Celebration of the Constitution
Let us celebrate our freedoms with wisdom, said His Majesty The King when he undertook the official opening of the bicentennial celebration of the Norwegian Constitution this evening. The event was held on historic ground, at Eidsvoll, where it all began.
Eidsvoll is not just a place. Eidsvoll is the birthplace of an independent Norway. Eidsvoll is the cradle of the freedom on which we build our lives and our country – freedom that people in other parts of the world dream about and fight for, said King Harald, who also expressed a wish for tolerance of differences and debate:
The 112 Eidsvoll men disagreed on many issues. Perhaps the Constitution is such a good document precisely because of the disagreements, discussions and compromises.
King Harald, as well as Her Majesty The Queen and Their Royal Highnesses The Crown Prince and Crown Princess with their familiy, attended the opening celebration, which was hosted by Storting President Olemic Thommessen and Museum Director Erik Jondell.
Two hundred years ago
On 16 February 1814, Danish Prince Christian Frederik, Denmarks vice regent in Norway, convened a council of Norways leading men at Eidsvoll. Here he declared his intention to head the Norwegian resistance against the Treaty of Kiel, in which Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden, and presented a plan to declare himself king.
However, most of those assembled maintained that since Denmark had relinquished its power over Norway, sovereignty had returned to the Norwegian people. Prince Christian Frederik acquiesced, and thus the principle of the sovereignty of the people was adopted.
Three days later Prince Christian Frederik issued a proclamation, that representatives from the whole country was to be elected and convene at Eidsvoll 10 April where they would write a new constitution. The process leading to the Norwegian Constitution was underway.
The opening of the bicentennial celebration was broadcast live on television by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation on Sunday evening. Surrounded by snow and burning torches, the Eidsvoll House – beautifully restored for the celebration – created a moving backdrop for the event.
Nadia Hasnaoui was the host for the programme, which provided historical information and shed light on the significance of the Constitution through music, dance and interviews.
Eidsvoll is more than a place, concluded the King. "Eidsvoll is our awakening to independence.
I hereby declare the bicentennial celebration of the Norwegian Constitution 2014 to be open – and I hope we can join together and say:
Let us celebrate our freedoms with understanding.
Let us live according to the Constitution with wisdom and humanity.
Let 2014 be a year when we stand up for the values that truly mean something to us.