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10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 22 July 2011

Speech by His Majesty The King on the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Government Office Complex and on Utøya island - given in Oslo Spektrum Arena 22 July 2021.

Survivors and family members
Prime Minister,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Ten years have passed since the day darkness fell on Norway. Shock, grief and anger swept over us all. Shock that this could happen here in our country. Grief over the lives lost and destroyed. Anger at the forces behind the actions.

Everyone in Norway mourned together – for a time. But gradually, those who had suffered the greatest blow were once again left to bear their sorrows alone.

Grief and anger both still resonate in our country. Throughout Norway, from north to south, there are mothers and fathers who hold a teenage child in their hearts forever. Siblings who will always be lacking a brother or a sister. People missing a mother or father, a sweetheart, a friend or a colleague.

Ten years have passed since darkness fell on Norway. But many people are bringing back the light.

I marvel at the stuff many of those who survived that day are made of. So many of them are committed to working together with young people across our entire country to make Norway a good place to live for everyone.

They show us that light wins over darkness. People who lost so much – both in the Government Office Complex and on Utøya – have managed slowly but surely to find meaning and joy in life once again, in spite of it all. They demonstrate the unknown reserves of strength inside each and every one of us. And the memories of all those whom we have lost continue to shine brightly.    

Certain dates become cemented as part of the national narrative that defines us. These are days that, in different ways, have made us who we are. Which is why it is essential to learn about them and to learn from them.

As a nation, we have a shared duty to teach new generations what we have learned from 22 July. We owe it to all those who were killed, to their families, to everyone whose lives were directly affected – and to ourselves. To make us better people, a wiser nation, and to create a better Norway for those who come after us.

On 22 July 2011, two politically motivated terrorist attacks were directed at the government, the Labour Party and the Workers’ Youth League (AUF). But these attacks hit much deeper and wider. They affected all of us because they attacked what we have built up together over generations:

A government by the people where each of us is safe to work for what we believe in – and not risk being killed for our beliefs.Our country is built on the premise that all people are of equal value. It is built on freedom of expression. It is built on our ability to acknowledge differences of opinion and seek solutions through compromise.

The foundation of our country did not change after 22 July 2011. Norway remains firmly planted in the same bedrock.

But the lessons we must learn from that day, and which have cost us dearly, must be:
We must stand up for equality and human rights.
We must respect our differences.
We must fight for what we believe in – using peaceful means.

It is my hope that we can help each other incorporate the learning from 22 July into everything we do, everything that we are, every single day.

At the same time, we must acknowledge that we as a society have not done nearly enough to understand, to help, to carry the burden together – and to counter the forces of darkness.
That makes me very sad.

Still, I have a lot of faith in the Norwegian people, for we have proven time and again, in so many difficult situations, how much we can achieve when we stand united in protecting our fundamental values. Which is why I repeat today what I said 10 years ago:

I firmly believe that freedom is stronger than fear.
I firmly believe in an open Norwegian democracy and society.
I firmly believe that we will uphold our ability to live freely and securely in our own country.

And today – 10 years on, I would like to add the following:

I know that time does not heal all wounds.
I mourn all the lives that were lost, and I grieve alongside all those who were injured.
At the same time we should truly be thankful for the many people who are working to build an inclusive society for us all.

Even as we mark the 10th anniversary of one of the darkest days in our history, all the people bringing back the light fill us with hope.


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King Harald speaks in Oslo Spektrum. Photo: NRK