King Harald V of Norway - Biography

When, in 2000, the Norwegian royal family revealed the heir to the throne was to marry a commoner and single mother, it sparked heated political debate. But it was not the first time a royal Norwegian match had triggered controversy.


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Thirty years earlier the current monarch, then Crown Prince Harald, also provoked a reaction when he announced he intended to marry a non-royal.

Born on 21 February, 1937, at the royal estate of Skaugum just outside Oslo, Harald 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 to an enthusiastic welcome. Reflecting the man of the people he was to become, 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 from which he passed out in 1959.

After leaving the academy, Crown Prince Harald had received the title just before his grandfather\'s death in 1957. He 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.

Before departing for England, Harald had already met the woman who nine years later was to become his wife -  the Oslo University-educated Sonja Haraldsen, a commoner. An heir to the throne marrying a non-royal was unprecedented and the couple\'s engagement was announced in March 1968 only following consultations between King Olav and the government.

Harald and Sonja have two children, Princess Märtha Louise, who was born in 1971, and Crown Prince Haakon Magnus, born two years later.

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