May 18 – Unveiling of the Statue of Christian Frederik

Pictures from May 18, when Queen Margrethe, King Harald and Queen Sonja came down to the parliament to unveil the statue of Christian Frederik.

Since I had not got good pictures of the royals the day before, I got a decent enough spot at this unveiling. At least enough to photograph the arrival.


Book review: Dronningen (100 things #5)

There is a new Norwegian book out, about Queen Sonja. Dronningen by Ingar Sletten Kolloen.

Already last week, the papers were filled with news from the book (some of which were definitely known before) her two miscarriages, that Mette-Marit served her potential mother-in-law pasta with canned tuna the first time they met, (the book specifies that both Haakon and Mette-Marit were serving the dinner) her sister’s suicide, and that the Queen mentions that she sometimes has trouble understanding her daughter’s alternative route.

It is a fairly hefty book, clocking in at over 500 pages. It is a beautifully designed book, and, although I could have wished for more glossy photos, the ones that are in it aren’t just photos that we’ve seen a thousand times before.

The book touches slightly on Sonja’s upbringing and her background, but the main focus is from the night she meets the Crown Prince at a party hosted by a mutual friend and up until today.

What I appreciate about this particular retelling of the story are the details; some details that haven’t been told before publicly, some have, perhaps, been held back in previous books about Sonja out of the respect of other persons, leads to a book that is more frank than both her previous biographies have been.

Her sister’s suicide (Queen Sonja: One always thinks one could have done more, should have seen more), her own miscarriage just weeks after… it must have been a really tough year.

The focus is more on her difficulties in finding her place in the organization, being a working mother, the differences between being born into the royal family vs. marrying into it,  and the role she now fulfils. She is also quite eager to leave an easy job for her successors, and most of her story as a Crown Princess and Queen seems to be also the stories of reforming the Norwegian court and making it into a corporation, where there are meetings with several people instead of just audiences for the King and he decides everything.

I also enjoyed hearing the stories about her grandchildren, and that first Christmas with Marius.

As a Norwegian, I also appreciate reading what goes on behind the scenes for the major events in promoting Norway abroad, and for the royal events such as the Silver Cruise.

I rather like that she isn’t painted with a perfect image, but that her flaws (too much perfectionist at times, didn’t have enough time for her children as they were growing up) also appears. The author had around 40 talks with the Queen in the preparation for the book, and he also talked to those close to her, and I think that thoroughness really shines through.

There are a couple of minor things here and there which made me stop up when I was reading it, such as naming Princess Alexandra of Berleburg #5 in the line to the Danish throne until she married (p. 353). As far as I know, (and feel free to help my understanding those who know better) there was a clause in her grandfather’s accept for Richard and Benedikte’s marriage – that the children should move to Denmark when they started school – and since neither of them did, none of them are in line to the Danish throne.

But, all in all, I find it a very well-written book, easy to read, despite the length (as long as you understand Norwegian) and I appreciate that new things about Sonja and her opinions are coming to light. If you don’t understand Norwegian, this is really not the book to get – the pictures don’t weigh up for the price if you can’t read any of the text.

20 years

Today it is 20 years since King Olav passed away, and his son took over.

Personally, I don’t remember much of that day at all – I was down for the count with stomach flu. Besides I was not very into royalty at all at the age of seven.

I do remember his funeral. We got the day off school because of it, and my mother insisted that since I had a day off because of the event, it was only fitting I watch said event on television. I remember it being way too long, people were dressed in black, and not much else.

I think it is safe to say my interest has increased a bit since then.

Review: Kongen som må ut og hente melk

From time to time, interesting picture books for children pop up on the Norwegian market. Some of the time the subject is the royal family. One such excellent book was Olavs første skitur by Tor Bomann-Larsen.

A new one in this category is Kongen som må ut å hente melk by Tora Marie Norberg. (Translation of title: The King who has to go get milk)

The essence of the story is that the King (who bears a fair likeness to King Harald) discover at the breakfast table that he does not have any milk left for his breakfast. So he goes to the royal farm at Bygdøy, only to have problems when he tries to milk the royal cows. It results in him having to go to the store to get the milk there instead.

It is a cute story, and the variety of the illustration, and words, make it a fun read. The play on words – starting the sentence on the page the Queen appears with the words Sånn Ja (the pronunciation of Sonja), and the details of the drawings makes it a fun read also for adults.

The story does require a certain amount of suspending reality, as  I don’t think it is very likely that the King cleans all the rooms in the Palace by himself before heading off for bed.

But it is a fun read, and definitely something I would consider reading for young children.

Seeking a team to support…

During the state visit to South Africa last week, King Harald, who is known to be an avid watcher of football, was asked which team he would support in the upcoming World Cup. The World cup will take place in South Africa next summer, and the logical choice for the King – Norway – did not manage to qualify for it.

“That is a good question,” the King replied before he concluded that he had not yet thought about it.

The king also clarified that he would be watching the championships from home and not make another journey to South Africa.

The latter will make for easier travel time to Stockholm to the wedding of his goddaughter, Victoria, which takes place around the same time as the group matches are played.

Queen Sonja visited a Norwegian Mosque

For the first time, Queen Sonja of Norway visited the newest Norwegian Mosque, to learn more about the religion and the culture. It was opened in February, 2009. It is also the location of the Islamic Cultural Centre Norway. The Queen wore a more conservative outfit than usual, covering her hair with a scarf.

In the middle of her visit, she opened the exhibition: “Islamic Exhibition 2009.” It is designed to inform the Norwegian population of Islam, and, hopefully, minimize misunderstandings that can arise between the two cultures.

Aftenposten has a video of the event. In her speech, she praised the women at the center and the network they have created. She said it was impressive to meet so many resourceful and engaged women, and urged them to keep going.

Name change.

There are things the King can help with, but mostly, he’s rather powerless. That was something a six-year-old boy discovered after he wrote a letter to King Harald.

The boy was not happy with his own name, and wanted to change it to Sonic X, after the Japanese anime of the same name.

His parents delayed sending the letter for a while, but their son wore them down. (As only six-year-olds can, I presume.)

The reply from the King was that he couldn’t help with the matter. The reason for that is that to change your name in Norway, you have to be above the age of 18. And there’s little the King can do against that.

Tea Party at the Palace

Today, Queen Sonja and Crown Princess Mette-Marit hosted a tea party at the Palace in Oslo. The guests were 15 immigrant women, from various organizations, and the occasion was the International Women’s Day, which was yesterday. It is the first time the Palace is hosting such a gathering. 

Continue reading “Tea Party at the Palace”

King Harald in Bergen

Today was the installation of Halvor Nordhaug as the new Bishop of Bjørgvin diocese. He is taking over from Ole D. Hagesæther, and is the 35th bishop in the history of the diocese, which goes back to the reformation. 


As the head of the Church of Norway, King Harald was present at the installation. A picture of the King and the newly ordained bishop walking out of Bergen cathedral can be seen here.