It was on Sunday that Queen Sonja started her two-day long visit to France. Then she participated in the opening of a new French-Norwegian art exhibition.
On Monday, there was a time for celebrations. Then the Queen was the honorary guest in the celebration of the 100 year-jubilee for Norway and France cooperation related to education and research.
The Queen was received by France`s First Lady Brigitte Macron. Her Majesty The Queen participated in a session together with the Norwegian students. Queen Sonja also met former and current students for a conversation together with France’s First Lady and Norway’s ambassador to France, Rolf Einar Fife. Following the welcome-ceremony, the Queen unveiled a sculpture from Norway, made by the artist Espen Dietrichson. Then followed by a speech by Tone Svalbjørg, a third-year student in Rouen.
In the Queen’s presence, Norway and France entered into a new framework agreement for education, research, business and culture cooperation. The Queen was accompanied by the Minister of Research and Higher Education, Iselin Nybø, who signed the treaty on behalf of the Kingdom of Norway.
The 100th anniversary of the Norwegian-French education cooperation was held in Rouen in Normandy. The cooperation between Norway and France started at the end of World War I. Later, Norwegian secondary schools have also been established in Bayeux, in 1979, and Lyon in 1989.
The 1918 school agreement between Norway and France entered a broader political context after the war and was central to the development of the Norwegian-French relations. Although Norway was neutral during the war, Norwegian shipping secured crucial supplies to France and their allies. This was an important historical backdrop for the visit, which takes place just under two months before the mark of the end of World War I.
It was in 1918 that the first Norwegian students arrived at the high school in Lycée Pierre Corneille. The cooperation and establishment of a Norwegian school were seen as a peace-building measure at the end of World War I. The past hundred years, more than 1,000 Norwegian children have had the opportunity to take French high school in Rouen, Bayeux and Lyon.