The sun broke through heavy clouds over Oslo Tuesday morning, just as thousands of school children started marching by the Royal Palace in their annual Constitution Day parade on the 17th of May. The king and queen were in place as usual to greet them.
So were Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and their oldest child, Princess Ingrid Alexandra, who’s eventually expected to take over for her father as Norway’s first reigning queen one day. In the meantime, she’s already learning to patiently wave to the masses from the palace balcony.
It would take a few hours for Ingrid Alexandra, her parents and grandparents to greet all the passers-by on Tuesday. There were 103 elementary schools on the program in Oslo, led off by Sagene School this year and ending with St Sunniva’s.
In between the school groups were various marching bands, drill corps and choirs who also stop to offer impromptu song and performances.
The parade always starts around 10am from assembly points at large squares around town, before joining on Oslo’s main boulevard called Karl Johan’s Gate and then heading past the Parliament Building (Stortinget), where the president of the parliament stands on a special ceremonial balcony to greet them.
From there, the parade proceeds up Karl Johans Gate to the Royal Palace, passing under the palace balcony before dispersing at the large plaza in front of City Hall.
The schoolchildren’s parade is then followed by groups from the University of Oslo and four high schools (videregåendeskoler) before the graduating seniors (Russen 2011) finish off the day after weeks of heavy partying.
After several gloomy weather forecasts, the sun came out over the outdoor 17th of May celebrations elsewhere in Norway as well. Even in the northern city of Tromsø, the crowds braved a strong breeze but there was no rain as the national anthem was played in the city’s central square and local students prepared to deliver their patriotic speeches. The sun was also shining along the southern coast and the west coast city of Ålesund was spared rain as well as its local parade got underway.