Unity on show as Norway’s royals sail in

It is a paradox, but when the Norwegian royal family arrived in Sweden yesterday to mark the one hundredth anniversary of the break up of the Norway-Sweden union, the tone was very much focused on that which unites the two countries.

The Norwegian king, queen and crown prince were welcomed with curtsies, hugs and kisses from Crown Princess Victoria when they arrived on the Royal Yacht Norge for a two-day official visit.

The king and queen had arrived after a turbulent journey. They had sailed all the way from Olso on the vessel, which is nearly 70 years old, and had endured some pretty rough weather on the way. Hardly a pleasure cruise, even for accomplished sailor King Harald.

Crown Prince Haakon flew in to Stockholm to join his parents. He was not joined by his wife, Mette-Marit, who is pregnant and suffering from low blood pressure. Nothing serious, but she needs to take it easy, the Norwegian royal palace insists.

The first day of the official visit was filled with culture, exhibitions and fine words about all the things that Sweden and Norway have in common. At Waldemarsudde, the former home of Prince Eugen, now a museum, and also celebrating its centenary, King Carl Gustaf inaugurated an exhibition entitled Myth and Landscape – The Dissolution of the Union and Cultural Affinity.

The two royal couples came together and took a walk around the house – Queen Silvia in a beige outfit and Queen Sonja of Norway in a blue dress with white spots, both wearing similar wide-brimmed hats.

In the shadow of a large statue of the god Oden and surrounded by paintings of war-like vikings and valkyries (the latter both clothed and unnclothed), the Swedish king officially opened the exhibition.

Queen Sonja presented the Prince Eugen Culture Prize to Norwegian singer Merete Lökkenberg Meyer and Swedish poet Jenny Tunedal.

The queen talked warmly of Prince Eugen’s sense of justice and his sympathy for Norwegian freedom during the fight for independence a century ago.

The only reminder of rivalry between Norway and Sweden was provided by King Harald:

“We are twin souls as much as we are good neighbours,” he told an audience in Stockholm’s Norwegian Church, but added that despite this it was still “particularly pleasing when we beat Sweden on the sports field.”