Gratulerer med dagen! Norway’s Queen Sonja celebrates her 83rd Birthday on Saturday, 4 July 2020.

Queen Sonja turns 83 on 4 July 2020. Photo: Erik Edland, TV2 / NTB scanpix

Sonja Haraldsen was born at the Red Cross Clinic in Oslo on 4 July 1937. she was the youngest child of clothing merchant and department store manager Karl August Haraldsen and his wife Dagny Ulrichsen. She had two older brothers and a sister.

She first met Crown Prince Harald in 1959, but the relationship was considered highly controversial and kept secret because Sonja was a commoner.

Crown Prince Harald and Miss Sonja Haraldsen in 1968. Photo: Photo: NTB Archive / De kongelige samlinger

The Crown Prince was considered one of the world’s most eligible bachelors. He was supposed to marry one of the several princesses available during the 1950s and 1060s, including Princess Sophia of Greece who later married King Juan Carlos of Spain.

They met at a dinner party in 1959 hosted by mutual friends, which was said to be “love at first sight”.

King Olav made it quite clear, when he discovered the relationship, that the marriage was “out of the question” as he believed it would put the monarchy at risk.

Harald left to study at Oxford whilst Sonja went abroad to study and work in France and Switzerland. They found having a long-distance romance was difficult, tried to break up several times and both felt miserable.

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The Crown Prince eventually summoned up the courage to tell his father if he couldn’t marry Sonja Haraldsen, he would remain single, and that would cause a constitutional crisis in Norway.

The Royal Family arrives at the garden party to celebrate King Harald and Queen Sonja's Silver Jubilee on 1 Febrary 2016. Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, The Royal Court of Norway
King Harald and Queen Sonja arrive with the Royal Family for a garden party celebrating their Silver Jubilee on 1 September 2016. Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, The Royal Court

Finally, King Olav gave his consent in March 1968, after the government gave the green light.

Sonja became the Crown Princess when she married Harald in a magnificent ceremony at Oslo Cathedral on 29 August 1968.

They have two children, Princess Märtha Louise (born 22 September 1971) and Crown Prince Haakon (born 20 July 1973), and six grandchildren including Princess Ingrid Alexandra, who is second-in-line to the throne.

Queen Sonja and King Harald V at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Kirribilli, on 24 February 2015. Photo: Carolyn M Cash

King Harald acceded to the Norwegian throne when his father, Olav V, died on 18 January 1991. They were consecrated in Nidaros Cathedral on 23 June 1991, before undertaking a ten-day tour of Southern Norway.

The Queen has also become a graphic artist and ceramicist. Queen Sonja’s works have been on display at various exhibitions in Norway and overseas, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

Queen Sonja of Norway seen with some of her work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney on 25 February 2015. © Carolyn M Cash

She also established the Queen Sonja Print Award to generate interest and promote the development of graphic art.

King Harald and Queen Sonja visited Australia for their first state visit in 2015.

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