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European RoyalsNorwayThe Netherlands

Norway and the Netherlands: the special friendship on show in past State Visits

King Harald, Crown Prince Haakon
Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, Det kongelige hoff

The King and Queen of the Netherlands will make a State Visit to Norway this November. Willem-Alexander and Maxima will be hosted by their friends, King Harald and Queen Sonja, for the three day event. Although it’s Willem-Alexander’s first State Visit to Norway since becoming King in 2013, it’s not the first time these two countries have shared these important moments. Here, Royal Central looks back at the State Visits that have solidified ties between Norway and the Netherlands.

King Harald’s State Visit to the Netherlands: 15-17 April 1996

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King Harald and Queen Sonja undertook a state visit to the Netherlands from 15-17 April 1996

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Though not much remains on either Royal Family’s website or in archival news articles, the state visit included the normal military pomp and cultural displays of the host country typical of a visit. 

Queen Beatrix’s State Visit to Norway: 1-3 June 2010

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Queen Beatrix paid her final state visit to Norway in June 2010, undertaking a three-day visit to the country. During her reign, she visited Norway several times with both King Olav and King Harald hosting her on tour.

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Her agenda included a welcome ceremony at the harbour in Oslo followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the National Monument at Akershus Castle. There were school visits, receptions, and official dinners, and the entire Norwegian Royal Family, including King Harald, Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit participated in events.

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At the state banquet, King Harald gave a speech that touched back on the historical ties between their countries…with a humourous look at how the bilateral relations used to be. He said: “The first Norwegian visits to the Netherlands, by our Viking ancestors, were not exactly undertaken in a spirit of negotiation. It was more a case of what we today would call ‘hit and run.’ But we Norwegians are quick to learn. Gradually we started trading in timber, fish and minerals, and in return we received consumer goods that seasoned Dutch merchants had acquired from near and far. This trade helped to improve living standards for many Norwegians. From the Netherlands came a huge range of new products, from exotic spices and Gouda cheese, to tulips and Dutch cabinets. In fact, Norwegians were first introduced to the concept of sleeping in bedlinen by Dutch traders.

After touching upon the cultural, military, and geo-political ties between their countries, King Harald toasted Queen Beatrix, “I hope that this visit will give Your Majesty some interesting, fresh impressions of Norway.”

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In a return speech, Queen Beatrix said: “Your Majesty, ‘The strongest man on earth,’ said Henrik Ibsen, ‘is he who stands most alone.’ The opposite is true of nations. Only collectively and in close cooperation will we be able to advance towards the future and face the major problems confronting the world. Norway is fully convinced of this and plays a unifying and inspiring role in the many international fora in which it is involved, thus earning respect on all sides.

“May I invite those present to join me in a toast to your health, Your Majesty, to that of Queen Sonja, and to the happy continuation of the friendship between our families and between the Norwegian and Dutch peoples.”

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Royal Central will bring you full coverage of the Dutch State Visit to Norway.

About author

Jess is the Senior Royal Reporter and Editorial Assistant at Royal Central. Her interest in royalty started in her teenage years, coinciding with The Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002 and grew from there. She specializes in the British Royal Family (with emphasis on the Cambridges) and the Danish Royal Family, and has provided royal commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the UK and Australia.