Commemorating war history in London
On Wednesday, His Royal Highness The Crown Prince attended the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Special Operations Executive and the 70th anniversary of the Special Forces Club in London.
Norway has a long history of close ties with England. As part of the events in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the Liberation, Crown Prince Haakon was in London on 25 February to honour the veterans for their service during World War II.
The programme began with a luncheon, during which the Crown Prince had the opportunity to meet the Norwegian veterans taking part in the commemoration:
- Joachim Rønneberg – a member of Kompani Linge (Norwegian Independent Company) and best known for leading the operation to destroy the Vemork heavy water production plant in Rjukan.
- August Rathke – head of the youth front of the Communist resistance movement in the Bergen area and later a member of Kompani Linge. He also served as editor of the illegal newspaper Fortroppen.
- Ragnar Leif Ulstein served with Kompani Linge during the landing at Reine in 1941. Beginning in autumn 1944, he led the build-up of the home forces in the Sogn district.
- Richard Zeiner-Henriksen was a member of Milorg, the main resistance movement in Norway, and of Kompani Linge. In the final years of the war he worked for the Special Operations Executive in the Rondane and Dovrefjell area.
- Erling Lorentzen – a member of Kompani Linge and regional head in Hallingdal from 1944.
Both Norway’s Ambassador to the UK Mona Juul and Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide gave speeches during the luncheon.
Special Operations Executive
The Special Operations Executive (SOE) was a secret British military unit, established on 19 July 1940, for the purpose of planning, leading and conducting underground activity and sabotage missions in occupied Allied countries.
The SOE Norwegian Section recruited its first Norwegian agents in autumn 1940, and at that time established a base on the Shetland islands for conducting operations in Norway.
Special Forces Club
The Special Forces Club (SFC) was founded in 1945 by men and women who had served in the SOE. The aim was to establish a permanent meeting place in London where the veterans could gather in pleasant surroundings.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Crown Prince visited the club building, where he was welcomed by chairman Roger Blundell and secretary Wally Vincent. Following a guided tour, the Crown Prince had the opportunity to meet guests and representatives of the SFC.
The gala dinner marking the anniversary took place in the Natural History Museum on Wednesday evening. Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark were also in attendance.
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.