Netherlands’ queen sails into Oslo
June 1, 2010
Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands made a grand entrance into Oslo on Tuesday, arriving on a royal launch after disembarking from a naval vessel in the fjord under sunny skies. She received a 21-gun salute from the canons at the historic Akershus Fortress, and a royal welcome indeed.
The canons started firing when her royal flotilla first came into view farther down the fjord. The weather couldn’t have been better, and curious onlookers gathered on the piers of nearby Aker Brygge and Tjuvholmen to watch events unfold.
Waiting on a decorated platform in front of City Hall were King Harald, Queen Sonja, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Crown Prince Haakon, the latter just home from a trip to Shanghai for Norway Day at Expo 2010 and Qatar, for a Young Global Leaders conference. Norwegian and Dutch flags waved in a light breeze and the King’s Guards serenaded the crowd.
As Queen Beatrix’ vessel approached, the canons fired again, several times, and then came return music and salutes from her vessel, as the royal launch sailed out to pick her up with Norway’s crown prince on board.
Oslo seemed a million miles from the tragic news breaking on the waters off Gaza this week. While government leaders all over the world were wringing their hands over Israel’s attack on a convoy attempting to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, the royals were getting ready to party.
There were bound to be some serious talks during Queen Beatrix’ visit, but her schedule, like most of those involving state visits, was full of ceremony and royal pomp. A festive lunch at the Royal Palace would be followed by traditional wreath-laying ceremonies Tuesday afternoon, and then a gala banquet at the palace Tuesday evening for 200 invited guests. Norway’s Princess Astrid, older sister of King Harald, and Princess Martha Louise, the king’s daughter, would attend as well, to stress “the good relations” between the two royal houses.
Queen Beatrix, age 72, is a year younger than King Harald but has reigned as monarch much longer, since 1980, when her mother Queen Juliana abdicated at the age of 71. Queen Beatrix remains active and faced a full program during her three days in Norway, which was to include a conference on women’s equality, a government-hosted lunch at Akershus and a performance at the Opera on Wednesday, and then a quick trip over the mountains to Bergen.
The queen didn’t sail all the way from The Netherlands, however. News bureau NTB reported that she and her entourage, to shorten the trip, flew to the new airport at Rygge and then were taken by helicopter out to the fjord, where her Dutch frigate was waiting.