Tuesday, 1 June 2010
Queen Beatrix on state visit to Norway
Spring and early summer are the high season for state visits and Oslo showed itself from its best side on what was perhaps the first real summer day when the Queen of the Netherlands arrived on a state visit today.
As befits a former naval power like the Netherlands, Queen Beatrix arrived on a Dutch naval vessel, “Tromp”. This meant that the official welcoming ceremony for the first time in nearly twenty years took place at the Quay of Honour in front of the City Hall rather than in the Palace Square, and that the King and Crown Prince for once donned their naval rather than army uniforms.
Crown Prince Haakon went out to “Tromp” to welcome Queen Beatrix and escort her to the quay, where she was also greeted by the King, the Queen and the Crown Princess and a selection of notables led by the Speaker of Parliament, Dag Terje Andersen.
Following the welcoming ceremony the royals drove to the Royal Palace where the King and Queen hosted a lunch which was also attended by Princess Astrid and a somewhat frail Princess Ragnhild. It was particularly nice to see the latter, who had not appeared in public since the war hero Gunnar Sønsteby’s 90th birthday in January 2008 and who will herself celebrate her 80th birthday next week.
Later in the day Queen Beatrix, escorted by King Harald and Queen Sonja, laid a wreath at the National Monument at Akershus Fortress, where His Majesty The King’s Guard was again on parade. Following that ceremony Queen Beatrix called on the Speaker of Parliament, something she had to do alone as the King is not allowed to enter the Parliament Building while Parliament is sitting.
Tonight followed a gala banquet at the Royal Palace, which was also attended by Princess Märtha Louise, who lived in the Netherlands for some years in the 1990s and is said to speak fluent Dutch.
Queen Beatrix will stay in Norway for three days and spend the final day in Bergen. She last paid a state visit to Norway in 1986, when she was welcomed by King Olav, who did not live to return the visit. King Harald and Queen Sonja made a state visit to the Netherlands in 1996, which Queen Beatrix has now returned – this also means that she has now paid state visits to most European countries.
Through the Dutch-born Queen Lovisa of Norway and Sweden Queen Beatrix is a fourth cousin of the late King Olav and through Queen Sophia of Norway and Sweden she is also a fourth cousin of Crown Prince Haakon.