Princess Ragnhild of Norway was born on June 9th, 1930 to Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha.
Because Skaugum had been damaged in a fire a month earlier, she was born in the guest apartment on the third floor of the Palace. The next day there was an extraordinary cabinet meeting at the Palace where King Haakon
and Crown Prince Olav
informed the members of the Cabinet that the newborn princess would get the names Ragnhild Alexandra. Alexandra in honour of her great grandmother, and Ragnhild after the mother of Harald Fairhair, the man who is commonly believed to be the first king of Norway.
One of the presents at her christening was from 1400 other women in Norway bearing the name of Ragnhild. A cross decorated with 5 Norwegian pearls, which came from five different places across the country. Another present came from Polar Pilot Hjalmar Riiser-Larsen who had named an area in Antarctica for the Princess.
Her paternal grandmother, Queen Maud
, was one of her godparents.
Ragnhild was only a year old the first time she went sailing. Crown Prince Olav then tied his daughter to the mast so that she wouldn’t fall into the water.
When Ragnhild was 20 months old, she became a sister to newborn Astrid. In the beginning she was a bit jealous of all the attention awarded to the newcomer, but she quickly became good friends with her. Living on a farm, it was good to have a playmate that was about her own age.
The two girls played much together, even though they had very different dispositions. Astrid was the tomboy, whilst Ragnhild was more interested in her dolls and her drawings. Queen Maud nicknamed her oldest granddaughter “My little pink baby.”
In the summers they learned to swim in the ocean, sailed with the family or visited family in Sweden. In the winters they skied, skated and played around in the snow, much like other Norwegian children did. The Princesses at Skaugum weren’t aware that they were different from other children; their parents made an effort to raise them as normally as possible.
Princess Ragnhild made her public debut in 1935 when she and Princess Astrid were among the bridesmaids at Princess Ingrid of Sweden’s wedding to Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in Stockholm.
Crown Princess Märtha dressed her girls in similar clothes for a long while, until Ragnhild rebelled at the age of fourteen. By then, her younger sister had outgrown her in height, and she didn’t like it when everybody thought that Astrid was the oldest one.
In 1937, when Ragnhild was almost seven years old, the much longed for brother made his arrival in the family. Later that year, Princess Ragnhild and Princess Astrid started home schooling at Skaugum with some other girls. Their schooling would continue in exile in USA, where they attended school with plenty of other girls
In April, 1940, Princess Ragnhild was awoken by Crown Princess Märtha and told to bring a doll. They were going to take a train ride. The journey they set out on, on April 9th, 1940, would last for five years. The Germans had occupied Norway, and Princess Ragnhild would be nearly 15 years old before she returned.
There was talk of the girls returning to the home-schooling they had had before the exile, but both princesses nagged their parents and were allowed to attend school like all other Norwegian children. They attended Nissen School for Girls, and Princess Ragnhild stayed there for three years, until she graduated. After that she was sent to Switzerland to attend boarding school there. The idea behind it was that she should learn French, but she spent most of the time talking English to the American girls she shared a room with. But she learned to sew, cook, care for children and other things every young girl growing up during the late 1940s should know.
But in reality, Princess Ragnhild was just waiting to become old enough, and to get the royal seal of approval.
When she was 15, she met a 22-year-old soldier who was to become one of the bodyguards of the royal children for a while. It wasn’t love at first sight, but it matured over time, as Princess Ragnhild put it herself. But as Erling Lorentzen became a crew member on Princess Ragnhild and Princess Astrid’s sailboat, ASTRA. Asked to teach them how to sail, by the Crown Prince, Erling also got to spend more time with Ragnhild. In the end, they were certain that they were meant to be together.
It took a while before her parents caught up to the romance. After all, Ragnhild had only been 15 when they first met, and they wanted to be absolutely certain that it wasn’t just a schoolgirl crush. There was also the added problem that Erling wasn’t royal, but that was more King Haakon’s problem as he was the one with the final stamp of approval.
King Haakon’s biggest fear was that the Norwegian royal house would become what the British royal house had become, with Princess Margaret’s reputation as a party princess, and thus the Norwegian princesses were to keep a low profile when it came to boyfriends.
While she waited for the engagement to become public Princess Ragnhild undertook what would be her biggest public assignment ever: Opening the 1952 Winter Olympic games in Oslo.
On February 14th the following year, the engagement was announced. The wedding took place on May 15th, 1953, in Asker Church and Her Royal Highness Princess Ragnhild of Norway became Princess Ragnhild, Mrs Lorentzen.
The couple honeymooned in the USA on their way to Brazil where they would live for two years. The reason for the move to Brazil was that Erling would start a branch of the Lorentzen family's shipping empire there. The two years quickly turned into several, and they have never moved back to Norway, even if they own a cabin in the Norwegian mountains, and an apartment in Oslo.
During the first weeks in Rio de Janeiro, the couple lived at Copacabana Palace Hotel, and Ragnhild spent the time in the hotel room while Erling started building the new business and made useful contacts. After a while they moved into a three-room apartment, quite a difference from the spaciousness of Skaugum and the Palace in Norway. The apartment was upgraded as Erling’s business improved, and the family grew.
In Rio Ragnhild spent time making new friends, and after a while their first child came along. Haakon was born in 1954 in Oslo. Their second child, Ingeborg, was born in 1957, also in Oslo, and their third, and last, child, Ragnhild Alexandra came as an addition to the family in 1968 in Rio.
Princess Ragnhild’s hobbies include fashion, embroidery and watching sports on television.
She has also participated in activities in the Scandinavian church in Rio over the years, but has stepped down a bit as she has gotten older.
She has four grandchildren: Her son Haakon has three children and her daughter Ingeborg has one daughter.
The Lorentzen family has a lot of properties, both in Brazil and in Norway, where they also spend a lot of time, and the children consider Norway home.
The princess is fairly conservative in her viewpoints. Over the past few years she has been in the press a bit, both when she critiqued Princess Märtha Louise and Crown Prince Haakon’s choices in partners and when she denied historians access to her personal correspondence with her father, and burned the letters before anyone could get access to them.
More positive press came when she celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary with Erling aboard the ship “Princess Ragnhild.”
Source: Prinsesse Ragnhild – Mitt Liv som Kongsdatter, 1995.
Pictures are scanned from same book.