His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway started their four-day visit to the three Baltic States today. As announced earlier this year by the Norwegian Royal Court, Their Royal Highnesses are travelling to the Baltic states to participate in the nations’ celebrations of their 100 year anniversary of independence from Russia.
The first day of the visit was in Latvia. The day was started when the Crown Prince and Crown Princess were formally welcomed to Latvia by President Raimonds Vējonis and Mrs Iveta Vējone outside the Presidential Palace at Riga Castle. Following the ceremony, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit met the President for talks. The talks continued in a meeting between representatives of the Norwegian and Latvian delegations.
Following the talk,s the Crown Prince and Crown Princess went on to place flowers at the Latvian Liberty Monument. After laying down flowers, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess took time to greet and talk to the many Norwegian students studying in Latvia. A large delegation of Norwegian students had met at the monument and brought with them Norwegian flags and thought it was incredibly nice that the Crown Prince and Crown Princess visited Latvia.
The Crown Prince then participated in a lunch at the Norwegian Latvian Nutrition Forum. The Crown Princess then joined her husband when they visited the National Library. The celebrations in Riga were concluded Monday evening when the royals were the President’s guests at an official dinner in the Presidential Palace.
During the lunch, His Royal Highness said: “The Crown Princess and I have been very much looking forward to our first official visit to Latvia. Our countries share a long history of strong bilateral relations and the cooperation today is as extensive and comprehensive as ever. In business, research, culture, defence and the justice sector – just to mention a few.”
The royal visit has attracted great attention in Latvian media and all the major newspapers and TV channels have covered the events. Also, Norwegian and diverse foreign-language media have had broad coverage of the visit, which is said to link the Baltic states even closer to Norway. “This meeting symbolises Latvia’s and Norway’s intimate friendships and good relationships, and is regarded as a special deemed an honour of our country”, said President Vējonis on the arrival of the Norwegian royals.
“There are many opportunities for our two countries to develop our business relations further. We are close allies and partners – as proven through our history, and reflected in longstanding friendships and common interests”, said Crown Prince Haakon during his visit to Riga.
Tomorrow the Crown Prince and Crown Princess will visit Lithuania before they will spend the remaining two days in Estonia. Norway has, in the last decades, had close ties with all the three Baltics states, both commercially and security-wise through NATO.
Since regaining their independence, the Baltic states have grown close to Norway in a number of ways, and this visit is not the first state visit between them. King Harald V and Queen Sonja visited the Baltic states, for example, some twenty years ago, and in the intervening years, several presidents of the individual countries have been welcomed in Oslo.