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NorwayState & Ceremonial

King Harald, Queen Sonja & Crown Prince Haakon attend the State Opening of Parliament

Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja were joined by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon on Monday as they performed the State Opening of the Norwegian Parliament, Stortinget, in the country’s capital, Oslo. This was King Harald’s 26th State Opening he has presided over as King of Norway and was the 162nd time that the Norwegian parliament has officially opened.

Military forces from the Navy, Air Forces and ground defence, as well as the King’s Guard, take place at the parade-street, which runs between the Royal Palace and the Parliament in good time before the opening takes place. The streets are also decorated with Norwegian flags and thousands of spectators.

King Harald and Queen Sonja on their way to the opening of Parliament in 2016. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen

The King’s guard makes ready for the royals to leave the Royal Palace. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen.

The ceremony began once His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon arrived at Parliament where he was received by the Parliament’s representatives. After just a few minutes, the King and Queen’s motorcade came out of the royal palace. The motorcade whent slowly down the street of Karl Johan before reaching the parliament shortly after. All along the street you could heard people cheer and applaud the King and Queen. Many brought with them Norwegian flags as Their Majesties cheerily waved to the people.

You could see a clear difference between the cars used by the Norwegian Royals. The Crown Prince’s car is decorated with the Crown Prince’s flag, which is the King’s flag with a split. While The King’s car is decorated with a completely rectangular flag.

The royals arrive at the parliament and find their seats. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen / Royal Central.

The Norwegian government on the left. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen / Royal Central.

The King and Queen were also welcomed by parliamentary representatives before they entered the parliament building. Here they went through all the halls and into the Eidsvold’s Gallery before they end in 7th of June room. In the Eidsvold’s Gallery, there are portraits of all members of the Eidsvold Assembly, which wrote Norway’s constitution, which is the second oldest constitution in the world that is still in use. This room is often described as the most beautiful room in the whole Parliament. The 7th of June room is named after the date that Norway declared themselves as an independent kingdom from Sweden in 1905. It is also the day that King Haakon VII returned to Norway in 1945 after five years of exile in Britain as a result of World War II.

It is common practice that the King and Queen go side by side for official occasions. This does not apply during the State Opening of Parliament. Here, all focus is on The King and his power to open the Parliament. That is why the King goes alone after the welcome-committee from the parliament, while Queen Sonja goes side by side with her son, the Crown Prince. After Crown Prince Haakon and Queen Sonja followed the Royal Family’s military adjutants and the leadership of the royal court.

His Majesty The King reads his speech to the Parliament’s representatives. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen / Royal Central.

The main hall of the parliament changes significantly when The King opens the Parliament. At other times in the year, the hall consists of 169 chairs for the representatives in semicircle around a large podium, a smaller podium and two debate chairs. This is removed when The King attends Parliament and is replaced by the Norwegian throne, as well as two smaller chairs for the Queen and the Crown Prince. The Parliament’s president and the secretary have a separate desk in front of the King so that all chairs are facing His Majesty. Parliament’s president Olemic Thommesen arrived at the Chamber together with the secretary and declared that the meeting was legal. After this, a large delegation with officials who served as representatives of the police and the various departments arrived.

On Monday’s event, Parliament’s president Olemic Thommesen arrived at the Chamber together with the secretary and declared that the meeting was legal. After this, a large delegation of officials who served as representatives of the police and the various departments arrived.

The royals then arrived in the main hall of Parliament. What one could clearly see is that many of the Parliament-representatives were not dressed in black dress. Many of the representatives used their bunad, their traditional Norwegian celebration-dress, from the district they come from. The last arriving in the hall after the King, Queen and Crown Prince was the Norwegian government. When they arrived, the Norwegian Royal anthem was sung.

His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen / Royal Central.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg then went to His Majesty King and took over “the speech of the throne”. This is written by the Norwegian government, which contains briefly what the government wants to do in the year to come. After the King has read the speech, it is common tradition that the youngest member of the Norwegian government reads a brief statement and the state’s state of affairs. The President concluded the speech with the same words that has concluded the presidents speeches the last 162 years, and all the representatives said the same I choir with the president:

“God save The King and the fatherland.”

These words were followed by the first verse of Norway’s national anthem, ‘yes we love this country’. The King, the Queen and the Crown Prince then departed the hall followed by the government. When The King left parliament, this was announced with the royal fanfare and all members of parliament are required to sit in the main chamber of the parliament until His Majesty is no longer in the vicinity. This is a custom that stretches back for more than 100 years.

The parliament’s pressident receives the speech by His Majesty King. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen / Royal Central.

The Queen, the King and the Crown Prince. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen / Royal Central.

The State Opening of Parliament begins a process of many important political decisions for Norway. Prime Minister Erna Solberg will shortly announce her new government. It is also common that the Minister of Finance presents the new national budget within one week after The King has declared that Norway’s Parliament has a mandate to govern the country.

Crown Princess Mette Marit does not attend the State Opening. Nor does Princess Ingrid Alexandra, who once will become Norway’s Queen. This is a practice that has been changing over the years. King Olav was a widower for many years and only participated with his son when Parliament was opened. When King Olav died in 1991, King Harald wanted the Queen to attend the ceremony. Once in the future when Crown Prince Haakon becomes Norway’s King, then it is likely that Mette Marit will also attend the ceremony, the same will Princess Ingrid.



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.