Special visit from the United Kingdom: Speech
Your Royal Highnesses,
dear Charles and Camilla,
It is indeed a great pleasure for the Queen and I to welcome you to Norway. Your visit is part of the Diamond Jubilee celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – a celebration that not just the Queen and I, but also the entire Norwegian nation are pleased to take part in. United by our history and the North Sea, Britain and Norway are more than friends – we are family. Descendents of Norwegian immigrants are spread all over the British Isles, particularly in the northern parts. Many Brits have also found a new home in Norway over the years. And the royal families are closely linked as well – my grandmother Queen Maud was the sister of your great grandfather, King George V.
Queen Elizabeth’s achievements as monarch are remarkable. Throughout her long reign she has served the British people with unfailing devotion, dignity and distinction. Hers has indeed been a lifetime of exceptional service. As monarch and head of state, she has inspired respect and admiration not only in Britain but all over the world.
Queen Elizabeth succeeded to the throne just a few years after World War II. I believe no other event in history has had such a strong effect on the relationship between Norway and the UK as that war. My grandfather, King Haakon, led the Norwegian Government-in-exile in London from 1940 to 1945. His BBC broadcasts were eagerly followed here in Norway, and the resilience of the British people and forces kept spirits up all over our occupied country. The Shetland Bus, which linked the UK and Norway during the war, is an important chapter in this history. The friendships and relations established then are still very much alive today. Indeed, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg will open a museum in Scalloway, Shetland, on the history of the Shetland Bus on 17 May – our Constitution Day – this year, 70 years after the base was established there.
It is encouraging to see how the United Kingdom and Norway continue to develop our relations in so many fields. Our economic ties are close; energy and shipping are but mere examples in this respect. Norwegian writers are enjoying great success in Britain. Jo Nesbø, Per Petterson and Jon Fosse are but a few prominent examples. Later this year an exhibition of major works by Edvard Munch will be held at Tate Modern in London. This exhibition will coincide with the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London. We will follow these Games in your capital city with great interest.
British culture has always been a part of our lives in Norway. Your writers, artists, musicians and filmmakers are widely appreciated here. As are – I should add – your football teams and players. England and Norway have enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship when it comes to football. When Manchester United won the treble in 1999, it was a Norwegian, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, who was responsible for the crowning moment when he scored the decisive goal in overtime in the Champions League final. At times, many Norwegian players have sought their fortunes in the British Isles. One, whose name I won’t mention, said in an interview that he had discovered a very good beer in England – it was called “pint”.
Your Royal Highnesses,
The seas remain vital to both our countries. For many centuries, the North Sea has been a gateway between Norway and Britain. In the 1960s and 70s offshore production of oil and gas became a major factor in our economies and will remain so for years to come. Today we are finding new ways of harvesting resources from the sea. Offshore wind production is offering not just renewable energy, but also a basis for closer technology and business cooperation between Norway and the UK. One example of this is the Sheringham Shoal Wind Park off Norfolk to be opened later this year. The Norwegian companies Statoil and Statkraft have joined forces to establish a wind farm comprising 88 turbines and supplying clean energy to more than 200 000 homes. It is safe to say that relations between our countries are enduring, vibrant and ever expanding. I do hope that you will enjoy your stay in Norway; that the programme reflects your engagement for questions related to sustainability, your interest for social matters and your devotion to questions related to the future of the younger generations.
I take great pleasure in inviting you all to join me in a toast to Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, to the people of the United Kingdom, and to the friendship between our countries.