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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

‘Harald & Sonja’ film wins funding

The long-supressed romance between Norway’s King Harald and Queen Sonja, and their nine-year battle to finally be allowed to marry, is now set to be the subject of a full-length feature film. The film, titled Harald & Sonja, has won NOK 12 million in financial support from the Norwegian Film Institute (NFI), and may become Norway’s version of the popular British series The Crown.

Sonja Haraldsen, daughter of a retailer in Oslo, finally became Crown Princess Sonja after nine years of waiting to be deemed worthy of the role. Now the story behind then-Crown Prince Harald’s battle to be allowed to marry Sonja is being turned into a film. PHOTO: Kongehuset/NTB Scanpix archive

“The story of how then-Crown Prince Harald found and had to fight for Sonja Haraldsen isn’t just an important part of Norwegian history,” said NFI director Kjersti Mo, “it’s also an incredible love story that will touch both those who remember the story from their youth and those who hear it for the first time.”

Mo noted how the royal drama has never been shown on film, but “has the potential to draw in the public in the same way that Margrete den første, Spencer and The Crown have done.” That’s why the panel that evaluates proposed films’ appeal for its marketing program “clearly has great faith the cinema public wants this film,” Mo said.

Crown Prince Harald met Sonja Haraldsen, the daughter of an apparel merchant in Oslo, in 1959 and the couple fell in love. Tradition at the time, however, called for Norway’s heir to the throne to marry a European princess, not a commoner like Sonja. Harald’s father, the late King Olav V, refused to grant permisson for the marriage, while Harald also faced opposition from top Norwegian politicians and a feared lack of public support for Sonja.

Little was written about their romance, which was kept largely under wraps, and all but sabotaged by royal and political protocol. Harald eventually claimed that if he couldn’t marry Sonja, he would remain single, thus putting the future of Norway’s young monarchy at risk.

It wasn’t until 1968 that their engagement finally was announced, narrowly avoiding a constitutional crisis, and they married on August 29 of that year. The new film on the royal drama will be directed by Vibeke Idsøe and produced by Paradox Rettigheter AS, in turn backed by Finn Gjerdrum, Stein B Kvae and Thea Røhr Østvold. Berglund



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