State Visit to Portugal
On Tuesday 27 May the Royal Yacht Norge sailed from Cascais to Lisbon, where Their Majesties The King and Queen were officially received by the President of the Portuguese Republic, Mr Aníbal Cavaco Silva, and his wife, Mrs Maria Cavaco Silva, at the Torre de Belém.
The Torre de Belém (Tower of Belém) was built in the early 16th century as part of the defensive system guarding the entrance to the Tagus River and the Lisbon harbour. During the Age of the Great Discoveries, the great Portuguese mariners set sail from the area between the tower and the nearby Jerónimos Monastery.
After receiving military honours at the tower, The King and Queen together with President and Mrs Cavaco Silva visited Jerónimos Monastery, where King Harald placed a wreath on the tomb of Luís Vaz de Camões. Camões is considered to be Portugals greatest poet, and the date of his death, 10 June, is celebrated as Portugals National Day.
Both the Tower of Belém and the Jerónimos Monastery are included on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
After the wreath-laying ceremony, King Harald and President Cavaco Silva met for formal talks. The King and Queen also met with President of the Parliament, Mr Jaime Gama, when they visited the Portuguese Parliament.
Museu Nacional dos Coches
Queen Sonja and Mrs Maria Cavaco Silva toured the Museu Nacional dos Coches (National Coach Museum), one of the most popular museums in Lisbon. The museum building was constructed in the late 1700s as a riding arena, and lies adjacent to Belém Palace, which serves as the official residence of Portugals president. The collection comprises ceremonial vehicles from the 17th , 18th and 19th centuries.
Theatre at the Gulbenkian Modern Art Centre
Later in the day, The King and Queen attended a performance of the Norwegian theatre Det Åpne Teater in collaboration with Artistas Unidos in Lisbon at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundations Modern Art Centre. The two theatres have worked together for many years, and the fruits of their efforts were presented in a series of vignettes from Norwegian and Portuguese contemporary theatre. One of the vignettes depicted the history from the start of the Carnation Revolution on 25 April 1974 through the situation today, interspersed with Ibsens thoughts about freedom.
The first day of the State Visit concluded with a banquet hosted by the President of the Republic and his wife at the Ajuda National Palace.
The King and Queen opened the new MUNCH
"I think that I speak for all of us when I say that we have been looking forward to this day! It is finally possible for us to gather together, and soon the great doors will open up a new attraction – not just for our capital city, but for Norway, and for the world," said His Majesty The King.
Congratulations from His Majesty King Harald to His Excellency Mr Alar Karis, President of the Republic of Estonia.