On Tuesday in Norway, Their Majesties, King Harald and Queen Sonja, and Princess Astrid, Mrs Ferner, commemorated the volunteer efforts of the elderly with an English-inspired traditional afternoon tea at the Royal Palace in Oslo.
During their visits around the country the Norwegian Royal Family has many opportunities to meet volunteers and see the importance of the effort the dedicate to local community projects and the people they benefit. As a way of saying thanks, King Harald and Queen Sonja have developed a tradition of hosting an afternoon tea for groups of elder volunteers to honour them and the work they do.
Guests at the palace were given a tour of rooms before being individually greeted by the royals in Lille Party Hall and escorted into the banquet hall for tea, sandwiches and cakes. Hailing from all across Norway, the guests present represented a wide variety of community involvement and volunteering efforts, including from the areas of social work, sport, cultural services and teaching. The one thing they all share in common, however, is the fact that they have stayed active in their later years and focused their energies on spending time contributing to the happiness and fulfilment of others.
King Harald opened the tea with a welcome speech before passing the floor to two guests, Kåre Haug (77) from Akershus and Oddveig Lauve (81) from Aust-Agder, who shared with the gathered company their experiences about volunteering and community involvement. Queen Sonja concluded the speeches and invited the guests to tuck in to the tea.
The popularity of afternoon tea in Norway is attributed mainly to King Harald’s grandmother, Queen Maud, who was English-born, but the tradition of tea in the afternoon has roots dating back to the 1800s when the Duchess of Bedford was said to have instituted a (then secret) afternoon meal of tea, bread and cake to tide her over until dinner in the late evening. It is still an occasion for enjoyment with friends and family across the country.