Queen of Norway. Name variations: Sonja Haraldsen. Born Sonja Haraldsen on July 4, 1937, in Oslo, Norway; dau. of Dagny (Ulrichsen) Haraldsen and Carl August Haraldsen (a clothing shop proprietor, died 1959); studied dressmaking and tailoring at the Oslo Vocational School, 1954–55; attended Swiss Ecole Professionelle des Jeunes Filles, a women's college in Lausanne, Switzerland; University of Oslo, BA, 1971; studied English at Cambridge University, England; m. Prince Harald of Norway, later Harald V, king of Norway (r. 1991–), on Aug 29, 1968; children: Martha Oldenburg (b. 1971); crown prince Haakon Oldenburg (b. 1973).
A commoner, 1st met Prince Harald (later Harald V) at an officers' ball and a romance developed; kept apart by parents, met him in secret for 10 years; allowed to wed only after Harald threatened to renounce his right to the throne; devoted a great deal of time to charitable causes, especially work with disabled children; served as president of Norwegian Red Cross' children's aid division, a role which expanded to include the vice-presidency of the larger organization (1987); became queen of Norway (1991); exhibiting the qualities necessary for the position of First lady of the kingdom, became well regarded for her intelligence, charm, elegance, and many works of goodwill. Awarded Nansen Medal by UN High Commissioner for Refugees (1982).
See also Women in World History.