Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway completed their two-day trip to the Orkney Islands on Saturday. There are strong historical ties between Norway and the islands, which celebrates its St Magnus Festival this weekend.
During their visit, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess attended the Royal Gala Opening Concert with the world premiere of I, Pilgrim, by the Norwegian dramatist Jon Fosse and with music by the Scottish composer Alasdair Nicolson. The music was performed by the Trondheim Soloists and the BBC Singers.
In a speech, The Crown Prince said: “We are struck by the rough beauty of your islands. The history, the cultural heritage, the landscape and the sagas of The Orkney Islands make a deep impression on us and make us feel at home. There is like an invisible silver string is somehow spun between Orkney and Norway.”
In addition to attending the festival, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess also visited the ancient settlement of Skara, listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The settlement was discovered after a heavy storm in 1850 after being buried under the dunes on the west coast. The Crown Prince Couple also laid down flowers by the tombs of Norwegian sailors who died during the Second World War and are buried at St Olaf Cemetery on the outskirts of Kirkwall.
The Orkney Islands have long historical ties with Norway; they were populated by Norwegians in the late 700s and were annexed (together with the Shetland Islands) by King Harald Hårfagre in year 875. The islands remained under Norwegian rule until the 1400s. The Orkney Islands celebrate the Norwegian National Day on 17th May each year and receive Christmas trees from Norway every Christmas.
In a speech that the Crown Prince held during a lunch, he said: “The saga of St Magnus is an inspiration to acknowledge that we always have a choice: To use violence or to seek peaceful solutions. To put people or power first. To try to do the right thing even if it has a cost.”