King Harald of Norway has delivered his annual New Year’s Eve address after a tragic Christmas Day where his former son-in-law, Ari Behn, committed suicide.
The King, who has recently been ill with a viral infection, was forced to sit during his speech instead of standing as he usually does each New Year’s Eve.
His Majesty began his speech discussing Ari Behn, “All over our country tonight, five million people sit with their unique lives. Some meet the new year with joy and optimism, others with want and turmoil. Several of us are entering the new year of sadness in our hearts. But hope belongs to all of us.
“My wish tonight is that hope must carry us all into the new year.
“We are strongly influenced by Ari Behn’s death this Christmas. It has been warm to experience people’s compassion and lit candles at the Palace Square. There is comfort in all the good memories and beautiful words that have been conveyed about the father of three of our dear grandchildren.
“Sometimes life is not to endure. For some, it gets so dark that nothing helps. Not even the love of their loved ones. Some see no other way than to leave life. Those who remain must live on. Poorer – without the one they loved.”
King Harald then spoke about the future, “We know so little about what is to come. The uncertainty makes us all vulnerable. The best thing we can do is be there for each other, see each other, remember to give each other the good words. And carry each other if needed.
“My thoughts tonight are especially with all those who go out of the old year with a sad void of someone they were happy with.”
The King spoke about trust and how Norwegian society is built on “a social order where everyone contributes to the ability of a community that will serve the good of the country and the people.”
Like his European counterparts, he touched on his country’s liberation in World War Two. He spoke of how Norway has grown and improved since its liberation 75 years ago. The King spoke of how Norwegians have embraced their differences to live together in harmony no matter their age, gender, culture, religion and orientation.
He added that Norway has been lucky over the past 75 years and stated, “We stand today on a foundation of all that we have built together – and that we must protect. For peace is fragile. Confidence is fragile. And life is fragile. We are constantly reminded of that.”
King Harald would later stress, “A society with the freedom to be different must build on the equal value of all people.”
His Majesty concluded with lessons Norwegians should carry with them as they celebrate the liberation: equality, transformation, and “hope of a good life for all.”