William & Kate visit sculpture garden & tour ‘St Andrews’ plus black tie dinner on #RoyalVisitNorway

After two days in Sweden, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrived in Norway today, to continue their Scandinavian visit.  They had a busy day of engagements, meeting with members of the Norwegian Royal Family and visiting a sculpture garden named after Princess Ingrid Alexandra, who is second-in-line to the throne.

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William and Catherine had been due to visit the Uppsala airbase this morning prior to leaving Sweden; however, this engagement was cancelled as a result of the snow in Stockholm. The couple were supposed to visit the base to see some of Sweden’s fighter jets.  The Duke and Duchess instead had a meeting with Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist, who briefed the royal couple on the country’s Armed Forces.

The Cambridges then departed Sweden for the next stop on their visit: Oslo.  While flying between the two countries, the Duke and Duchess were treated to a special display from the Swedish Air Force’s Gripen fighter jet.

Upon arrival in Oslo, William and Kate were greeted by Crown Prince Haakon and his wife, Crown Princess Mette-Marit. Haakon is the only son of King Harald and Queen Sonja and is the heir to the Norwegian throne.

A special red carpet was laid out on the snowy runway for the guests and their staff to use. Despite the cold weather, both royal couples seemed to be in good spirits, exchanging warm greetings as the Cambridges were welcomed to Norway.

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After meeting Haakon and Mette-Marit at the airport, the Cambridges then travelled to the Norwegian Royal Palace in central Oslo, where they met other members of the family.

At the Palace, William and Kate were introduced to King Harald and Queen Sonja. They also met Princess Martha-Louise, Harald and Sonja’s daughter, and Princess Astrid, King Harald’s sister.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pose for an official photograph with King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway (Kensington Palace)

The families gathered for photographs to mark the visit before they exchanged gifts. Amongst other items, the Norwegian royals received a signed picture of William and Catherine, while they were given a photograph of Harald and Sonja.

The Cambridges also received a set of jumpers – one each for the couple, George, Charlotte and ‘the Prince or Princess to come’!

L – R: Mette-Marit, Haakon, Catherine, William, Harald and Sonja (Kensington Palace)

The full royal party: Princess Martha-Louise, Princess Astrid, Crown Prince Haakon, the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William, King Harald, Queen Sonja and Crown Princess Mette-Marit (Kensington Palace)

Gifts were exchanged in the White Parlour. Photo: Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, The Royal Court

The Cambridges then visited the Princess Ingrid Alexandra Sculpture Park. The couple were escorted around the park by Sonja, Haakon, Mette-Marit and their 14-year old daughter, Princess Ingrid Alexandra, after whom the park is named. The park is located within the Palace Gardens, and all the Royals wrapped up well against the fierce Norwegian cold. It was opened last year to celebrate the 25th anniversary (Silver jubilee) of King Harald’s reign.

The park currently has four sculptures, all of which were designed by and for children; the designs are chosen by cartoon competitions which are held in Norwegian schools.

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The royal party walk round the Princess Ingrid Alexandra Sculpture Park (Kensington Palace)

During their walkabout, William and Catherine also had the chance to speak to the crowds who had gathered to catch a glimpse of the royal visitors. William met two different women who were both celebrating their 50th birthdays and joking told them that they should have a joint birthday party, while Catherine was apparently very impressed with the snow.

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After their tour of the park, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge then attended an event at MESH, which is a co-working space in Oslo used by entrepreneurs and start-up businesses. William and Kate were joined by Haakon and Mette-Marit as they met with several Norwegian entrepreneurs.

Among other innovative Norwegian products, the couple were able to reconnect with the beginning of their relationship, as they used technology to take a virtual tour of St Andrews – which is, of course, where they met at university!

The expectant parents ended today’s festivities with an official dinner at the invitation of the Norwegian Royal Family, held at the Royal Palace. William and Catherine were joined at the event by government officials, business leaders and members of Norway’s creative industries, as well as veterans and current members of the country’s Armed Forces.

Prince William made a speech at the dinner: “Your Majesties, I bring warm greetings from my grandmother The Queen to you both and to the Norwegian people.  Her Majesty has very fond memories of her three State Visits to Norway, and of hosting visits by Your Majesties and King Olav.

The Royal guests of the official dinner: L – R – Princess Martha-Louise, King Harald, Queen Sonja, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Princess Astrid (Kensington Palace)

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The Duchess of Cambridge with King Harald of Norway, followed by prince william and queen sonja, at a dinner held at the Royal Palace on the first day of the couple’s visit to Norway. Picture by Stephen Lock / i-Images

The future King also  praised the friendship between Norway and the UK: “Thousands of people cross the North Sea in each direction every year.  Friendship is the hallmark of what prompts them to make that journey.

“Catherine and I are delighted that, now, we too have made that journey; we too have experienced the warmth of that friendship on this very special visit.”

“Geography and history have made Norway and the United Kingdom not only North Sea neighbours, but the staunchest of allies.

Prince William made a speech, praising the friendship and warmth himself and Catherine have received from their hosts (Kensington Palace)

“In Britain we will forever admire the courageous spirit of Norwegians during the Second World War. King Haakon’s staunch resistance to the Nazis resonated strongly in Britain, a beacon of defiance, as Europe lived through one of its darkest periods.

The Duke’s speech in full can be read here.

Tomorrow marks the final day of the Cambridges’ visit.  We have also covered the Swedish leg of the trip –  you can read about what their hockey match from Day One and yesterday’s tea at the Palace, where they met Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar.

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