Sunday, 17 May 2009

Norway’s Constitution Day

Today, 17 May, is the national holiday of Norway, commemorating the Constitution which was signed at Eidsvoll on 17 May 1814. By now our Constitution is the second-oldest still in force in the world (after the American Constitution of 1787), a position it has held since the Swedish Constitution of 1809 was repealed in 1974.
As usual the King, Queen, Crown Prince and Crown Princess greeted the children’s parade from the balcony of the Royal Palace in Oslo (photo 2). Princess Ingrid Alexandra was with them at the beginning, while Princess Astrid watched from a window. For the first time Prince Sverre Magnus also made a brief appearance. The first member of the royal family to greet the parade from that balcony was supposedly Crown Prince Gustaf in 1901, but already in 1845 Queen Josephina, Prince Gustaf and Princess Eugénie received the parade from a window of “Paleet”, which was then the royal residence in Christiania (now Oslo).
It is of course an irony that the parade passes the statue of King Carl XIV Johan (picture 3), who was strongly opposed to the 17 May celebrations and wanted the Norwegians to celebrate 4 November, the founding day of the union with Sweden, instead.
The fourth picture shows the children’s parade on its way up the capital’s main street, named for the same king, as seen from the Parliament Building, where the Speaker, Thorbjørn Jagland, received it (fifth photo). It is the last time he does so, as he will be leaving Parliament after the upcoming general election.
After the children’s parade came the parade of the high school graduates (sixth photo), happy as ever to complete thirteen years in school.

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