State Visit from Poland
His Excellency the President of the Republic of Poland Mr Andrzej Duda and First Lady Mrs Agata Kornhauser-Duda began their State Visit to Norway today.
Their Majesties The King and Queen welcomed the President and First Lady to Norway in a formal ceremony at the Palace Square.
Poland and Norway cooperate in a number of areas, and Poland is one of Norway’s ten most important trading partners. More than 100 000 Polish citizens live in Norway on a permanent basis, and close to the same number stay in Norway for shorter periods of time. Well over 300 000 Norwegians visited Poland in 2015, and a growing number of Polish tourists travel to Norway. There is a lot of friendly competition in the field of sport, especially in the skiing contests, and Polish ski jumpers are popular participants in Holmenkollen.
This is the third time that a Polish president and his wife have conducted a State Visit to Norway. King Harald and Queen Sonja have also conducted State Visits to Poland on two occasions. The visit which began today will help to further strengthen the close ties between the two countries.
The visit began with a formal ceremony at the Palace Square this morning. The national anthems of both countries were sung, and then President Duda inspected a guard of honour from His Majesty The King’s Guard, accompanied by King Harald. The President and First Lady were introduced to representatives of official institutions in Norway, and took time to greet the children bearing Norwegian and Polish flags who had come to see the ceremony. Inside the Royal Palace, official photographs were taken in the Bird Room, which was followed by an exchange of gifts.
Following the welcoming ceremony, King Harald accompanied President Duda to Akershus Fortress. Queen Sonja and Mrs Kornhauser-Duda were also in attendance when the President laid a wreath at the national monument commemorating the Norwegians who lost their lives in the Second World War.
Polish troops and marine vessels took part in the battles for Narvik in May 1940. Ninety-seven Polish soldiers lost their lives in the fighting. This was the first defeat for Nazi Germany during the war, and the event will be commemorated on the final day of the State Visit.
President Duda went from Akershus Fortress to meetings with the President of the Storting and Prime Minister Erna Solberg.
Queen Sonja accompanied Mrs Kornhauser-Duda to the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design where they viewed the most notable paintings in the collection, including a version of “The Scream” by Edvard Munch. From there they continued on to Oscarshall Summer Palace on the Bygdøy peninsula.
Queen Sonja herself was able take the role of tour guide at Oscarshall. This year’s exhibition at the Queen Joséphine Gallery is entitled Smakebiter, which displays a selection from Queen Sonja’s collection of glass art objects.
A gala dinner is being held this evening at the Royal Palace. King Harald and Queen Sonja are hosting the dinner in honour of the Polish President and First Lady. His Royal Highness The Crown Prince and Princess Astrid, Mrs Ferner will also attend the dinner.
The State Visit will continue tomorrow with a business seminar, a speech by the President and a demonstration by the Norwegian Air Force at Akershus Fortress. A luncheon will be hosted there by the Norwegian Government before the entourage travels to Bodø and later to Narvik, where the final day of the State Visit will take place.
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.