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King Harald and Queen Sonja on their way to China

King Harald and Queen Sonja are on their way to China, announced yesterday by the Norwegian Royal Court. The King and Queen are travelling to China for a state visit which will begin on 11 October and continue until 19 October. The royals are visiting China following an invitation from the People’s Republic of China’s President, Xi Jinping

The Royal Court stated that the state visit would begin in the city of Dunhuang in the Gansu Province, in West China. The programme there will consist of renewable energy, visits to a kindergarten and the opening of a Norwegian-Chinese seminar on education for sustainability. Conservation of cultural heritage will be the theme when King Harald and Queen Sonja are visiting the Mogao Caves.

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The royal couple will then continue to Beijing for the official marking of the state visit, including a conversation with President Xi Jinping and the signing of bilateral agreements. The Beijing programme will further include a book launch of Edvard Munch’s combined works in Chinese, highlighting winter sports cooperation, the opening of the Norwegian-Chinese social science symposium, and a great friendship dinner with Norwegian and Chinese cultural events.

The state visit ends in Shanghai, where sustainable seas will be an overall theme for the political meetings with industry, academia and other organisations. In addition, there will be a meeting with local authorities and representatives from the Norwegian colony. The royal couple will eventually visit United World College in Changshu, in Jiangsu province northwest of Shanghai.

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Their Majesties are accompanied by Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide and Minister of Industry Torbjørn Røe Isaksen, as well as State Secretaries from the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, the Ministry of Climate and Environment, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health. A record-large business delegation with around 310 participants from culture, sports, research and higher education will also accompany Harald and Sonja during the visit.

The royals have already left Norway to travel to China as a way to get used to the new time zone and have a small holiday before the extended state visit begins. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon is, therefore, proclaimed temporary monarch of Norway. Tomorrow, he will perform the weekly Council of State alone, as he will the next week while his father is in the Far East.

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The state visit was announced in April of last year when Prime Minister Erna Solberg met with the Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing. The Norwegian Royal Court indicated then that the fall of 2018 would fit in the schedule for King Harald and Queen Sonja to make the journey.

In his greeting on the King’s 80th birthday in February 2017, the President of China wrote, “Welcome to China.” King Harald and Queen Sonja were on a state visit to China in 1997, and the last time a Chinese president was on a state visit to Norway was in 1996. In 2008, King Harald and Queen Sonja were in China during the Olympic Games to support the Norwegian athletes.

Stay tuned, as Royal Central will give you all the latest on the state visit.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.