State Visit from India
Today, Their Majesties The King and Queen welcomed President Pranab Mukherjee of India and his daughter, Madame Sharmistha Mukherjee, to Norway. The visit began with a formal ceremony on the Palace Square this morning.
This is the first time the head of state of India has conducted a State Visit to Norway. The objective is to further develop the good relations between the two countries and to strengthen cooperation in the industrial and cultural spheres as well as on research and education.
The visit is taking place just a few days after the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2014 would be awarded to India’s Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan’s Malala Yosufzai “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”.
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon accompanied President Mukherjee and Madame Mukherjee to the Palace Square, where they were received by the King, the Queen and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit.
The Palace Square was decorated with Indian and Norwegian flags. The King’s Guard military band played the national anthems of both countries, after which the President inspected the Guard.
Children waving Norwegian and Indian flags had come to watch the ceremony, and President Mukherjee took time to greet the children on his way into the Royal Palace to have official photographs taken in the Bird Room. Princess Astrid, Mrs Ferner joined the party for the photographs.
Wreath-laying ceremony at the national monument
King Harald accompanied President Mukherjee to Akershus Fortress where the president laid a wreath at the national monument commemorating the Norwegians who lost their lives in the Second World War. It is traditional for heads of state paying an official visit to Norway to lay a wreath at the monument.
The Storting and Oslo City Hall
President Mukherjee is heading a large delegation, including members of the Indian Parliament. The President and Madame Mukherjee visited the Storting, where they met with the President of the Storting, Olemic Thommessen. Afterwards, the King and Queen accompanied their guests to Oslo City Hall.
Mayor of Oslo Fabian Stang welcomed the guests to a guided tour of Oslo City Hall and a cultural performance in the Banquet hall.
The afternoon’s programme consisted of a visit to the Fram Museum. The museum houses the polar vessel Fram, and tells the story of the Norwegian polar explorers. The guests were received by Museum Director Geir Kløver, and provided with insights on the polar areas and climate change.
The Indian President also got to speak with scientists at the Indian research station in Ny Ålesund and Indian students at the University Centre at Svalbard via videolink during the visit.
This evening, the King and Queen are hosting a gala dinner at the Royal Palace in honour of the President of India and Madame Sharmistha Mukherjee. The Crown Prince, the Crown Princess and Princess Astrid, Mrs Ferner will also be present at the dinner, which will be attended by 193 guests.
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.