The King Harald V
Harald is the son of King Olav V (1903-1991) and Crown Princess Märtha
(1901-1954). He ascended the throne on the death of his father, King
Olav V, on 17 January 1991. Like his grandfather, King Haakon VII (1905-57),
his father Olav V (1957-91) the King Harald V chose the motto Alt for
Norge! (All for Norway!).
The birth of a prince is always an historic event. However, it was a
particularly special occasion for the Norwegian people when an heir
to the throne came into the world on 21 February 1937. The prince was
born at Skaugum, the estate that is still the home of the Royal Family.
This was the first time in 567 years that a prince had been born in
Norway, and the birth ensured the line of succession of the relatively
newly established Norwegian Royal Family. King Haakon VII became King
of Norway after the dissolution of the union with Sweden in 1905. According
to the Constitution of 1814, he could only be succeeded by male heirs
(this provision has subsequently been amended). With the prince's birth,
the country was guaranteed a king, at least for the next two generations,
and this meant a great deal to most Norwegians.
King Olav's announcement in 1968 that Crown Prince Harald wished to
marry a commoner triggered a heated political debate on the future of
the monarchy. The Crown Prince had known his bride-to-be for nine years
before it was decided that they were to marry. King Olav himself made
the decision after having consulted the Government, the President of
the Storting and the leaders of the various parliamentary groups in
The response was favourable. The vast majority of the population accepted
Sonja Haraldsen immediately with great enthusiasm, which indicates the
status enjoyed by the Royal Family and by Sonja Haraldsen as an individual.
She became inseparably linked with the national unity symbolized by
the Norwegian Royal Family.
The marriage took place in August 1968. The couple's first child, Märtha
Louise, was born on 22 September 1971, and the second, Prince Haakon,
on 20 July 1973.
The deep commitment shown by King Olav and the then Crown Prince and
Crown Princess is one of the reasons the monarchy has such a strong
position in Norway today. Another reason is the significance of the
Royal Family as a symbol of social stability and political continuity
in politically turbulent times. And above all, the Royal Family is a
symbol of unity, which proved extremely important during the Second
The Queen Sonja
When Crown Prince
Harald acceded to the throne on the death of his father, King Olav V,
on 17 January 1991, Norway also gained a queen for the first time in
Sonja Haraldsen became Crown Princess Sonja when she married Crown Prince
Harald on 29 August 1968. Their engagement triggered a debate on the
future of the monarchy in Norway. However, there was much less criticism
than many had feared when the heir to the Norwegian Throne chose a wife
who was a commoner. From the very start, Crown Princess Sonja was accepted
by the entire Norwegian population as a member of their beloved Royal
Sonja Haraldsen was born in Oslo on 4 July 1937. She grew up at Vinderen
in Oslo, took her lower secondary school diploma in 1954, and studied
dressmaking and tailoring at the Oslo Vocational School. She took a
diploma from the Swiss Ecole Professionelle des Jeunes Filles, a women's
college in Lausanne which offered social sciences, accounting and fashion
design. Later she took her upper secondary school diploma as an external
candidate and received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University
of Oslo, where she studied French, English and art history.
Her Majesty has travelled extensively both in Norway and abroad, and
is patron of a number of organizations. In 1972 Crown Princess Sonja
participated in the establishment of a fund in her daughter's name,
HRH Princess Märtha Louise's Fund, which is devoted to helping disabled
Norwegian children. She is deeply concerned about the plight of refugees
and immigrants and frequently visits institutions for the elderly, children
and the mentally retarded. In the 1970s she took an active part in several
large fund-raising drives for the benefit of refugees. To gain a first-hand
impression of the refugee situation, she visited several sites, including
a camp for Vietnamese boat refugees in Malaysia.
The Prince Haakon
Haakon and Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby, both 28, exchanged vows at Oslo
Cathedral before hundreds of friends and relatives, including many European
royals (25 august 2001).
The Crown Prince is the son of King Harald and Queen Sonja and was born
on 20 July 1973. The royal line began when the Crown Prince's great
grandfather, Haakon VII, came to Norway in 1905 after the dissolution
of the union with Sweden.
Both names have royal traditions in Norway. The Crown Prince's great
grandfather was the seventh king to be called Haakon, and many kings
bore the name of Magnus in the Middle Ages. The Crown Prince now uses
only his first name, Haakon.
Crown Prince Haakon represents the fourth generation of the Norwegian
royal family. After he came of age, his duties as heir to the throne
Although his sister was born two years earlier, Crown Prince Haakon
is the heir to the throne. According to the Constitution, Norway has
a linear succession, and the right of succession was previously also
agnatic (i.e. the oldest legitimate "man born of man" inherited the
throne). The Constitution has now been amended so that women can also
accede to the throne, but as an interim arrangement it was decided that
the male line should have precedence for those born before 1990. In
practice, this means that Princess Märtha Louise would only accede to
the throne if her brother were to die before having any children or
Crown Prince Haakon has grown up in natural surroundings and been encouraged
by his parents' interest in sports. Like his father and grandfather,
he is a sailing enthusiast. The Crown Prince is also a good skier, and
is keen on cycling and paragliding. He shares his sisters interest in
culture and art, and is an avid patron of the theatre. His favourite
dramatist is Henrik Ibsen, while his musical tastes vary.
Norway's day-old royal princess, pictured by her father Norway's Crown
Prince Haakom, was given the names Ingrid Alexandra January 22, 2004,
and could be joined by other queens on European thrones in the 21st
century as monarchies change centuries-old laws of male succession.
Strong family ties
The Norwegian royal family has close ties to the Danish, Swedish and
British royal families. King Haakon VII was the second son of King Frederik
VIII of Denmark. His wife, Queen Maud, mother of King Olav, was the
daughter of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra of England. King Olav's
wife, Märtha, was the second daughter of Swedish Prince Carl and Princess
Ingeborg. Crown Prince Haakon's mother, Queen Sonja, comes from an Oslo
family and was married to Crown Prince Harald in 1968.