Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg revealed where King Harald celebrated his 80th birthday. This was first reported yesterday by Norwegian state television NRK. When King Harald on 21 February this year turned 80-years-old, the King was on a private holiday with his family in South Africa. It was, at this point, a well-kept secret where the King was, as the King wanted to celebrate his birthday privately without photographers and the media.
On the same day, Prime Minister Erna Solberg was at the Royal Palace in Oslo together with the President of Parliament to write their congratulations to the King. When the Prime Minister waited for Parliament’s president to write his greetings, she spoke to the King’s adjutant. In front of NRK and NTB’s photographers, the Prime Minister said, “So you did not join them in South Africa.”
The adjutant was surprised by the Prime Minister’s statement and said briefly “No” before looking at the press. NRK and NTB decided not to publish the information before the Norwegian Royal Family had returned to Norway. The fact that the Prime Minister revealed the information by accident was first published yesterday.
On questions from the press, the Prime Minister has said: “It was indecisive of me to reveal it. Most of what the King and I are talking about I do not tell anyone.” In connection with the annual Royal Family programme, King Harald said he did not know that the Prime Minister had revealed the information, but that it was all right.
While the Norwegian Royal Family were in Cape Town, King Harald took all of his grandchildren and went on a historic trip to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was locked up for 18 years. For King Harald, it was important that the holiday would give his grandchildren knowledge and memories, they could take with them.
King Harald had a personal relationship with Nelson Mandela. His Majesty has been on an official state visit to South Africa twice. His first state visit was during Mandela’s presidency. Mandela himself went on a state visit to Norway in 1999 and met the King several times during his stay in Norway.
Even though the King was on holiday, various celebrations were held in Norway this day without the King being present. At noon, a 21-gun salute was fired from the cannons at 11 fortresses in Norway. Later that day, the Royal Palace was opened to the public. In the Royal Protocol Room near the main entrance of the Palace, people could sign the protocol congratulating the King.
Long queues forced the Norwegian Royal Palace to extend its opening hours that day as there were many hundred who still stood in line to congratulate the King when the Royal Court had planned to close.