Celebration of the 80th birthdays of King Harald and Queen Sonja

Speech by Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the celebrations at Oslo Opera House, 10 May 2017.

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Your Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja,

Welcome to the Opera House.

This evening, we are gathered to celebrate your birthdays and the 80 years you can look back on. The King himself has said that age is just a number, and that is actually a very good point. More of us should think along those lines.

As you know, I am keen to encourage people to stay in the workforce for as long as they can. And I must say that the two of you are setting an excellent example in that respect. You are active, energetic and fully present in everything you do.  

I believe most of us have a lot to learn from our King and Queen. The warmth, closeness and humour you share, both with each other and with the whole of Norway, are a source of inspiration that more of us should draw on.

There is even a book that claims that Norway would be an even happier place if more of us followed The King’s example and worried a little less. As is fitting for a constitutional monarchy, the title of the book is not ‘The King commands’, but ‘The King recommends’.  

 

Much has changed in Norway since the two of you became a couple. 

Forms of address and the degree of formality have changed a great deal since the 1960s. Those born in the 1980s probably don’t know what I am talking about, but I think The King and Queen will understand. When we slip up and address you in the informal ‘you’ form, it is just because we feel that you are so close to us.

The role of men has changed radically in recent decades, and here too The King has done a good job of showing us that men – even men in the highest of positions – can look after the children. Today it goes without saying that fathers do their part.

The role of women has also changed considerably. If it weren’t for the many women who have ventured into working life, Norway would not be what it is today. Even the roles of crown princess and queen have changed. The Queen courageously blazed a trail in this respect, making life easier for those following in her footsteps.

You are ordinary people with extraordinary jobs. You have your worries – some great and some small – as well as sources of joy, both great and small. You have children and grandchildren. You have each other. And then you have us. Five million Norwegians who all feel they own a small part of you.

You are excellent ambassadors for Norway, and for our country’s natural beauty and culture. For the companies that give us livelihoods. For the people who live here.  

 

You have seen Norway develop over the years.

From a relatively poor country that had to be rebuilt after a devastating world war, to one of the most prosperous countries in Europe. There have been ups and downs. There have been good times and bad times. We have laughed together, and we have cried together.

You have followed Norway on this journey. Every single day.

It’s been quite a journey. Having said that, most days have been quite ordinary, but that’s life. It’s the ordinary days that make up most of our lives. But every now and then, we come together for parties and celebrations. As we have this evening. 

 

In a world full of unrest, conflicts and extremist views, you give our society a unique sense of continuity. A fixed point in our lives. We need this. You help to create an inclusive society based on trust, openness and generosity of spirit.

A few years ago, The King said: ‘People say that wisdom comes with age. In my experience, age can often come on its own, too!’  Fortunately this is not true of either of you.

Thank you for being yourselves. And thank you for everything you are for us. Congratulations on your 80th birthdays!