King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway are currently in Italy on an official visit. They arrived in Rome on Tuesday afternoon and will travel to Milan on Thursday, before heading back to Norway on Friday.
The larger part of their stay in Italy will be spent on official engagements, but also a number of visits to promote Norwegian industry in Italy, including engagements to promote the Norwegian fashion industry and Norwegian craft and design businesses operating in Italy.
Upon arrival, the royal couple were officially welcomed to Italy by President Sergio Mattarella and his daughter Signora Laura outside Palazzo del Quirinale, the official residence of the President in Rome. President Mattarella is a widower, therefore his daughter usually acts as hostess on official occasions. Queen Sonja chose a cerise bouclé suit with matching pillbox hat for the first official engagements in Rome.
The King, who celebrates his Silver Jubilee this year, and the Queen will meet the Prime Minister and other officials, and will have a chance to do some sightseeing in Rome, including a visit to the Forum Romanum. A State banquet hosted by the Italian President and an official reception hosted by the Norwegian Ambassador will undoubtably provide a dose of evening glitz and glamour.
It is 15 years since the last Norwegian State visit to Italy, and back in 2001 the King did not make a secret of his enthusiasm for the country, people and culture, saying in his speech at a gala dinner: “We charmed by the informality and spontaneity, blended with style and elegance, which we find in the behavior of the Italian people. We are attracted by the joy that we feel around us and which makes a normally reserved northerner feel good”. Following the 2001 State visit, Queen Sonja came back to Rome in September 2009 to attend the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Norwegian Institute.