Last time the small town of Askøy was visited by royals was in 1611. On Thursday, King Harald and Queen Sonja visited the people at Askøy for a very special reason. To conclude the county tour of Hordaland the royals visited Askøy and the people here who have faced serious problems over the past month.
Two weeks ago, Askøy municipality was hit by water pollution that has affected more than 2,000 people. In total, 16 children and 60 adults from Askøy have been hospitalized. So far, two people are believed to have died as a result of the pollution, a one-year-old child and a 72 year old woman.
“The Queen and I visit you under very special circumstances. Not having clean drinking water is one of the most serious issues we as individuals and as a community can experience. The crisis you have been through and experiencing now puts a whole society to the test”, King Harald told the people of Askøy.
The King and Queen wanted to know more about the water scandal, and had a 20-minute long and closed meeting with a person who was infected, as well as key people who have worked on the case for the past two weeks. Several local residents had come up to welcome the royal couple.
King Harald addressed the situation in his speech, saying: “We have followed what has happened on Askøy, and we feel with you. We can only imagine your insecurity and frustration. We understand your concerns and pain. We realize you hardly have time for our visit. We know how much work and worries lie behind. And that you have other very important things to do. Therefore, we thank you for being her at Askøy, together with you.”
Following the speech by the King, he and the queen travel on to more cheerful events. They went on to visit Herdla museum and Herdla fortress. Herdla is an island north of the municipality, known for its rich birdlife and a nature reserve that includes Herdlevalen and long pebble beaches. This was also something the royals had the opportunity to learn more about. The royal couple saw several exciting cultural features by local children and to conclude the visit the royals took time to become better acquainted with people and organizations on Askøy.