Norway’s king and queen were ready to guide their Swedish counterparts on a two-day visit to Harstad and Tromsø in Northern Norway this week. King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia will get an official view of their neighbours’ oil industry and labour market, along with a look at local culture and Norwegian efforts at climate research.
With the grounds of the Royal Palace in Oslo torn up in a year-long refurbishing project, palace and foreign ministry staff arranged a program for the Swedish royal couple that avoids the noisy disruption around King Harald’s and Queen Sonja’s official residence. Instead of entertaining at home, the Norwegian royal couple will host their Swedish guests on board the royal yacht Norge, which already was in position in Lofoten last week so that Queen Sonja could sail in on another mission over the weekend: To honor a local woman, Gina Krog, who played a major role in the campaign for women’s right to vote in Norway. The queen opened a new hiking trail dedicated to Krog, walked in Krog’s footsteps and attended several events marking the Flakstad native’s contribution to securing voting rights for women, the centennial celebrations of which climaxed last week.
On Monday she and King Harald were getting ready to welcome King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia in the northern city of Harstad, not far from Lofoten. The program was to begin on Tuesday with a visit to state oil company Statoil’s Harstad office, which plays a key role in Statoil’s exploration and production plans for the Norwegian and Barents seas.
The Swedish royal couple will be oriented on oil and energy projects and the outlook for economic development in the area. They’ll also visit a local school and a local farm and attend some cultural events in addition to strolling a bit in the city.
The royals will then proceed to Tromsø, where the program will switch from oil industry activity to that which is trying to protect the region from it. The kings and queens will visit the Polar Museum, climate and environmental researchers at the FRAM Center and atthe University of Tromsø, which has a cooperation with Sweden’s University of Umeå in marine biology.
The royals’ program will also include a visit to Tromsø’s botanical gardens and to the Northern Norwegian Art Museum, where a royal exhibition is still on display. The Swedish king and queen will also meet a few young Swedes who are among the thousands of their fellow citizens who have found work in Norway.
News bureau NTB reported that the Swedish royal couple’s official visit is the first since 2005, when both countries diplomatically marked the 100th anniversary of the dissolution of the union between Sweden and Norway in 1905. Sweden’s ambassador to Norway, Ingrid Hjelt af Trolle, told NTB it was “very positive” that the visit would highlight Northern Norway this time.
Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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