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King Harald V of Norway - Biography

The Norwegian royal married Queen Sonja in 1968 and became King in 1991

King Harald of Norway in a blue suit with lights behind him attends a Military Tattoo at the Royal Castle
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King Harald's early life

King Harald was born on 21 February 1937 at the royal estate of Skaugum outside Oslo. He was six years old when Germany invaded Norway on 9 April 1943. 

Fleeing just hours before the arrival of the occupation forces, Harald, his mother and two elder sisters, Ragnhild and Astrid, escaped to Sweden and from there travelled to the United States where they spent the duration of the war. Harald's grandfather, King Haakon, and the government held out until June before they too left, setting up a government-in-exile in London.

After Norway was liberated in 1945, the royal family returned home.

King Harald's education

Harald attended a state primary school with only the presence of a police guard in the corridor distinguishing him from his schoolmates. He graduated from secondary school in 1955 and enrolled at Norway's military academy.

He then studied political science, history and economics at Balliol College, Oxford, as his father had before him. Thirty years later, on 17 January 1991, he was sworn in as King Harald V, upon the death of his father King Olav V.

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King Harald's marriage

Before departing for England, Harald had already met his future wife Sonja Haraldsen, an Oslo University graduate. An heir to the throne marrying a non-royal was unprecedented, but the couple's engagement was announced in March 1968 following consultations between King Olav and the government. 

King Harald and Queen Sonja got married in August 1968 at Oslo Cathedral.

King Harald's children

They are parents to two children: Princess Märtha Louise, who was born in 1971, and Crown Prince Haakon Magnus, born two years later.

The latter has served as regent on several occasions amid the King's ill health, which has included urinary bladder cancer in 2005 and cardiac surgery in 2020.

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