Queen Maud never had designs on becoming a queen when she was born, a daughter of the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom, in 1869. As a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, she was raised in splendour, and well-travelled, having visited her mother’s home country, Denmark, many times, where she became acquainted wit her cousin, Prince Carl of Denmark.
The two married in 1896 and settled in Copenhagen with their only child, a son named Prince Alexander. In 1905, the couple were elected to become the new monarchs of a newly-independent Norway; following a plebiscite in November of that year, they were officially consecrated as King Haakon VII and Queen Maud; their son became Crown Prince Olav.
As Queen, Maud was shy, and carried out many of her engagements privately, though she worked on behalf of a wide-reaching variety of causes in the social and cultural spheres. During the First World War, she was active in establishing a charitable fund that would provide aid to vulnerable people.
Though she was publicly shy, with her family she was boisterous. The Norwegian Royal House notes that she devoted herself to her son’s care, and took great strides in turning him into a “thoroughly Norwegian boy, although she herself never became fluent in Norwegian.”
Queen Maud focused her attention on causes related to children and animals, and was style icon of her day – she was one of the earliest diplomatic dressers, who used her clothes to send a message. She also loved outdoor sports, including horseback riding, and skiing, which was introduced to her once she moved to Norway.
She never lost her love of or connection with Great Britain, and travelled back to her home country frequently. Some credit her close relations with the United Kingdom as a way of helping Norway during the war.
Queen Maud passed away in 1938 on a visit to Great Britain. She had taken ill during her visit and required an abdominal surgery; her husband travelled to her bedside, but she died on 20 November of that year. Her death, unexpected and premature, shocked everyone.
Newspapers in Norway normally didn’t publish on Sundays, but were given carte blanche to do so to announce her death. Queen Maud’s body was returned to Norway aboard the HMS Royal Oak and she was buried at the mausoleum at Akershus Castle in Oslo.
She was the last queen consort of Norway until 1991, when her granddaughter-in-law came to the throne.
Queen Sonja, the popular consort of King Harald, was born in Oslo on 4 July 1937. Raised in Vinderen, Sonja continued her schooling there and received a diploma in dressmaking and tailoring at the Oslo Vocational School.
She continued her education with a diploma in social science, accounting and fashion design from the École Professionelle des Jeunes Filles in Switzerland and an undergraduate degree from the University of Oslo in French, English, and Art History.
Sonja met her future husband in 1959, and the pair dated for the next decade. Theirs was a true love match, with Harald promising to his father that he would never marry if he was not allowed to marry Sonja. Olav, eventually, gave his blessing to their marriage, and the couple were married on 29 August 1968.
Sonja then became the Crown Princess of Norway and assumed the responsibilities of the first lady of Norway, attending engagements with and on behalf of her widower father-in-law (whose wife had passed away in 1954). She has two children: Princess Märtha Louise, born 1971, and Crown Prince Haakon, born in 1973.
Upon her husband’s accession to the throne in 1991, Sonja became only the second Queen of Norway in modern history, and the country’s first queen in 53 years. Her areas of interest including art and design, culture, music, nature, outdoor activities, and the environment.