European Royals gather to celebrate King Harald and Queen Sonja’s 80th birthdays

Over the past two days, King Harald and Queen Sonja have celebrated their 80th birthdays, with the help of Royals from across Europe, including King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, King Phillipe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium, The Countess of Wessex, and King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands.

King Harald and Queen Sonja celebrated their 80th birthdays with their family, plus European Royalty, including: The Countess of Wessex, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, King Phillipe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Queen Margrethe of Denmark (Thomas Brun, NTB scanpix/Norwegian Royal Court)

The first day of the celebrations started with The King and Queen being presented with Congratulations from 11am on Tuesday. The President of Norway’s Parliament, Olemic Thommessen, presented the Royal couple with a painting of King Olav from 1958.

After this private start to the day, Royals from all over Europe started to arrive. The first were the Danish Royal Family, who arrived on Royal Yacht Dannebrog. Currently, only the Norwegian and Danish royal families have yachts still in use.

The British royal family was represented by Sophie, Countess of Wessex and The Queen’s cousin, Lady Elizabeth Shakerley. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, Prince Albert II of Monaco, and Duke Herri and Grand Duchess Maria-Teresa of Luxembourg, were all in attendance.

Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, and their Danish counterparts, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, also attended celebrations on both days.

King Harald turned 80 in February, while Queen Sonja will hit become an octogenarian in July. The joint celebrations were therefore scheduled to be held in the middle of the two birthdays.

However, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain attended the second day of celebrations only. Their son and daughter-in-law, the present Spanish King and Queen did not attend. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, and the former Dutch Queen, Princess Beatrix were also there to mark the happy occasion.

The public ceremony started at 5:30pm in Palace Square, where there was a drill demonstration by The King’s Guard, and music by the choral group Soul Children. Traditional ‘Crown’ ice-cream drumsticks were served to the crowds.

At 6:30pm the King and Queen walked onto the palace balcony, accompanied by other European royals in attendance. Several thousands of people sang ‘Happy Birthday’, before actor Bjarte Hjelmeland read a monologue for the King and Queen.

Later in the evening, the royals sat down for a gala dinner. Appetisers included king crab, oyster-maize and radishes, and salmon tartar with grilled cucumber. The Main Course was calf with peas, and green and white asparagus. The Dessert was limestone and oxalis mousse with lemon and gingerbread. An official photo was released by Norway’s Royal Court showing King Harald and Queen Sonja surrounded by members of their family, and by other European royals.

In a bizarre move, Crown Prince Haakon – Harald and Sonja’s son and heir – shaved his trademark beard off during the dinner. It was part of the entertainment at the gala dinner, according to the photographer at the event.

The next day started with the Norwegian Royal Yacht Norge taking Harald, Sonja and their guests on a cruise of the Oslo fjord. The Royals enjoyed lunch on-board the yacht while enjoying the sights of Oslo.

After the yacht trip, there was a break in the festivities to allow guests to prepare for the evening’s celebrations.

The Government of Norway and Prime Minister Erna Solberg hosted a gala banquet for The King and Queen and over 300 guests at the Oslo Opera House. The King’s Guard led the procession from the Royal Palace to the Opera House, where at 6:30 pm the royal guests followed behind.

Several thousand people gathered along the street to watch the procession. A children’s choir was located outside of Oslo University to entertain the spectators. In addition to this, there were military bands scattered down the parade route to create, what the royal court called a ‘festive atmosphere’. Up to 1,000 people were allowed on to the roof of the Opera House, to get a view of the Royals arriving.

After the gala had concluded, a fireworks display was held at 10:30pm, as a fantastic finale to two packed days of royal celebrations.

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