State Visit from South Africa
His Excellency Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, and First Lady of South Africa Mrs Tobeka Zuma began their State Visit to Norway today. Their Majesties The King and Queen received the president and his wife at a formal ceremony this morning.
The State Visit is taking place in Oslo on 31 August – 1 September.
Official welcoming ceremony
The President and First Lady were formally welcomed to Norway by King Harald and Queen Sonja at a traditional ceremony on the Palace Square. Their Royal Highnesses The Crown Prince and Crown Princess were also in attendance.
President Zuma and King Harald inspected the Kings Guard and the King and the presidential couple took the time to talk to some of the children who had come to watch the ceremony. Afterwards the King introduced the South African guests to representatives of official institutions in Norway.
Following the welcoming ceremony President Zuma attended a meeting with President of the Storting Dag Terje Andersen, after which the King and Queen held an official luncheon at the Royal Palace for their guests.
Laying of wreath and flowers
King Harald and Queen Sonja accompanied the presidential couple to Akershus Fortress. It is traditional for visiting heads of state to lay a wreath at the national monument at Akershus Fortress. President Zuma inspected the Kings Guard before laying a wreath in commemoration of the Norwegians who lost their lives in the Second World War.
The tour then continued on to Oslo Cathedral. President Zuma and his wife laid flowers on the steps of the cathedral in memory of the victims of the tragic events of 22 July.
Nobel Peace Center
This afternoon the King and Queen and the presidential couple visited the Nobel Peace Center. The excellent relations between Norway and South Africa have a firm foundation in the support given by Norway to the African National Congress (ANC) during the fight against apartheid. The visit to the Nobel Peace Center included a meeting with representatives of Norwegian anti-apartheid organisations.
Four South African citizens have received the Nobel Peace Prize, primarily for their efforts in the struggle against the apartheid regime. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President of the African National Congress Albert Lutuli in 1960, to Bishop Desmond Tutu in 1984, and in 1993 jointly to Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk.
There was also time to visit the current exhibition on explorer and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen. Nansen received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for his international efforts to help refugees in the wake of the First World War.
This evening the King and Queen are hosting a gala banquet for 225 guests at the Royal Palace in honour of President Zuma and the First Lady. Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Princess Astrid Mrs Ferner will also be in attendance.
The Kings speech at the banquet will be published soon after it has been delivered.
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.