State Visit to Italy
Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja started a three-day State Visit to Italy today. The King and Queen are heading a delegation of representatives of the Norwegian authorities and Norwegian trade and industry.
King Harald and Queen Sonja arrived in Rome yesterday evening. The first two days of the visit will take place in Rome, and the third in Milan. Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende and Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tord Lien are accompanying the King and Queen in Rome and Milan, respectively.
His Excellency President Sergio Mattarella of the Italian Republic is the host for the visit. Today King Harald and Queen Sonja were formally received by the President in an official welcoming ceremony.
The welcoming ceremony was held in the Courtyard of Honour at Quirinal Palace. The palace is located on Quirinal Hill – one of the seven hills of Rome – and is the official residence of the President of the Italian Republic. President Mattarella greeted the King and Queen together with his daughter, Laura Mattarella, who serves as First Lady.
The national anthems of Italy and Norway were played and the Norwegian flag was raised over Quirinal Palace. Then King Harald and President Mattarella inspected the honour guards of the Italian Army, Navy and Air Force and the Honour Guard to the President.
Following the ceremony, the King and Queen, the President and the official delegations met for discussions. Then the King and Queen had the visit’s first meeting with representatives of the Norwegian and Italian press.
Following an official luncheon hosted by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at his official residence, Palazzo Chigi, King Harald and Queen Sonja met with the President of the Italian Senate, Mr Pietro Grasso, and after that with the President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Ms Laura Boldrini.
In the evening, the King and Queen were once again the guests of President Mattarella in Quirinal Palace at a dinner in honour of the State Visit. As is the tradition on such occasions, both the host and the visiting head of state hold a speech, and King Harald has just concluded his.
The King emphasised the excellent ties between Italy and Norway, and pointed out that Italy is a favourite holiday destination for Norwegians.
"We associate Italy with all that is good: splendid nature, delicious food and wine, great literature, film and art, timeless music – and high quality."
The King also lauded Italy’s considerable efforts in the Mediterranean Sea:
"Italy’s vital presence at sea has helped to save many lives. I salute the Italian crews who, together with crews from other countries, including Norway, carry out difficult rescue operations day after day."
Tomorrow’s programme starts with a visit to the Italian monument of the fatherland, Altare della Patria, where the King will lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.