Splendid jubilee celebration
Several thousand people took part in celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ascension to the Norwegian throne of Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja today.
The King and Queen themselves also participated in several of the activities in the Palace Square. The day’s programme began with a church service in the Palace Chapel.
Service in the Palace Chapel
Her Majesty Queen Margrethe of Denmark and Their Majesties King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden were the King and Queen’s guests during the jubilee celebration and were in attendance at the service in the Palace Chapel. Also present were the members of the Royal Family and representatives of official institutions in Norway.
The service was led by Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien of the Church of Norway, with the assistance of University Chaplin Bjørn Eirik Bjerkreim-Bentzen. Singers from the Oslo Cathedral Choir and trumpeter Ole Edvard Antonsen performed during the service. Her Highness Princess Märtha Louise gave one of the three scripture readings.
Winter activities in the Palace Square
At the same time, the celebration in the Palace Square began with a wide range of winter activities for children and young people. This was the kind of celebration that King Harald and Queen Sonja had asked for, and the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports rose to the challenge. The event featured cross-country ski trails, hills for snowboarding and ski jumping, an ice slide and areas for ski play. It was also possible to try biathlon with laser rifles.
After the church service, the Royal Family came out to the Palace Square to greet some of the several thousand celebrants gathered there and to sample the activities themselves. Her Majesty The Queen donned her cross-country skis and tested the ski trails in the park, together with Their Royal Highnesses The Crown Prince and Crown Princess and Her Royal Highness Princess Ingrid Alexandra. The Crown Prince and Crown Princess and their family tried the ice slide and biathlon with laser rifles as well.
Prince carried the Youth Olympic flame
The Lillehammer 2016 Youth Olympic Games are opening in February, and as part of the celebration the Youth Olympic flame was carried across the Palace Square. His Highness Prince Sverre Magnus had the honour of bearing the torch, with assistance from Olympic gold medalists Bjørn Dæhlie and Tora Berger, and Sajandan Rutthira, who was recently awarded this year’s changemaker award at Norway’s annual Sports Gala in Lillehammer.
The King and Queen expressed their thanks
When talking with the press in the Palace Square, King Harald took the opportunity to thank the Government, the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports, and the myriad of volunteers for organising a fabulous event.
Stage show and activities at University Square
Alongside the winter games in the Palace Square, there was a stage show with large screens at University Square. There was a wide range of activities, both on stage and in the many tents surrounding University Square. Children could draw pictures and make their own crowns or listen to storytelling. There was also a wall with a picture of the Great Hall in the Royal Palace to use as a backdrop for personal photos.
Many people took the opportunity to write a message to the King and Queen in the large book of congratulations stationed at the square. Norway Post’s jubilee post office was also very popular, and the public could send cards with a special anniversary postmark and stamps. There was figure skating for children in the Spikersuppa ice skating rink, and a variety of food stalls flanked Karl Johans gate.
Gala performance in the Aula
In the afternoon, the second part of the Government’s gift took place: a gala performance in the Aula of the University of Oslo. The King and Queen, accompanied by the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and their family, walked through the crowds from the Palace Square to the Aula, where they were greeted by Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
The performance was aired later in the evening on the television channel NRK 1. The event was hosted by Espen Beranek Holm and Lena Kristin Ellingsen and featured a wide array of Norwegian artists.
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.