No canon salute as mourning ends

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As Norway heads into a long weekend of special ceremonies to conclude its official mourning period after last month’s terrorist attacks, Crown Princess Mette-Marit has refused to allow the military to fire canons in recognition of her 38th birthday on Friday. Blasts from canons at 16 sites around the country were deemed inappropriate, four weeks to the day after the bombing of government headquarters and a massacre on the island of Utøya.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit, center, has taken part in many memorials after the July 22 terrorist attacks in Norway and didn't want canons to be fired on her birthday just four weeks later. At left, Crown Prince Haakon and at right, former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland at a memorial broadcast live on Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). PHOTO: NRK/Views and News

It’s traditional for the military to fire off a 21-gun salute at five-second intervals from fortresses and other military installations to mark royal birthdays. In Oslo, for example, the canons are traditionally fired from the Akershus Fortress and Castle, and military officials had announced Thursday afternoon that the salutes would take place at high noon on August 19th, in honor of the crown princess.

But VG Nett reported late Thursday night that she didn’t want the firing to occur. “The crown princess has asked that no salute be fired on the occasion of her birthday on August 19, in consideration of all those affected by the terrorist attacks against the government complex and Utøya,” Marianne Hagen, communications chief at the palace, told VG Nett.

The palace was apparently a bit slow in getting the message to the military, but at 10pm, military officials confirmed there would be no salute at noon on Friday. With so much else going on in recent weeks, neither the royal family nor their staff had apparently considered the potentially negative associations of canons going off so soon after the attacks.

“We hadn’t thought about it,” Hagen told VG Nett. “When we did, we felt it would be wrong and gave the message to the military.”

Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang said he was glad there would be no traditional canon salute. “In a normal situation, it would have been fine,” Stang told VG Nett. “I think it was a wise decision from the Royal Palace in this difficult time.”

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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