"I remember all the strange faces that bent over me when I was going into the hospital," Queen Sonja said

By Caris Davis
Updated January 20, 2016 12:10 PM
Credit: Jurgen Gomnes, the Royal Court/Getty

Almost 50 years after her tragic miscarriage aboard the royal yacht, Norway’s Queen Sonja is speaking out about her emotional experience.

“I remember all the strange faces that bent over me when I was going into the hospital,” Norway’s Queen Sonja said in an upcoming TV documentary. “It was horrid.”

The baby she lost would have been her first born, ahead of her eldest daughter, Princess Märtha Louise, 44, and her son, Crown Prince Haakon, 42.

The miscarriage marked a dark passage in the life of the then 32-year-old Crown Princess Sonja.

Two months before her devastating miscarriage, Sonja s older sister, Gry Henriksen, committed suicide at 46 years old, following treatment at Modum Bads Sanatorium for trauma she had suffered during World War II.

On July 2, 1970 – following birthday celebrations on board the royal yacht for her father-in-law, King Olaf V – all seemed well as the boat bobbed on the waters of the Hank Strait, more than 70 miles south of Oslo.

Sonja and her husband, Crown Prince (now King) Harald, who had been married two years at the time, had just shared the good news that they were expecting their first baby to a joyful Norwegian public the month before.

But that summer night, close to halfway through her much-anticipated pregnancy, the young mother-to-be felt something was wrong.

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Cramps and bleeding awoke her. She cried out for help.

“Of course it was a desperate situation, I think it was absolutely horrific,” said Queen Sonja, 78, almost half a century later.

“I was lowered on a stretcher down the ship’s side,” she said.

The young princess was rushed to the Fredrikstad Central Hospital on the mainland.

Even though her husband was a royal prince, contemporary protocol dictated he couldn’t advance beyond the front door.

“So I was utterly alone,” she said.

King Olav was among the first to visit his daughter-in-law.

Sonja also received a visit from her mother, Dagny Haraldsen, a bedside meeting that gave the future queen great solace and new strength.

“When my mother can be so calm, I must try to be too,” Queen Sonja has said.

After losing her baby boy that tragic night, the young princess was then forced to face the ordeal of speculation about whether she and her husband would – or could – deliver another baby, an heir to their country’s throne.

“Fortunately, I was able to have more healthy children,” said Queen Sonja, who gave birth to Princess Märtha Louise in September 1971, just a year after the miscarriage, and subsequently, in 1973, to Crown Prince Haakon. She now has six grandchildren.

The seven-part documentary King and Queen For 25 Years airs on the Norwegian station NRK until the end of February.