Canons roared and children cheered outside the Royal Palace in Oslo when the Netherlands’ King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima arrived on Tuesday for the 100th state visit hosted by Norway’s own royal couple, King Harald and Queen Sonja. The Corona crisis halted all such pageantry but this week the flags and fancy clothes are back on full display.
The three-day visit began Tuesday morning with traditional welcoming ceremonies outside the palace, where a cold rain during the night had stopped falling. Then there was an exchange of gifts inside, a session with photographers and refreshments before the royals headed for a wreath-laying at the Akershus Fortress and Castle’s National Monument.
Then King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima visited Parliament before returning to the palace for a late lunch, also attended by Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Princess Märtha Louise. The rest of the afternoon was spent at the Fram Museum on Bygdøy, including a round-table discussion on Arctic issues with local students.
All the pomp and ceremony is meant to mark close relations between Norway and the Netherlands and the two countries’ royal families. King Willem-Alexander’s mother, Queen Beatrix, grandmother Queen Juliana and great-grandmother Queen Wilhelmina all made state visits to Oslo, too. The current king and queen also visited Norway on a less-formal “friendship visit” in 2013, shortly after Queen Beatrix abdicated and turned the throne over to her oldest son.
King Harald and Queen Sonja were holding a gala dinner at the palace Tuesday night, with tables set for 197 guests. On Wednesday the Dutch royal couple was due to visit Oslo main library, where they would take part in a seminar on freedom of expression, and see the capital’s redeveloped eastern waterfront at Bjørvika. That would be followed by an official lunch hosted by the government at Akershus and then a visit on board the Dutch naval vessel HMS Rotterdam, tied up near Akershus for talks about Norwegian-Dutch defense cooperation. In the evening, the royals would attend a concert at the new MUNCH museum back in Bjørvika.
On Thursday, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit will escort their Dutch guests to Trondheim for visits to SINTEF Ocean, NTNU, and the Nidaros Cathedral before the state visit draws to a close.