Friday, 23 March 2012

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall visiting the Kingdom of Norway

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall were guests of honour at the banquet at Oslo's Royal Palace.

The Prince said it was "such a pleasure" to be in Norway again, as he began his tour of Scandinavia with his "darling wife"

The Prince's speech raised a laugh from the 74 people attending, as he told them: "I have the fondest memories of my first visit to Norway in August 1969 when my sister and I came with our parents in the old Royal Yacht Britannia.

"It was then that I discovered three memorable and endearing things about the Norwegians.

"First of all that virtually every house seemed to fly the Norwegian flag, secondly that our anthems are exactly the same, and thirdly that Norwegians tend to stay up all night during the summer.

He described the "incredibly close and multiple family ties" shared by the British and Norwegian royals through their shared ancestor Queen Victoria and his pride that they stand "shoulder to shoulder" within NATO.

The Prince, who had already privately expressed his condolences to King Harald over the death of five Norwegian Air Force officers in a crash in Sweden last week, publicly extended his "most heartfelt condolences" to the families of those who lost their lives.

King Harald told the guests, who included Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and AUF leader Eskil Pedersen, who survived the Utoya massacre, that the two nations are "united by history and the North Sea".

He paid tribute to Queen Elizabth's reign, adding: "She has served the British people with unfailing devotion, dignity and distinction."

King Harald told The Prince and The Duchess: "We are more than friends. We are family."

20th March 2012

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall praised the bravery of survivors of the Utoya massacre when they arrived in Oslo for the first day of their tour of Scandinavia in Oslo.

The Royal Couple visited the Norwegian capital's Nobel Peace Centre on the first day of their tour of Scandinavia as part of The Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

They were introduced to members of Labour youth league the AUF who were on the island of Utoya for a summer camp on 22nd July last year when right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik launched an attack, shooting dozens of people.

The 33-year-old has confessed to the attacks on Utoya, and a bombing near government offices in Oslo, that left 77 people dead, but denies criminal responsibility

Mari West, 26, an AUF member and international co-ordinator for the Norwegian Labour party, told her: "We've talked to each other and also to professionals."

The Duchess asked: "Have you written a diary about what happened? I always think it's a good thing to do, while it's still fresh. Because as time goes on, you forget things."

Asmund Aukrust, 27, vice president of the AUF, replied: "I think we were recommended to do it. I didn't, and now I regret it."

The Duchess discussed when it was that those on the island realised what was happening and asked if the survivors still suffered nightmares, which some admitted they did.

Stian Valla Taraldsvik, 19, a political adviser for the AUF, added that the massacre was "a great challenge" to the organisation and said: "Some had nightmares and some have blind spots."

AUF leader Eskil Pedersen, 28, told The Prince in his discussion with the royal: "People have been through quite dreadful things.

"A lot of people were on the island up to the point where the gunman was taken into custody. Others swam or were taken on the boats.

"I think it's safe to say that these people have gone through the most dramatic thing in Norway since the Second World War. But at the same time, it is important to say that we don't want it to dominate our thoughts every day.

The Royal Couple also took part in discussions on youth engagement and enjoyed a performance by Norwegian musician Mikhael Paskalev, who trained at Liverpool's Paul McCartney Institute for Performing Arts, at the Nobel Peace Centre

21st March 2012
The Norwegian city of Bergen was the second stop on The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall's tour of Scandinavia today.

Known for its rain, the city did not disappoint and The Duchess of Cornwall and Queen Sonja of Norway braved the conditions at an outdoor nursery in Norway's second largest city.

The pair met school children who have their lessons in a forest environment in all weathers. It was a particularly foggy and wet day, and The Duchess said to one child in an anorak: "I wish I had my wet weather gear on."

The Prince and King Harald of Norway went on board the M/V Brennholm to see the work the Institute for Marine Research is doing to encourage sustainable fishing.

His Royal Highness's own International Sustainability Unit recently launched a report on sustainable fisheries and The Prince has for many years been concerned about global fish stocks.

The Prince and The Duchess then accompanied The King and Queen for a cultural performance at the Hakonshallen, a medieval hall first visited by The Prince with Queen Elizabeth in 1969. He had specifically asked to go back to the hall because of his earlier trip there.

They listened to musical performances on the recorder and harpsichord, songs performed by a choir and watched an African-inspired dance.

Their Royal Highnesses met familiar faces when they went on a walkabout in the Bryggen area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Prince was given the chance to show off his skills with an axe when he visited a workshop on the Bryggen. Watched by The Duchess, he stood astride a log - to be used as part of a beam to support the wooden buildings - and wielded an axe to split it.

Their Royal Highnesses stopped to speak to locals as they made their way around the historic area.

The Prince then made his way to HMS Liverpool, while The Duchess and The Queen of Norway visited Troldhaugen, a wooden villa overlooking a fjord which was used as a summer house by composer Edvard Grieg. They were given a private piano recital of his work and had afternoon tea at the villa, which is now a museum.

Here is a video of The Prince's speech given during a visit to HMS Liverpool, in which he thanked the crew ahead of the ship's decommissioning.

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