Dog sledding in Bolterdalen
Today the Crown Prince and Crown Princess drove a dog sled team across the magnificent landscape of Svalbard. But the first item on the programme was a meeting with children and young people in Longyearbyen.
Their Royal Highnesses The Crown Prince and Crown Princess started the day at Polarflokken Kindergarten. Polarflokken is designed for Svalbard’s climate, with a play area sheltered from weather and wind, and the Crown Prince and Crown Princess met people of all ages out in the playground.
The Crown Prince and Crown Princess visited Polarflokken Kindergarten. Photo: Simen Sund, The Royal Court
Polarflokken has a large outdoor area with a sledding hill, grill hut and play equipment. A sports hall, ski trail and ice rink are close by, so there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor play and fun.
Visit to Longyearbyen School
A five-minute walk from Polarflokken brought the Crown Prince and Crown Princess to Longyearbyen School, which is attended by pupils at primary, lower and upper secondary levels. It may be the world’s northernmost school.
The Crown Prince and Crown Princess joined in some of the classroom instruction before heading to the outdoor equipment storeroom, which contains gear used in teaching and gear that pupils can borrow for private recreational use.
About 170 pupils gathered with the Crown Prince and Crown Princess to see performances in the school’s assembly hall. Youngsters from all levels of the school contributed. Photo: Sara Svanemyr, The Royal Court
The Crown Prince and Crown Princess enjoyed a lunch of fish soup before setting off for scenic Bolterdalen. They wanted to meet a family that is living there and to experience a little of what Svalbard has to offer tourists, who are now starting to return after the pandemic.
Dog sled trip in Bolterdalen
In Bolterdalen, a valley east of Longyearbyen, the Jordbrudal family operates a husky kennel and provides dog sledding trips for adventurous nature lovers. The kennel houses 45 dogs, including veterans of the Iditarod and Finnmarksløpet races.
The kennel is relatively small. According to Tommy Jordbrudal, it is important to have time to care for each dog. Photo: Sara Svanemyr, The Royal Court
The family that the Crown Prince and Crown Princess met put down roots in Svalbard 15 years ago. Tommy Jordbrudal is an avid dog sledder, as are Tiril (10) and Gaute (12). Tiril was not yet 3 when she took part in her first sled dog race, and she is the youngest musher ever to compete in the Junior North American Championship. Gaute was just 4½ years old when he became the North American junior dog sledding champion.
The Arctic Husky Travellers kennel has 45 dogs. Photo: Sara Svanemyr, The Royal Court
After the dogs were harnessed the Crown Prince and Crown Princess went sledding across Bolterdalen behind their dog team. Leading the way was Foxi. Foxi was born the runt of the litter, but proved herself Jordbrudal’s best dog ever when she ended up at the front of the team during the world’s toughest dog race, Iditarod.
The Crown Prince and Crown Princess drove a dog team on a visit to Arctic Husky Travellers outside Longyearbyen. Photo: Ole Berg-Rusten / NTB
In the evening, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit hosted a reception for some 60 guests at the Svalbard Museum. Guests included individuals the Crown Prince and Crown Princess had met during their visit and many others who helped to organise the many activities they have experienced during their time in Svalbard.
The Crown Prince and Crown Princess delivered a joint speech to welcome their guests.
“Haakon and I are very, very grateful to be back in Longyearbyen once again,” said the Crown Princess. “I think you who live here know how much the Royal Family enjoys visiting Svalbard. What strikes us each time we come is that this is a very special meeting place – even if it’s a bit off the beaten track.”
The Crown Princess highlighted Longyearbyen’s diversity and international character. Crown Prince Haakon pointed out that Svalbard is one of the places on earth where the effects of climate change are most apparent:
“In Svalbard, we see with extra clarity the fundamental challenges of our time: the melting ice, the threatened species, the changing climate. This is nature at its harshest, and at the same time its most vulnerable.
With dog team in Bolterdalen. Photo: Ole Berg-Rusten / NTB
This issue will be part of the backdrop for the programme tomorrow, when the Crown Prince and Crown Princess pay a visit to the Svalbard Satellite Station and meet with students and researchers at University Centre in Svalbard. Crown Prince Haakon will also visit Gruve 7, Norway’s last coal mine.
- Svalbard is an Arctic Ocean archipelago whose largest and most important island is Spitsbergen.
- Spitsbergen was discovered by the Dutch seafarer Willem Barentsz (usually anglicised as Barents) in 1596, but Icelandic records from the 12th and 13th centuries also likely refer to the islands.
- The name Svalbard is a combination of the words sval (cool) and bard (edge).
- Norway was granted sovereignty over the archipelago in 1920 under the Svalbard Treaty, which entered into force in 1925. All of the treaty’s 44 signatory countries have equal rights to conduct economic activity in Svalbard, but only Norway and Russia have had substantial business and settlement activities there.
- Main industries: mining (coal), research/education and tourism.
- Area: 61 022 km2 (compared to 323 808 km2 for mainland Norway).
- Population 2021: 2 940.
- Administrative centre: Longyearbyen.
- Svalbard is administered by the Governor, whose authority is on a par with that of a Norwegian county governor.
Official visits to Svalbard
Members of the Royal Family have paid numerous visits to Svalbard. What follows is an overview of official visits under His Majesty King Harald:
- 1995: The King and Queen attend 70th anniversary commemoration of Norwegian sovereignty.
- 2000: The Crown Prince attends opening of the Norwegian Polar Institute’s atmospheric monitoring station in Ny Ålesund.
- 2006: The King and Queen celebrate Longyearbyen’s 100th anniversary.
- 2007: The Crown Princess presents International Community award to Longyearbyen.
- 2008: The Crown Prince takes part in a research expedition, accompanied by the heirs to the Danish and Swedish thrones.
- 2010: The Crown Prince attends Ny-Ålesund Symposium 2010.
- 2012: The King attends memorial service for the Kings Bay accident in 1962.
- 2013: The Queen opens graphics exhibition and attends opening of the Polarjazz Festival.
- 2015: The Queen opens exhibition at Kunsthall Svalbard art museum.
- 2015: The Crown Prince and Crown Princess visit research vessel Lance.
- 2016: The Queen meets victims of the 2015 avalanche.
- 2016: The Crown Prince attends Ny-Ålesund Symposium 2016.
- 2017: The Queen meets avalanche victims and opens Artica Svalbard Foundation.
The Royal Family has also paid a number of private visits to Svalbard.
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