King Harald and Queen Sonja hosted another garden party on Thursday, this one in their own backyard at the Royal Palace in Oslo. They invited 50 people from each of Norway’s counties plus Svalbard, along with a few hundred others including the prime minister. The idea was to celebrate a Norway in miniature.
Norway is, according to the monarch, more than just fjords and mountains, the Midnight Sun and winter darkness, the islands and coastline that spread from north to south. It’s the people who are Norway, he said.
“Norwegians are from Trøndelag and Nordland and Sørlandet, and folks from all other regions,” King Harald said in his welcoming remarks. “Norwegians have also immigrated from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Poland, Sweden, Somalia and Syria. My grandparents immigrated from Denmark and England 110 years ago.”
He noted that Norwegians are young and old, short and tall, rich and poor. “Norwegians like football and handball, climbing mountaintops and sailing, while others are most happy on the sofa,” King Harald went on. “Some have a good sense of self-confidence, while others struggle to believe they are good enough as they are.
“Norwegians are engaged youth and wise elderly, Norwegians are single, divorced, young families and old married couples,” said King Harald, whose daughter Princess Martha Louise is currently going through a divorce. “Norwegians are girls who love girls, boys who love boys and girls and boys who love each other. Norwegians believe in God, Allah, everything and nothing. Norwegians like Grieg and Kygo, the Hellbillies and Kari Bremnes.
‘Norway is you, Norway is us’
“In others words, Norway is you,” the king told his roughly 1,500 guests. “Norway is us. We make up this country.” The 79-year-old king, celebrating 25 years as Norway’s monarch this year, said his “greatest hope” for Norway “is that we will manage to take care of one another. That we will build this country further, based on confidence in one another, fellowship and generosity. And that we understand that we are one people.”
The royal couple held a series of garden parties earlier this summer, when they sailed down Norway’s coast in celebration of their 25th anniversary as king and queen. The parties were held in the ports where their yacht docked, but now they wanted to invite Norwegians from all over the country home to them. Guests were selected to represent a cross-section of the population, and included many local community activists.
They were all treated to finger food drinks and entertainment including performances by folk dancers, the King’s Guards and the Oslo Soul Children and Teens. “This is like a dream for me,” Joar Sten Olav Sargon Hætta from Kautokeino in Finnmark told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). The 17-year-old wearing his sami dress said he’d wanted to visit the palace since was a child. “Even though we’re not inside the palace, I think it’s very exciting to be here with all these finely dressed guests.”
They also included Prime Minister Erna Solberg, the chief justice of Norway’s Supreme Court, the president of the Parliament and many other dignitaries. In addition to the king and queen, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit were there, along with their children Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Prince Sverre Magnus, and the king’s sister, Princess Astrid.