- We hereby plant our beloved flag at the South Pole
The centennial anniversary of Roald Amundsen’s arrival at the South Pole was commemorated today. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon was in attendance at the festivities in the city of Tromsø, known as the gateway to the Arctic Ocean.
Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen were prominent public figures who contributed to building Norway’s national self-esteem and brought the country international recognition in the period after the dissolution of the union between Norway and Sweden. In his remarks at the Stortorget market square, Crown Prince Haakon emphasised the importance of the role they played:
“Amundsen and Nansen were the true heroes of a free Norway in the years after it gained its independence in 1905. Amundsen’s achievements helped to form our national identity and to carve out Norway’s position as a polar nation. We have good reason to celebrate today.”
The centennial celebration in Tromsø featured a tightly packed programme, with Crown Prince Haakon attending a number of events. First the Crown Prince visited Gyllenborg school, where he viewed a display of the schoolchildren’s works on polar history. Many schools have conducted polar history projects this year, a selection of which will be exhibited at Tromsø City Hall.
A photography exhibition depicting Tromsø as the Arctic capital and the point of departure for expeditions and other polar activities had been set up in Erling Bangsunds Square. There the Crown Prince viewed photographs illustrating segments of Arctic Ocean history that have been little known until now.
The Crown Prince also attended author Tor Bomann-Larsen’s informal lecture on Roald Amundsen and his achievements.
Helmer Hanssen was one of the four men who accompanied Amundsen to the South Pole point. Hanssen, who lived most of his adult life in Tromsø, was honoured with a monument that was unveiled outside Polaria, an Arctic-themed attraction centre housed at the Fram Centre. The work of sculptor Per Ung, the monument depicts Hanssen and his dogsled in bronze.
The polar parade departed from Polaria at 6:15 pm and arrived at Stortorget market square for the celebration’s main event.
Via satellite from the South Pole
A crowd was gathered at Stortorget, where the Crown Prince gave his speech before contact was made with the South Pole.
With the help of satellite transmission, the audience was able to see and hear Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Director of the Norwegian Polar Institute Jan-Gunnar Winther send their greetings and congratulations to Norway directly from the South Pole.
Winther is a participant of the Norwegian Polar Institute’s Centenary Expedition “South Pole 1911-2011”, which has followed Amundsen’s route to the South Pole point. The South Pole is in the same time zone as New Zealand so the centennial anniversary was commemorated earlier than in Norway, with the unveiling of a bust of Roald Amundsen carved in ice, among other things.
Amundsen vs. Nansen
After the festivities, Crown Prince Haakon attended a performance of the play Amundsen vs. Nansen at the Hålogaland Theatre. The two great men met only a few times. However, it is likely that their relationship became strained in the wake of Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole. Nansen had granted Amundsen the use of his polar vessel Fram. Amundsen needed both the ship and Nansen’s support to put together his planned expedition to the North Pole. However, once underway Amundsen changed course and headed for the South Pole, depriving Nansen of access to the promised research results from the North Pole and of the opportunity himself to be the first man to reach the world’s southernmost point.
The play dramatises an imagined meeting between the two men after Amundsen’s journey.
Written by Robert Marc Friedman and directed by Yngve Sundvor, the play features Hallvard Holmen and Gard B. Eidsvold as the two polar heroes.
Condolences from His Majesty King Harald to His Holiness Pope Francis.
Congratulations from His Majesty King Harald to the new President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, His Excellency Mr Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.