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Norwegian royals visit Svalbard

The summer holiday for the Norwegian Royal Family is now almost over. Last week King Harald, Queen Sonja and Princess Astrid attended the funeral of former minister for foreign affairs Thorvald Stoltenberg. Following the funeral, large parts of the Norwegian Royal Family went on a week-long holiday on the Norwegian royal yacht “KS Norge”.

At the end of their royal cruise, Their Majesties The King and Queen, together with Their Royal Highnesses the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, and Princess Märtha Louise, officially visited two locations on Svalbard. They first visited the University Centre (UNIS) on Svalbard.

The University Centre in Svalbard is a Norwegian state-owned company that is involved in research and provides some university-level education in Arctic studies. The company is wholly owned by the Ministry of Education and Research, and the universities of Oslo, Bergen, Tromsø, NTNU and NMBU appoint the board of directors. The centre is the world’s northernmost research and higher education institution, in Longyearbyen at 78° N latitude. The courses offered fall into four main science disciplines: Arctic biology, Arctic geology, Arctic geophysics and Arctic technology.

The Norwegian royal yacht “Norge” while the ship is in the Oslofjorden. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen.

Following the visit to the University Centre, the royals went on to visit Svalbard museum. Svalbard Museum was founded in 1979 and is a natural and cultural history museum for Svalbard and the Arctic. The museum’s collections consist of artefacts, photographs, archival art, art and books and over 40,000 objects.

It was King Harald and Queen Sonja opened the new Svalbard Museum in 2006. After this, they have regularly visited the museum and shown a great interest in the nature and history associated with the archipelago. This time, the royals saw an exhibition focusing on whaling from Norwegian and Russian fishermen who had their base on Svalbard. There was also time to look at the exhibition about the Russian ballerina Maya Mikhailovna Plisetskaya who grew up in the Russian colony on the island.

The summer holiday of the Norwegian royals officially ends today when King Harald and Crown Prince Haakon conduct their first regular post-summer meetings with the government during the Council of State.

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