His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon will be accompanied by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway to perform a visit to the United Kingdom this month. The trip will take place from 16 June to 17 June. Their Royal Highnesses will attend the St Magnus Festival 2017 at the Orkney Islands in Scotland.
The visit will commemorate the 900th anniversary of St Magnus’s death in 2017. This will be celebrated to mark the historical and enduring ties between Norway and the Orkney Islands. 2017 is the 40th year of St Magnus International Festival – Orkney’s largest and oldest festival.
Among other things, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess will attend 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 will be performed by the Trondheim Soloists and the BBC Singers.
The Orkney Islands are taking this opportunity to celebrate their strong relationship with Norway, and this year’s St Magnus Festival sees a strong Norwegian presence with concerts with the Norwegian Radio Orchestra (KORK), the Trondheim Soloists and Bergen Cathedral Choir as well as workshops with the celebrity Norwegian knitters Arne and Carlos.
In addition to attending the festival, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess will visit the ancient settlement 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 will also lay 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 May 17th each year and receive Christmas trees from Norway every Christmas.
Of particular importance to the history of Orkney is the saga of Magnus Orknøyjarl who, in a battle against his cousin Håkon Pålsson, died in 1117 and subsequently named a saint by the Catholic Church. He is the only Norwegian saint with papal recognition, and his memory is still very clear in the magnificent St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, commenced by his nephew in 1137. The cathedral acts as the main stage during the festival and is one of Orkney’s most famous tourist destinations.