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Chilean-Norwegian friendship dinner

Welcoming speech given by Her Majesty The Queen at the Chilean-Norwegian dinner hosted by Their Majesties during their state visit to Chile 26-31 March 2019.

President Piñera,
Your Excellency Cecilia Morel,
Ladies and gentlemen.

The King and I are very grateful to have this opportunity to visit stunningly beautiful Chile – and for the warm and generous welcome you have given us.

Having enjoyed some wonderful and interesting days here in Santiago, we are fascinated by this modern, cosmopolitan city, set between towering mountains.

We have already spent magnificent days in the picturesque region of Los Lagos. Over the next few days, we will visit the southernmost part of Chile.

We are very much looking forward to continuing our travels – to the dreamlike Patagonia, and to Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams – the southernmost town in the world!

I am sure we will feel very much at home there, as I have been told the southern tip of your country is similar to the northern part of our country – where we find the northernmost town, Hammerfest on the mainland, and the northernmost habitat,  Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard, at a latitude of 79 degrees north!

Chile is known in Norway for its rich culture, poetry, and wines, as well as for its vastness. In some respects, Chile also reminds us of our homeland. You, too, have snow-capped mountains that nose-dive into the oceans and rivers. Like Norway, Chile is a country with abundant natural resources. You, too, have stories about how your ancestors fought daily battles with the harsh natural environment – and won!

In these images, our two nations come together:

We are both shaped by nature – but we are also both shaping nature. Our close relationship to the natural world is something we have in common. And tonight, we are in the very midst of it, surrounded by this spectacular scenery.

For me personally, closeness to nature is of vital importance. Walking, hiking, or just spending precious moments in beautiful or wild countryside gives me a sense of happiness.

It is when I am in the great outdoors that my thoughts can wander – and that I feel most alive. Ever since I was a young girl, I have enjoyed my trips to the countryside, to the mountains, to the sea or to the forests.

And I still do – tremendously!

This magnificent location has been chosen with care and purpose. As I am sure many of our Chilean friends are aware, it is called El Bótanico, and it feels right to quote Chile’s famous poet and Nobel Laureate, Pablo Neruda, who wrote:

"You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming."

One of Norway’s well-known poets, Henrik Wergeland, wrote:
"Do not complain beneath the stars about the lack of bright spots in your life."

I therefore feel certain we are in the right place tonight– between the earth and the sky, on the ground and under the stars. 

I would like to think that the reflections of our two poets were born out of similar feelings. Neruda expressed his deep faith in humanity and the inherent life force of the natural world he admired so much. Wergeland was full of confidence in what people can achieve – rooted in nature, committed and engaged.

The oceans have played a significant role in the history of our two countries. They have made communication, trade and cultural enrichment possible.

This was confirmed when the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his companions set sail on Kon-Tiki to prove theories that would change archaeology. Thor Heyerdahl once famously commented:

"Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people".

His expeditions and research also revealed to the world the mysteries of Rapa Nui, its art and the famous moai. They proved beyond doubt the role of the oceans in enabling cultures to meet-  

The King and I were lucky enough to visit Easter Island some years ago, and it made a deep impression on us. It is easy to understand what Heyerdahl said about borders – especially if you stand on the ridge of the water-filled crater of Rano Kau, enjoying the island’s most striking panoramic view: From the rim of the crater to the seemingly endless blue horizon of the Pacific Ocean! 

I would like to close by expressing my hope that our countries will be innovative and inventive in further developing our ties, and bold and forward-looking in our common ventures.

Regrettably, we know that our oceans are not in good health. Both Chile and Norway have made great efforts to ensure that the oceans are protected for generations to come.

I am pleased that both you, President Piñera, and Norway’s Prime Mister, Erna Solberg, are active members of the "High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy".

A lot remains to be done, but I am certain that – with persistence and hard work – we can all make a real difference for our oceans. This kind of cooperation gives me hope, and it is of vital importance to accomplish the "Sustainable Development Goals" – and build a better future for all.

And dear guests: This is of course what we all want – am I not right?

The King and I are both concerned about our planet. We have both been even further than the south of Chile – and seen how Antarctica is changing. Nevertheless, to be able to solve our climate challenges, we need to work together.

Therefore, I am confident that Norway and Chile will manage our resources in the best possible way, and further develop our friendship to the benefit of future generations.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends,
Nature is one of the main bonds between our two countries, between Chileans and Norwegians.

Music is another way of connecting people.

Tonight we have the pleasure of showing you exciting aspects of both Chilean and Norwegian culture. I am really looking forward to seeing and hearing – and showing you –this evenings’s young and talented artists from both countries!

In addition, dear guests – as a way of thanking you again for the kindness you have shown us, I would like to invite you to join me on a journey to my home country. You may have noticed the pictures rolling in "the background", and wonder what they are? Well, we have put together some of my private photos from my travels around Norway - especially from the North, from the West Coast and from Svalbard. They will be shown all through the evening, and I hope you will enjoy seeing the pictures – captured through my camera lens.

I can assure you that I have already taken quite a few pictures during this visit to Chile. And there will be more to come! 

A warm welcome to you all!
I hope we will have an enjoyable evening together.


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