The Norwegian Royal Family hosted the annual Gala Dinner for Members of the Norwegian Parliament (Stortingsmiddag) at the Royal Palace of Oslo on October 26th. With King Harald V still recovering from Covid, the Gala Dinner was presided over by the Crown Prince Regent.
Crown Prince Haakon and Queen Sonja were followed by Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Princess Astrid, as they the processed through the Speilsalen, Small Dining Room, Small Ballroom, and the Great Ballroom into the Banqueting Hall, for the Stortingsmiddag Banquet.
Officials and the Crown Prince Regent gave speeches before dinner:
Unfortunately, His Majesty the King is still on sick leave. He contracted covid at the weekend, and is still not fully recovered. He had been looking forward to meeting you, and he has asked me to greet everyone here tonight. Nevertheless – the speech was written. The king has therefore asked me to read the speech to you. His speech, that is. Then we’ll see how it goes.
Now I begin:
We are considering starting with artificial intelligence here at Slottet. They must have had that for quite a while, some might think. Finally! some would possibly say – it was about time. I guess we can all use a little help on the intelligence front, now and then.
But tonight, since both guests and food are of the natural kind, I think it’s just as well that we just be ourselves and use our old-fashioned heads.
The Queen and I warmly welcome you all to dinner here at the Palace, and to a hopefully pleasant break in a busy autumn session.
As far as we have been able to count, this is the 105th time we have invited to this dinner. Fortunately, it is not just the Queen and I who have invited – it was King Haakon who started this good tradition already in 1906.
The local elections have been postponed, and all over Norway the political cabals for the next few years have been laid. Many people have been given new, important tasks of trust in their municipality. When we in the Royal Family visit small and large places in our country, we are often struck by the enthusiasm and love the local politicians show for their town or village. We must take good care of this very basic, often voluntary work that union representatives across the country put in for the community. It is the bedrock of our people’s government.
We can easily become somewhat pessimistic if we look around a bit. We live in a troubled world. There is war in Europe, and the human suffering in the Middle East is difficult to understand. The climate crisis is becoming more and more visible all over the world – also in this country.
At the same time, democracy as a form of government is weakening in an increasing number of countries. Our basic principles — such as the separation of powers, the rule of law, free elections, human rights and an independent press — yes, they are on the retreat in many places.
We know that some of you have had it extra tough lately. When the wind is at its worst, it can be useful to reflect on all the good you are capable of, capable of and actually achieve. As individuals, and in the community in our legislative assembly.
We are lucky in this country, which has a vibrant people’s government – where the systems work and where the democratic rights are in place. Much of this is due to you, our national elected officials. The great work you do, on behalf of all of us, is more important than ever.
– So far this is going pretty well, isn’t it? The king goes on to say:
The Crown Prince couple marked their 50th anniversary this summer, after trying to deny it for as long as they could. There is no reason for that. I would like to think that several of us here tonight know the many advantages of going on the years: We remember a little worse and hear what we want to hear. Some would call this a disadvantage. V i others know that this can easily be turned into advantages – such as a reduced mane of hair means less time in front of the mirror. So here is just to be happy.
– Here there were a couple of things to address. The last thing with a reduced mane of hair – I don’t understand what he means there…
The Crown Prince couple marked their anniversaries here in the palace’s backyard – together with people from all over the country whom they have met during their many years as Crown Prince couple. It was a heartwarming celebration on a somewhat chilly late summer evening.
A little older than the Crown Prince couple is the Nordic Council, which will hold its 75th session at the Storting next week, and which several of us will meet. Fortunately, Nordic cooperation is strong these days. In a troubled Europe, it is reassuring to have good friends here in the north.
We in the Royal Family are also happy with our Nordic neighbours. We are also related to some of them. This year we have been to both Denmark and Sweden. Both visits were very successful, where we confirmed and strengthened our countries’ close ties.
I would have liked to have had an extra solid bond to hold on to – in Copenhagen, when I met the triplets, mine, Queen Margrethe. As some of you may have gathered, I went down kneeling on the red carpet for majesty.
If there is something to learn from the kneeling ? Not so much, I would think. I can still assure you that I still have a lot of admiration for the Storting – even if I manage to stay on my feet tonight.
– And now you must keep in mind that it is my father who is speaking:
Well over 64 years ago, I fell for the queen sitting here tonight. It took a few years before we were allowed to get married. Since then, many people have fought for important rights that may seem obvious in retrospect.
Some rights take unexpected detours, and one of the rarer ones comes in the form of a beautiful chair : The Queen and I want to thank the Storting for the valuable work that has been done in refurbishing the so-called consort chair — over 200 years after it was taken in use. The chair is recognition by our national assembly of the Queen’s role, and the act means a lot to us in the Royal Family
President of the Storting! I wish each individual representative the best of luck with all important tasks that must be carried out for the good of the country and people.
I raise the toast of the Storting and the fatherland!
Princess Astrid wore a yellow gown with the Ruby Aigrette Tiara, and the Sash & Star of the Order of St. Olav with Family Orders of King Haakon, King Olav, and King Harald.