The gala banquet held at the Oslo Opera House in honour of the birthdays of Their Majesties The King and Queen concluded with spectacular fireworks. The gala banquet marked the end of the two-day celebration, and King Harald and Queen Sonja gave a joint speech to express their thanks at the evening banquet hosted by the Government. The first event on the day’s programme for the King and Queen and their guests was a cruise on the Oslo fjord.
In the morning King Harald and Queen Sonja invited their guests on a cruise of the Oslo fjord and a luncheon on board the Royal Yacht Norge. Both the hosts and their guests were properly attired for the wet and cold weather conditions. They arrived at the Honnørbrygga dock at Oslo City Hall quayside at 11:00 am and were conveyed to the Royal Yacht. A 21-gun salute was fired from Akershus Fortress as King Harald boarded the boat that would take him out to the Norge.
His Majesty The King’s Guard started the procession to the Oslo Opera House, marching from the Royal Palace at 6:15 pm. At 6:30 pm they were followed by the royal guests from Norway and abroad in a motorcade.
Several different marching bands performed along the route, and when the guests arrived at the Opera House they were met with dance performances both inside and outside the building. Guests in formal attire took the time to greet the press as they made their way down the specially designed carpet.
The banquet was attended by 270 guests. There were representatives of all of the counties, the Norwegian authorities and Norwegian society . The cultural and sport spheres were also well represented.
The Government chose to hold the banquet at the Opera House rather than at Akershus Castle, and included musical and dance performances as an important part of the experience gift to the King and Queen. The programme featured a large number of singers, musicians and dancers who performed before and during the banquet. The guests were treated to folk dance and ballet, choral groups and soloists, opera and tango.
King Harald and Queen Sonja gave a speech together to thank the Government for the evening’s gift. Their Majesties also expressed how grateful they were to have a meaningful life in service and for the opportunity to be themselves, which they saw as critical to success.
What would my life have been these 80 years without the chance to define my own path and find my own meaning in my duties, my succession and my service?” asked the King. “It was certainly hard for my father to follow my highly esteemed grandfather. And it was difficult for me to follow my much-loved father. But I soon realised that the only way to do it was to do it my way. To be myself. That applies to all of us in life.”
Queen Sonja shared a similar experience:
“Through experience, time and the general evolution of society, I gradually came to understand that it was possible to combine being a queen and being myself, being Sonja. That, in fact, there was no way around it! I think we all need to feel coherence in our lives. We need a foundation, a sense of security to be able to develop ourselves.”
The King and Queen also thanked each other for invaluable support:
“Today I give thanks for the ability and support to carry out my role in a way that has felt right to me. I could not have accomplished this without my wife of nearly 50 years by my side. Today I would especially like to express my deep gratitude to the Queen.”
“I would also like to express my deep gratitude to the King this evening – even though he once called me a troll – for giving me the space to shape my official role in a way that is meaningful for me.”
Candles lit up the Palace Square as a surprise for the Royal Family on their return to the Royal Palace.