Bicentenary of the Norwegian Constitution kicks off with Treaty of Kiel celebration

The bicentenary of the Norwegian Constitution got off to the best possible start in Kiel on 14 January with a magnificent celebration of the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Kiel. The celebration was the result of a two-year collaboration between the Norwegian Embassy in Berlin and the Schleswig-Holstein authorities.

The bicentenary of the Norwegian Constitution got off to the best possible start in Kiel on 14 January with a magnificent celebration of the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Kiel. The celebration was the result of a two-year collaboration between the Norwegian Embassy in Berlin and the Schleswig-Holstein authorities.

Knowledge of the Peace of Kiel and enthusiasm for an event to mark its 200th anniversary have grown considerably in Schleswig-Holstein over the past two years, and the Norwegian delegation, headed by President of the Storting Olemic Thommessen, was warmly received by the President of the Schleswig-Holstein State Parliament, the Minister President and the Mayor of Kiel. The wide-ranging Norwegian delegation included members of the Storting, county council leaders and representatives from the Norwegian, Swedish and Danish embassies. State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bård Glad Pedersen was also part of the delegation.   

In addition, some 430 Norwegians, including representatives of the Norwegian press, took the Color Line ferry from Norway to Kiel on Tuesday to attend the celebration, and en route participated in a history seminar given on board the ferry by Professor Ola Mestad from the University of Oslo’s Faculty of Law. “Norway was not at the table when the Peace of Kiel was signed. We can make up for that today,” he said.  

The celebration began with the opening of an exhibition on the Peace of Kiel at the City and Maritime Museum. The original Treaty of Kiel is a highlight of the exhibition. Later in the day, a short ceremony was held to officially name the square behind the museum Platz des Kieler Friedens (“Peace of Kiel square”). Music was provided by the Norwegian Armed Forces’ staff band.

The celebrations continued with an event hosted by the Schleswig-Holstein State Parliament at Kiel Castle, where speeches were given by President of the State Parliament Klaus Schlie, Minister President Torsten Albig, President of the Storting Olemic Thommessen and State Secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bård Glad Pedersen.

In his speech, Mr Pedersen emphasised the importance of the Constitution for the development of the Norwegian state and Norwegian society. “In the spring of 1814, Norway was given a unique opportunity to write its own Constitution, a platform on which we have built our identity and our values for 200 years. The values enshrined in the Constitution create a solid foundation, not just for our own society, but also for our global engagement, for our efforts to promote peace, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and human rights. It is as important to foster these values today as it was 200 years ago. It is precisely these common values that bind the European countries together and underpin our common outlook. And we work together through the UN and in other global arenas to promote these values.”

The celebrations concluded with an original and well-choreographed piece performed by pupils of dance and drama at Skien upper secondary school, a comic take on the period from the Napoleonic Wars up to the signing of the Peace of Kiel, which was accompanied by a local youth orchestra from Kiel. The cooperation that has been established between young people in Norway and Schleswig-Holstein was mentioned in several of the speeches, and the performance was evidence of the fact that cooperation of this kind can bear creative and educational results.    

Danse- og dramaelever fra Skien
The celebrations concluded with an original and well-choreographed piece performed by pupils of dance and drama at Skien upper secondary school. (Photo: Marius Helge Larsen)