Sun shone on German state visit

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They could hardly have hoped for better weather: King Harald was able to officially welcome German President Joachim Gauck and his wife Daniela Schadt to Norway this week under clear blue skies, warm sunshine and a rather refreshing breeze. The state visit from Germany’s head of state was aimed at further strengthening Norway’s ties with one of its most important allies and largest trading partners. 

German President Joachim Gauck was also greeted by school children waving flags as King Harald and Queen Sonja officially welcomed him to Norway at the start of his three-day state visit on Wednesday. PHOTO: Kongehuset/Berit Roald/NTB Scanpix

German President Joachim Gauck was also greeted by school children waving flags as King Harald and Queen Sonja officially welcomed him to Norway at the start of his three-day state visit on Wednesday. PHOTO: Kongehuset/Berit Roald/NTB Scanpix

Flags were waving and canons roared from the Akershus Fortress at precisely 10am on Wednesday, when the state visit began in front of the Royal Palace in Oslo. It continued with the traditional exchange of gifts inside the palace and a formal photo session before the monarch and the president headed to Akershus to lay down a wreath at the National Monument honouring those killed during World War II.

Germany has gone from being an occupying force and bitter enemy of the Norwegian resistance forces to being one of Norway’s closest international partners. On the political level, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been in Norway several times and worked closely with former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg on a variety of issues, playing a key role in his recent appointment as the next secretary general of NATO. Now it was the German president’s turn to visit, with a full program that also included meetings with Norway’s new prime minister, Erna Solberg, and the president of the Norwegian parliament, Olemic Thommessen.

Formal photos followed inside the Royal Palace. From left, Daniela Schadt, German President Joachim Gauck, King Harald, Queen Sonja and Crown Prince Haakon. PHOTO: Kongehuset/Lise Åserud/NTB Scanpix

Formal photos followed inside the Royal Palace. From left, Daniela Schadt, German President Joachim Gauck, King Harald, Queen Sonja and Crown Prince Haakon. PHOTO: Kongehuset/Lise Åserud/NTB Scanpix

At the same time, Queen Sonja and Daniela Schadt visited the popular Elvebakken High School, accompanied by, among others, Norwegian Education Minister Torbjørn Røe Isaksen and Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang. After lunch at the palace, the entourage headed for the Norwegian Nobel Institute for a panel debate on “Peace, Security and Human Rights.”

No state visit is complete without a formal banquet back at the Royal Palace, which was attended by around 200 guests along with Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit (just back from a whirlwind visit to New York, where she spoke at the United Nations) and King Harald’s sister, Princess Astrid.

On Thursday, the German couple started the day on the grounds of the large swimming pool complex at Oslo’s Frogner Park, where the annual Youngwood cultural festival for children is being held for the seventh year in a row. It’s part of the annual Norwegian Wood festival, involving several days of concerts that take over the location in the evenings. The German president opened this year’s Youngwood and met with young Norwegians who are studying German at school.

Queen Sonja and German President Joachim Gauck led the official entourage in to the gala dinner at the Royal Palace Wednesday evening. PHOTO: Kongehuset/Audun Braastad / NTB Scanpix

Queen Sonja and German President Joachim Gauck led the official entourage in to the gala dinner at the Royal Palace Wednesday evening. PHOTO: Kongehuset/Audun Braastad / NTB Scanpix

Prime Minister Solberg then invited the German couple for an official government lunch back at Akershus, followed by a meeting with Norwegian business leaders at Oslo City Hall. On Thursday evening, the royals and several other guests were invited to join Gauck and Schadt on board a German sailing ship moored at Akershus.

The state visit was to end on Friday in Trondheim, after Crown Prince Haakon traveled with the German couple to the historic Norwegian city that’s home to the Nidaros Cathedral. The day’s events were also due to include meetings at Norway’s main technical university NTNU.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund