The Norwegian birthday song Hurra for deg ! resonated through the Palace Square yesterday, 31 May. More than 3 000 pre-school children had gathered to honour the birthdays of Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja, who looked on from the Palace Balcony.
The King and the Queen are both celebrating their 75th birthdays this year, and yesterday the festivities started with a performance by the Royal Guard Norwegian Military Drill Team and the singing of the Norwegian birthday song in the Palace Square. Each year on Norwegian Constitution Day on May 17th, schoolchildren march through the Palace Square in the customary childrens parade. Yesterday it was the pre-schoolers turn to fill the square, where they were served juice and buns and watched the drill team perform, before they gave a rousing rendition of Norways traditional birthday song.
The King and Queen were joined on the Palace Balcony by the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and their family, Princess Märtha Louise and Mr Ari Behn and their daughters, and Princess Astrid, Mrs Ferner and Mr Johan Martin Ferner.
Buns and juice
The City of Oslo treated the children to the customary birthday fare of buns and juice, and the members of the Royal Court had the pleasure of handing them out. They had to return to the Palace several times to replenish their baskets before all of the children had received their goodies.
Drill team performance
The Royal Guard Norwegian Military Drill Team performed in the Palace Square in honour of the King and Queen, impressing many of the onlookers. Mayor of Oslo Fabian Stang talked to some of the children, many of whom made it clear that they wanted to grow up to be members of His Majesty The Kings Guard.
The King and Queen also received formal birthday greetings from representatives of Norwegian officialdom yesterday. The Mayor of Oslo was the first to offer his congratulations, followed by representatives of the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities (KS), the Church of Norway, the County Governors, the Norwegian Armed Forces, Sametinget (the Sami Parliament), and the diplomatic corps.
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Tore Schei, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and President of the Storting Dag Terje Andersen were also among the well-wishers.
Gala performance on the roof of the Opera House
In the evening the Government invited all of Norway to a free gala performance on the roof of the Opera House in Oslo. The King and Queen arrived on the Royal Barge Stjernen, accompanied by the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and their family, Princess Märtha Louise and Mr Ari Behn and their family, and Princess Astrid, Mrs Ferner.
Norwegian singer and actress Herborg Kråkevik was the emcee for the evening, which featured speeches, readings, video greetings, and musical and dance performances. The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra performed on its own in addition to accompanying a variety of emerging and well-established performers in a wide range of genres.
Congratulations are presented today from His Majesty King Harald to His Excellency Mr Egils Levits, President of the Republic of Latvia.
World Heritage at Vega
In 2004, UNESCO inscribed the Vega Archipelago on the World Heritage List. Today His Royal Highness The Crown Prince was in attendance to open the new Vega Archipelago World Heritage Centre – Norway’s first authorised centre of its kind.