King Harald V and Queen Sonja retreated to their royal timber lodge in the hills above Oslo this week. They’ll be celebrating the Christmas holidays there with their daughter and her family, while their son and daughter-in-law will spend Christmas with Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s family at the crown couple’s home in suburban Asker.
They posed for some traditional holiday photos at the Royal Palace in Oslo before the family, like so many others, headed in separate directions for the main Norwegian celebration on julaften (Christmas Eve). Crown Prince Haakon and his immediate family have alternated recently between spending Christmas with the king and queen at their Oslo hilltop lodge (known as Kongsseteren) and at their own mountain cabin in Uvdal.
News bureau NTB reported this week that it’s been six years since they stayed home for Christmas at their royal estate at Skaugum in Asker. After one last royal duty before Christmas Eve settles over the country (eating lunch with homeless and others served by a local church mission in Oslo), they were set to welcome the crown princess’ family to Skaugum, and attend Christmas Eve services at the nearby Asker Church.
King Harald and Queen Sonja, meanwhile, would be welcoming their daughter, Princess Martha Louise, and her three daughters Maud Angelica, Leah Isadora and Emma Tallulah to Kongsseteren on Christmas Eve. The princess is now divorced from their father, author Ari Behn, but he told newspaper VG that he would also be joining in on Christmas celebrations at Kongsseteren.
“I’m still a member of the family, and have good contact with the king and queen,” Behn told VG. The Royal Palace’s official announcement of royal holiday plans did not mention Behn’s presence at Kongsseteren, but did add that the family would be attending Christmas Day services at the nearby Holmenkollen Chapel.
While they’ll be splitting up on Christmas Eve, members of the royal family have been involved in plenty of other celebrations recently. Last year King Harald celebrated his 25th anniversary as reigning monarch and this year both he and the queen turned 80, setting off several other major celebrations.
Next year they’ll celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, but the couple recently told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that they’ve decided to drop any major public celebrations of that.
“We think we have celebrated so much now,” the couple said almost in unison during a year-end interview with NRK. “Enough’s enough,” added Queen Sonja, who also made a traditional charitable visit to a local nursing home just before the holidays. They’ll opt instead for a more private celebration of their golden wedding anniversary on August 29, 2018, with family and friends.