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FeaturesNorway

The king who gave his own daughter-in-law away


By Riksarkivet (National Archives of Norway) from Oslo, Norway - Ekteparet Sonja og Harald hilser publikum fra slottsbalkongen sammen med HM Kong Olav, No restrictions, Wikimedia Commons

When Crown Prince Harald announced his intent to marry commoner Sonja Haraldsen, King Olav knew his future daughter-in-law’s father had died almost a decade before; so, being a gentleman, the monarch chose to escort Sonja down the aisle to his son.

Crown Prince Harald married the love of his life on 29 August 1968 after announcing their engagement on 19 March 1968. The couple had dated secretly for nine years as Sonja was a commoner. There was no one else for Harald but Sonja, and he made that clear to the King. He vowed that if he couldn’t marry her, he would marry no one – effectively ending the current line in the Norwegian Royal Family. The King spoke to the Norwegian government, and they gave their blessing for the union.

Sonja’s father, Karl August Haraldsen, died in 1959, and to show support for Sonja, Olav walked her down the aisle at Oslo Cathedral to the tune of Henry Purcell’s “Trumpet Tune and Air.” It was not something the King had to do; he chose to do it out of the kindness of his heart and fondness for the new member of his family. This was a way Olav could publicly show support for the commoner Sonja after she and Harald had been together for so many years and finally got governmental approval to wed.

There is no doubt, King Olav walking Sonja down the aisle made a deep impression on the Norweigan people, as well as Sonja herself and her family. He did what many fathers-in-law would do in the same situation. Olav truly was “The People’s King.”

King Olav reigned over Norway from 21 September 1957 – 17 January 1991. After his death in 1991, his only son, Harald, ascended the throne with Sonja at his side. She was the first Queen consort for Norway in 52 years (Harald’s mother, Märtha, died before Olav ascended the throne). Queen Sonja is a very popular royal in Norway and quite hardworking. She is beloved by her country and a true mother and grandmother of the nation.

About author

Brittani is from Tennessee, USA. She is a political scientist and historian after graduating with a degree in the topics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in December 2014. She also holds a master's degree from Northeastern University. She enjoys reading and researching all things regarding the royals of the world. Her love of royals began in middle school, and she's been researching, reading, and writing on royalty for over a decade. She became Europe Editor in October 2016, and then Deputy Editor in January 2019, and has been featured on several podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts and websites including Global News Canada, ABC News Australia, WION India and BBC World News.