King Harald and Queen Sonja were breaking with tradition like most others this Christmas, by not spending the holidays at their timber lodge in the hills above Oslo. The king also sent out a special televised greeting, a gesture usually reserved for New Year’s Eve.
Norwegians watching state broadcaster NRK’s nightly newscast Dagsrevyen on Lille Julaften Thursday (literally “Little Christmas Eve” and a holiday of sorts itself) were suddenly told at the end of the newscast that the monarch had a special greeting – and there he was, seated at his desk with some good wishes and a message.
He noted at the outset that this Christmas won’t be “normal” this year either, because of all the reinstated Corona virus restrictions. He acknowledged that many were heading into the holidays “with disappointment, feelings of loss and worries about the future.” He said he hoped the Christmas holidays, “despite everything,” could still be filled with “warmth and caring” for one another.
“It’s once again time to remember what each and every one of us can do,” King Harald said. “Make a telephone call to someone you know would appreciate it. Send a greeting to someone who needs it. Go for a walk with someone you care about. We’re all able to make life a bit brighter for the people around us.”
He ended with the traditional wish for en riktig god jul, a really Merry Christmas, from both himself and his family. And that’s where he and the queen were facing a change themselves this year.
Instead of heading for Kongsseteren, the lodge near Holmenkollen that Queen Sonja herself recently claimed “is made for Christmas celebrations,” the Royal Palace announced that the king and queen will be spending the holidays at the royal estate Bygdø kongsgård, usually used as a summer home on Bygdøy in Oslo. There was no official explanation for the change, but there’s little snow for any skiing up at their lodge and the large extended family gatherings hosted there in earlier years aren’t allowed under current Corona restrictions.
On Friday, the palace reported, King Harald and Queen Sonja would be traveling out to suburban Asker for Christmas Eve celebrations with their son, Crown Prince Haakon, and his family. They live on the royal estate called Skaugum, where the king and queen also lived when he was heir to the throne.
The palace also released the following official Christmas photo of the royal family, along with their greetings:
From left: Prince Sverre Magnus, Queen Sonja, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Princess Ingrid Alexandra, King Harald and Crown Prince Haakon. PHOTO: Det kongelige hoff/NTB/ Lise Åserud