King Harald, Queen Sonja and Crown Prince Haakon all took part in the annual opening of Parliament ceremony, which marks the end of the summer recess and the beginning of a new legislative season.
On 3 October, Their Majesties and His Royal Highness arrived at the Parliament building in an open car, as tradition dictates. The short piece of Karl Johans Gate (Oslo’s main street) that leads from the Palace to the Parliament was full of Norwegian flags, as well as soldiers in parade and members of the public.
Upon their arrival, the royals were welcomed by a representation of MPs, who led them inside, where they sat on the thrones that had been specially prepared for them. King Harald and Crown Prince Haakon wore their full military uniforms, while Queen Sonja donned a black and white ensemble.
Storting President Masud Gharahkhani declared the session legal, one of his first acts as the head of the newly re-elected presidency. The process happened in a special session on Monday.
From the central throne, the King pronounced his speech; traditionally, it is written by the government in power, and it outlines the intentions of the executive for the upcoming year. This year, the government has vowed to start discussing proposals for the state budget as early as this Friday.
Interestingly, the throne used this year by King Harald does not belong in the same set as the ones used by Queen Sonja and Crown Prince Haakon. The main throne was put into use in 1866 upon the completion of the Storting building, whereas the two smaller ones seem to have been created in the early 1810s.
For this year’s opening session, Parliament restored the main throne in the set. It was previously stored at the Norwegian Folk Museum, and it is believed to be the chair used by then-Crown Prince Regent Carl Johan (later King Carl III Johan) as he gave the first Opening of Parliament speech, on behalf of his ageing predecessor, King Carl II, who was unable to attend the session on 10 November 1814.
After King Harald’s speech, it was Agriculture Minister Geir Pollestad’s turn to take the stand as he read the message about the state of the kingdom. In yet another tradition being honoured, Mr Pollestad is the youngest member of the government, and thus, the honour fell upon him.
However, the subsequent discussion about the two speeches was held up until King Harald left the building, as it is mandatory that the monarch not be present for any kind of parliamentary negotiation.
This is the Storting’s 168th session, and it comes at a crucial time, especially for the international context, with more aid for Ukraine probably being in the budget proposal.