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An ocean of possibilities

Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands are conducting a state visit to Norway. Today they travelled to Trondheim to learn more about the vast potential of the oceans and efforts to promote the transition to green energy.


Home of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and a number of other important research institutions, Trondheim is on the cutting edge in areas such as sustainable aquaculture and marine technology. Their Royal Highnesses The Crown Prince and Crown Princess accompanied the King and Queen of the Netherlands during their visit to Trondheim.

On the way to meetings with developers of maritime technology. In the background: RV Gunnerus. Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, The Royal Court

Healthy oceans are essential to the solution

Norway and the Netherlands both have a long history as seafaring nations, and the ocean has played a major role in the development of their societies. Today, both countries are deeply committed to promoting sustainable management of the oceans and the abundant resources they provide.

Crown Prince Haakon gave an introduction to the topic of sustainable oceans. He pointed out some of the many challenges the world faces, while at the same time emphasising the vast potential of healthy oceans:

  • A healthy ocean can play a critical role in feeding a growing global population;
  • It can supply the world with clean energy;
  • Fully 21 per cent of the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions needed can be achieved in the ocean.

Crown Prince Haakon gave an introduction to today's topic: sustainable oceans. Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, Det kongelige hoff

The first stop on the programme was SINTEF Ocean/NTNU Ocean for a presentation of some of their innovative projects. The meeting was held in the Powerhouse Brattørkaia – the world’s northernmost energy-positive building. In the course of its lifetime, this building will actually produce more energy than it consumes.

Food from the oceans

The world will have to think along new lines to feed what is projected to be nine billion people in 2050. The Norwegian Centre for Plankton Technology carries out research on food from the oceans. But the centre’s work does not focus on fish; instead, it studies how to cultivate and harvest organisms lower in the food chain, such as algae, plankton, seaweed and kelp.

In the laboratory of the Norwegian Centre for Plankton Technology the Royal company learned how algae, plankton, seaweed and kelp can become food for people and animals. Photo: Simen Løvberg Sund, The Royal Court

“Many believe that algae and plankton will be the ‘new oil’. Our goal is to build up a new biomarine industry in Norway. The oceans offer a wide range of opportunities, and Norway has a major advantage with its extended coastline,” said Gunvor Øie, Research Director at SINTEF Ocean. She was the host for the visit of the Royal party to the centre, which is a collaborative effort between NTNU and SINTEF.

Ships and drones

Autonomous ships and drones for data collection and monitoring of facilities is another R&D focus area. The King and Queen of the Netherlands and the Crown Prince and Crown Princess visited Maritime Robotics to hear more about the work in this field. On the way, they stopped at the NTNU research vessel R/V Gunnerus. The vessel conducts data collection for research in aquaculture and marine environments and is partially electrically propelled.

At Maritime Robotics the visitors heard about three exciting projects on the use of autonomous ships and on surveying and monitoring the seabed.

Luncheon at Stiftsgården

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit hosted an official luncheon at Stiftsgården, the Norwegian Royal Family’s official residence in Trondheim. The menu revolved around seafood, including wild halibut, monkfish and Norway lobster, all harvested from the Trondheim Fjord.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit gave a speech during the luncheon in Stiftsgården. Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, The Royal Court

Energy transition

How can we work together in the transition to clean energy and a green society? After the luncheon, King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess continued on to the university borough of Gløshaugen, where representatives of Norwegian and Dutch educational, research, political and industry institutions convened to discuss the energy transition, carbon capture and hydrogen.

Their Majesties had the opportunity to meet a number of students who presented various topics relevant to the ensuing panel debate.

To conclude the event, King Willem-Alexander, Queen Máxima, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess witnessed the signing of a Declaration of Intent on CCS negotiations between Norway and the Netherlands.

Consert in Nidaros Cathedral

The final stop on today’s programme was the Nidaros Cathedral, the world’s northernmost medieval cathedral. Bishop Olav Fykse Tveit gave the party a guided tour of the beautiful cathedral before they stopped at the Sámi Altar to light candles.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit lights a candle at the Sami altar in Nidaros Cathedral. Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, The Royal Court

The altar was inaugurated in 2017 as part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first national Sámi assembly. Today Their Majesties and Their Royal Highnesses listened to a brief concert with the Trondheim Vocal Ensemble, Gjermund Larsen, and Sámi vocal artists Niko Valkeapää and Ingá-Máret Gaup-Juuso. ​

The Royal party was treated to a short concert by the Sami altar i Nidaros Cathedral. Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, The Royal Court

The concert in Nidaros Cathedral concluded King Willem-Alexander’s and Queen Máxima’s state visit to Norway. This is the ninth state visit to be carried out between Norway and the Netherlands.


State visit from the Netherlands

This is not the first time King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima have paid a visit to Norway – but it is their first state visit.

King Willem-Alexander’s mother, Queen Beatrix, conducted state visits to Norway on two occasions, in 1986 and 2010.

Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands paid a state visit to Norway in 1953, as did Queen Wilhelmina in 1922. It was King Haakon who formally welcomed them on these visits.

Similarly, Norway has conducted four state visits to the Netherlands. The state visits reaffirm the close ties between the two countries.

King Haakon, Prince Harald, Crown Prince Olav and Princess Astrid wave farewell to Queen Juliana after her state visit in 1953. Photo: Jan Stage / NTB

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