State visit starts on the wrong note

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The canons were firing from the walls of the historic Akershus Fortress and Castle on Thursday, to signal the start of a state visit to Norway by the president of Switzerland, Doris Leuthard. The visit got off to an embarrassing note, though, when a military band failed to play the correct Swiss national anthem.

Leuthard arrived at the Royal Palace under sunny skies, and was met by traditional royal pageantry. That included a musical interlude with national anthems, but Swiss citizens in attendance didn’t recognize what the military band (Forsvarets stabsmusikkorps) thought was the Swiss national anthem.

“Clearly there’s been a mistake here,” Major Rune Wiik told news bureau NTB. “Now we’re working to correct it and get it right.”

Staff at the Swiss Embassy in Oslo took it all in good humour and stressed that they had nothing to do with the mix-up.

After lunch at the palace, King Harald and Queen Sonja were to take Leuthard and her husband Roland Hausin for a traditional wreath-laying ceremony at the national monument at Akershus.

From there, the official program included a visit to the Norwegian Design and Architecture Center (DogA) for the opening of a Swiss design exhibition, before King Harald was to take Leuthard to the Parliament (Stortinget) to meet its president, Dag Terje Andersen. Meanwhile, Queen Sonja would take Hausin to the Technical Museum in Maridalen to see an exhibit on oil and gas and the use of plastics.

Norway’s royal couple was hosting a gala banquet at the Palace Thursday evening for the Swiss couple, with events continuing through Friday, including a medical seminar and a speech by Leuthard at the Nobel Institute. Both Switzerland and Norway have refused to join the European Union (EU), but her topic involved the direction of the European continent.

The state visit was to conclude with a concert and reception at Oslo’s Grand Hotel on Friday evening.

Views and News staff