Royal Dutch visit ends in Bergen

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Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands wrapped up a three-day state visit to Norway on Thursday with a quick trip over the mountains from Oslo to Bergen. Before that, there was lots of ceremony and pageantry in the Norwegian capital.

The Dutch queen arrived under unusually sunny skies on Tuesday, literally sailing into Oslo by cruising up the Oslo Fjord on a Dutch frigate. After welcoming ceremonies on the pier (including a kiss from Norwegian Crown Princess Mette-Marit in Fotoglif foto, top right) she was driven in a royal convoy for more welcoming ceremonies at the Royal Palace. 

Queen Beatrix patiently posed for photos with King Harald and Queen Sonja, who then offered her lunch at the palace before more ceremonial visits at Oslo’s historic Akershus Fortress and Castle, from which canons had blasted to mark the Dutch queen’s arrival earlier in the day.

Wreath-laying ceremonies completed, it was back to the palace for a gala banquet Tuesday evening, attended by more than 200 guests. That party attracted a few other members of the Norwegian royal family including King Harald’s older sister Princess Astrid and his daughter, Princess Martha Louise. They all posed for a family photo (third from the top) with, from left, King Harald, Queen Beatrix, Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Princess Martha Louise and Princess Astrid. The king’s other sister, Princess Ragnhild, lives in Brazil.

On Wednesday the Palace and the Foreign Ministry had arranged visits to a conference on equality in the work place, at the Oslo Stock Exchange, and a school at Bjørnholt that’s making strides in integration of foreign and Norwegian students.

The government invited for lunch back at Akershus, hosted by Education Minister Kristin Halvorsen, who was stepping in for Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg because he was in Vilnius for a meeting of Baltic leaders. Halvorsen is a firm republican whose Socialist Left party thinks the monarchy should be abolished, but she tactfully left that out of her prepared remarks.

After an evening at the Opera on Wednesday, the queen flew to Bergen for a walk on the historic Bryggen, which had leaped into the news after nearby residents had to be evacuated from a nearby house. Bergen has also been making headlines this week because of the ill effects of a strike by municipal employees that’s closed schools and day care centers, affected garbage pick-up and various other government services.

The queen’s entourage clearly did its best to avoid such disturbances, visiting Fløien for lunch and attending a concert at composer Edvard Grieg’s home outside the city center.

Next week Norway’s king and queen will make another visit outside of Oslo, to Oppland County, while the crown prince and princess will fly off to northern Germany. Then they’ll all head to Stockholm the week after, for the royal wedding of Swedish Crown Princess Victoria.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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