Crown Princess Mette-Marit defied the weather once again over the weekend when she opted to mark her 40th birthday a day early with an outdoor church service on the grounds of the Royal Palace. With rain pouring down all morning, the royals and many guests substituted formal wear with wet-weather gear.
Mette-Marit had organized an outdoor music festival for her husband’s 40th birthday last month and he arrived by parachute under sunny skies. She and her family arrived on Sunday in rubber boots, while guests were supplied with rain ponchos if needed.
King Harald and Queen Sonja were outfitted as well with raincoats and hats as they read off tributes to their daughter-in-law. Mette-Marit beamed with pride when Princess Ingrid Alexandra read Francis of Assisi’s prayer, and characteristically started to weep during touching parts of the program.
The special church service was conducted by former Oslo Bishop Gunnar Stålsett, who married the former Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby and Crown Prince Haakon in the Oslo Cathedral 12 years ago, with assistance from a student pastor, Inger Anne Naterstad. The crown princess was also treated to the traditional Norwegian birthday song Hurra for deg (Hurrah for you) and then the king and queen invited everyone present for cake and coffee, rolls and fruit.
Among the 350 guests were Health Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, a personal friend of the crown couple who’d also invited them to his 50th birthday party. Spectators who’d gathered outside the police barricades around the event were offered some cake, too.
Flags were flying all over Norway on Monday, as they usually do on royal birthdays, but no firing of the canons from Akershus Fortress could be heard, in keeping, perhaps, with an earlier request by Mette-Marit to drop the traditional military salute. Stålsett proved correct when he predicted during Sunday’s moist celebration that the sun would come out and shine on the crown princess’ actual birthday. It did.