The Wedding of King Harald V and Queen Sonja

The love story of King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway is one true-to-life Cinderella story that's worth writing about. After all, for an egalitarian state that is Norway, Sonja, a commoner, had to endure "the row about royalty and class."

King Harald V was born on February 21, 1937, the only son of King Olav V and Princess Martha of Sweden. He is the first Norwegian king to the born in Norwegian soil since Olav IV in 1370. Queen Sonja (nee Haraldsen), meanwhile, was born on July 4, 1937, the daughter of a clothing merchant.

The romance almost never transpired had Sonja decided not to go out on a party she was invited in 1959. There she met the Crown Prince of Norway.  Their romance blossomed but for a crown prince to fall in love with a commoner at that time was unimaginable. King Olav had other plans for Prince Harald. He wanted him to marry a princess. In fact, the press tried to matched him with Princess Irene and Princess Sophia of Greece (now Queen Sofia of Spain), but to no avail. Sonja stole his heart and he was determined to marry her. Finally, Harald had to make a decision and so he told his father that he would marry no one else but Sonja. Now, King Olav faced a dilemma—it’s either he break away with tradition and let Sonja in to the Family or prevent his son from marrying the woman he loves and risk not having an heir to the throne. King Olav V sought the advice of the government to resolve the issue. Nine years of dating and waiting passed and Harald was allowed to marry Sonja.  Their engagement was officially announced on March 19, 1968 and after the message was delivered at the Storting, flags were flown on all public buildings in honor of the news.

The wedding ceremony took place in the afternoon of August 29, 1968. Oslo was in festive mood. Around the city, streets were bedecked with flags and flowers while shops displayed photos and the monogram of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess on their windows. About 3, 000 soldiers from all the branches of the armed forces lined the procession route from the Royal Palace to Oslo Cathedral, which was decorated to perfection. It was turned into a flower garden with 2, 500 roses, marguerites, freesias, sweet peas and gladioli decorated inside.  Sonja’s wedding gown was created by Oslo clothing store Molstad. Its simplicity was reminiscent of the era with three-quarter length sleeves and a long train. It was decorated with white pearls and embroidery and complemented by the long tulle veil and bouquet of white roses, freesias, lilies of the valley and orchids.

Sonja looked every each a princess as she walked the aisle on the arm of King Olav, while Henry Purcell’s “Trumpet Tune and Air” was sung by the choir.  When the “I do’s” were exchanged and the groom kissed the bride, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Norway stepped out of the Cathedral welcomed by the deafening cheers of the crowd. In the Akershus Fortress, two 21-gun salutes were fired in honor of the couple. The wedding celebrations lasted for three days and all of Norway were jubilant, knowing that their beloved Royal Family will have another generation to come.  They were blessed with a son, Martha Louise (1971), and the heir to the throne, Haakon (born 1973). On January 17, 1991, King Olav died and Harald succeeded as King and Sonja, once upon a time the commoner, became Norway’s adored and well-loved Queen. Image credit: The official website of the Royal House of Norway


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