The course of true love never did run smooth.
– William Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” | Act 1, Scene 1
There are no written rules when it comes to falling in love and sometimes all that takes is just one glance or one simple touch. We cannot pick where, when, or with whom to fall in love with, and such has been the case since time immemorial.
They say that love can triumph over anything might seem sentimental, but the story of King Harald V of Norway and his Queen is proof to support the claim. It’s a real-life story of a forbidden love between the then-crown prince and a commoner, with an incredible fairytale ending.
For as long as monarchies have existed, they have submitted to an unwritten rule that required the monarch and his heirs to marry a spouse from a royal or noble family. It is a historically rare occurrence, but still, there are cases when a commoner marries a royal in real life.
The couple met for the first time in June 1959, at a party organized by their mutual friend, Johan Stenersen. It was a love at first sight. In August of the same year, the prince invited Sonja to his graduation ball, where they were photographed together for the first time.
It was a rather controversial relationship, with many people thinking that Crown Prince Harald of Norway should not get involved in a romance with a Norwegian commoner, but the prince wouldn’t listen to what others had to say and made his intentions clear–he was in love, and wanted to marry Sonja.
At first, Harald’s father, King Olav V, wasn’t aware that his son was in love with a commoner and upon finding out about Harald’s intentions, he tried to persuade his son to put an end to his relationship with Sonja, since he was supposed to marry a lady of royal birth.
Marriage was out of the question if you asked King Olav V, who believed that it would have a negative impact on the young Norwegian monarchy and could even put it at risk. Many politicians and journalists in Norway felt the same way and pressured the crown prince to marry a princess instead of a “girl of the people.”
However, Harald made it clear to his father that he would remain unmarried for life unless he could marry his one and only love, Sonja Haraldsen. And apparently, he was dead serious. The crown prince was about to turn 30 in 1967 and had no intention of marrying anyone other than Sonja and that would really put the monarchy to risk. Both of Harald’s sisters were married to commoners, which meant that it was unclear who would be heir to the throne if Harald had no children.
It took nine years before King Olav V finally gave his blessing and approved a marriage between his son and Sonja. However, he had to ask for an opinion from the prime minister of the Norwegian government, who neither supported the marriage nor advised against it. The couple got married on August 29, 1968, in Oslo, and thus, Sonja, the “girl of the people,” became the princess of Norway.
Olav V died in 1991, and the couple became King Harald V and Queen Sonja. When their son, Crown Prince Haakon, told them that he had the intention of marrying a single mother, they supported him completely and didn’t even ask an opinion from the government.
This year, King Harald V of Norway and Queen Sonja celebrated their 80th birthdays. They continue living according to Harald’s famous motto–“Alt for Norge” or “All for Norway.”