, only 22-year-old Sonja was studying at a vocational school and earning some extra money by helping out in her father’s store. After that, everything turned out like in a fairy tale. Well, almost like a fairy tale….
Love against all odds
Harald fell in love with Sonja at first sight. She in him too, although she never believed they could be together. An ordinary girl from the people, she never even dreamed that she would ever become the wife of the future king of Norway. For the first two years, they hid because they realized that their relationship could cause controversy. Afterwards, Harald officially informed his father, then king, that he wanted to marry Sonja. He did not get approval. King Olaf felt that the union of a simple girl with the future heir to the throne would make the Norwegian monarchy “swaddled” and thus unnecessary.
The Herald, however, did not let go. Even though the press kept trying to match him with princesses from all over the world, he was in love with Sonja and wasn’t going to change that. When rumors of Herald’s marriage to Princess Tatiana Radziwill took a turn for the worse, Sonja attempted suicide. Then the family decided to send her to Lausanne, where she could devote herself to her passion – fashion design. However, she was unable to forget her beloved. They finally got the go-ahead to formalize their relationship nine years after they first met.
What did the royal engagement look like?
Although Sonja and Harald believed from the beginning that they would be together, fate threw stumbling blocks under their feet. Neither the king nor the reigning government wanted to approve the marriage of the future king to a “merchant’s daughter.” Norway was then in danger of becoming a republic, which no one could or would agree to. Even the public and the media were against such a misalliance. It was not until March 1968 that their official engagement was announced, after Prince Harald announced that if he did not get permission to marry Sonja he would resign from the throne. As an engagement gift, she received a ring belonging to Harald’s mother, Maud. Just then King Olaf yielded and agreed to his son’s engagement. They also received approval from the government. Norwegian Prime Minister Per Borten said at the time: “There is no choice more personal than the choice of a wife, and these days the public believes that everyone should decide as their heart and soul dictate.” They stood on the wedding cake just six months later.
A wedding like a fairy tale. How did the wedding ceremony of Sonja and Herald V proceed?
On August 29, 1968, in Oslo Cathedral, Sonja and Harald vowed to love each other until the grave. All the cream of society, the court and the citizens of Norway attended the wedding. A crowd of more than 100,000 cheered the newlyweds, and the bishop who led the ceremony said, “A new and very strong bond has just been forged between the royal family and the Norwegian people.” The bride was led down the aisle by King Olaf. This was an official signal that she was accepted not only by the people, but also by the ruling monarchy.
At the wedding, Sonja Haraldsen appeared in a dress of her own design. The beautiful long gown in snow white was made of silk and richly decorated with real pearls. She also chose not to wear any jewelry in an effort to emphasize her background. There was also no lavish wedding. Guests were treated to only a modest dinner consisting of oxtail soup, Norwegian-style salmon and dessert in the form of a wedding cake. Only in the evening was the ball held, during which the The bride and groom danced to a waltz specially composed for them, titled “The Groom. “Listen to the voice of your heart.”.
And they lived happily ever after (in)happily ever after….
It would seem that Sonja and Harald’s happiness can no longer be drowned out by anything. They devoted themselves to traveling and fulfilling princely duties. She was the one who acted as first lady, since the prince’s mother had died long before their marriage. The people loved her for being herself. She didn’t pretend where she came from or who she was. As a result, she has become very popular and has gained a following throughout Norway and beyond. She was even the first queen in the world to visit Antarctica.
What secrets does Sonja hide?
Just a year and a half after their wedding in 1970, the princely couple announced that they were expecting offspring. The entire nation rejoiced with them and looked forward to the birth of a worthy heir to the throne. However, this did not happen. A month after announcing the happy news, Princess Sonja miscarried and lost her pregnancy during King Olaf’s birthday celebration. While everyone was very sympathetic to her dramatic experience, it also sparked widespread discussion about whether the prince would ever live to see an offspring. “I remember all the strange faces leaning over me as I drove to the hospital. It was awful,” she later wrote in her autobiography.
Fortunately, a year later they had a healthy daughter, Martha Ludwig, and two years later the future heir to the throne – son Haakon Magnus.
It was her highness Sonja who paved the way for a better and different life for her children. Thanks to it, the Norwegian monarchy is today considered the most modern in the world. Both her daughter and son married people from the people. Sonja and Harald make a lot of public appearances, but they can also be found in ordinary, everyday situations. It’s no secret that they both bike, take the subway and even still actively climb mountains. They are not followed by a cordon of bodyguards, do not wear heavy crowns on their heads, and do not dress from famous designers on a daily basis. Contrary to appearances , they lead quite ordinary lives, for an extraordinary royal family. Thanks to her, her grandchildren also have the chance to grow up among their peers and lead a normal life.
Where does the Norwegian royal family live?
They reside in the royal palace located on Bellevuehøyden Hill in central Oslo. It is not surrounded by either a huge wall or excessive security. Every year, on May 17, the Norwegian Constitution Day, the entire royal family goes out to the balcony and waves to the gathered crowds from there. Not only a native Norwegian has a chance to see it live then. This most important Norwegian holiday also attracts thousands of tourists, as Sonja and Harald and their families often go for a drive around the Norwegian capital after the official speech.
Sonja Haraldsen – Queen of Norway
Sonja Haraldsen received the official title of Queen of Norway in 1991 when the coronation of her husband, King Harald, took place. It was the first coronation of a queen after more than half a century since Maud, King Olaf’s wife, died. From the first moments after receiving the titles, she announced that she wanted to be active and busy for as long as she had enough. She fully devoted herself not only to royal duties, but also to charity. The Norwegian royal family is not afraid to express its views, and actively supports national minorities, refugees and the LGBT+ community. Sonja is also keen to contribute to addiction treatment organizations. It’s no secret that Norway has struggled for years with the highest rate of drug-related deaths. For many years, she also served as the Norwegian Red Cross’s perpetual president taking an active part in missions including. In Zimbabwe or Botswana.
After her marriage, Queen Sonja also began studying art history , from which she earned a master’s degree, and later graduated from the National Defense College. At the time, she was given the rank of colonel of the Army and Air Force and Rear Admiral of the Navy. She has been awarded for her many contributions not only in Norway, but also outside. In 1973, Sonja was awarded the Order of the Elephant in Denmark, and in 2003 she received the Order of the Polish Eagle from the then Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski.
In love with art
The Queen of Norway is passionate about art. She didn’t just graduate in this field. She has been making prints and ceramics herself for years, and her work can be seen in exhibitions around the world. One gallery she and Harold opened in the former stables of the royal palace Dronningparken in Oslo. It also houses a museum and a concert hall. It was a gift from her husband on the occasion of her 80th birthday.
Sonja not only creates herself, but also supports other artists. Established the International Music Competition named after him. Queen Sonja and presents the Queen Sonja Nordic Art Award. Walking through the streets of Oslo, one can see that art plays a huge role in this city. Numerous art galleries can be found on virtually every corner. In addition, the city is investing in the expansion of museums or the opera house.
A queen unlike any other
Although it has been a long time since Sonja Haroldsen became queen of Norway, still her ratings and the sympathy of her compatriots have not waned. Although she has had a few slip-ups during her reign she still stands by the king and does a lot of good for others. It is thanks to her that today the Norwegian monarchy is one of the most well-liked and respected in the world. No wonder, since the queen herself and her government can be met even when traveling on a low-cost airline. It makes the bright future of the Norwegian monarchy more than certain.