Norwegian Royal couple to mark historic ties with Orkney
Orkney will welcome Royal visitors later this week when Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway travel to the islands to mark the 900th anniversary of the death of St Magnus.
The visit, during the opening weekend of the St Magnus Festival, will be an occasion to celebrate Orkney’s longstanding relationship with Norway.
On Friday 16 June, the Royal couple will take part in a commemorative ceremony in memory of Norwegian sailors and World War 2 soldiers who are buried at St Olaf Cemetery near Kirkwall.
Musicians from Kirkwall Grammar School, members of Hadhirgan and young people involved in the Hear my Music project, at will perform for the Crown Prince and Crown Princess outside St Magnus Cathedral at 14:30, before the Royal couple are taken on a tour of the Cathedral.
Later in the afternoon they will return to the Cathedral for the opening night performance of I Pilgrim, by the Norwegian dramatist Jon Fosse and with music by the Scottish composer Alasdair Nicolson. The music will be performed by the Trondheim Soloists and BBC Singers.
The following day, the Crown Prince and Crown Princess will visit the Neolithic settlement Skara Brae.
Convener of Orkney Islands Council, Harvey Johnston, said: “Orkney’s ties with Norway are long and enduring and I am sure that the Royal couple will feel a genuine affinity for the islands during their visit.
“I would encourage as many folk as possible to give our Royal visitors a really warm Orkney welcome in Broad Street, when the Crown Prince and Crown Princess enjoy the musical talents of our youngsters in front of the Cathedral, before their tour of the building that keeps alive the memory of St Magnus.
“It is very appropriate that they are visiting our islands in the year when we mark the death 900 years ago of the man who became our patron saint. It was an event of huge historical significance to Orkney, led directly to the building of the Cathedral and was, of course, immortalised in the sagas.”
The Crown Prince last visited Orkney in 2001. For the Crown Princess, this will be a first visit to the county.
Leslie Burgher, Honorary Consul for Norway in Orkney, said: “It is in recognition of the importance that is attached to our shared history with Norway that their Royal Highnesses have agreed to come and mark the 900th anniversary of the martyrdom of St Magnus and it's a huge honour for the Festival to host their visit.
“Crown Prince Haakon is patron of several orchestras and festivals in Norway and the Crown Princess has a strong interest in promoting Norwegian literature, so their attendance at the premiere of a work by Alasdair Nicolson and leading Norwegian author, Jon Fosse, is very appropriate.
“The trip has already created considerable interest in Norway and we look forward to giving our Royal visitors a flavour of Orkney's produce, culture and history during their stay.”
Orkney’s historical ties to Norway date back many centuries to when the islands were populated by Norwegians in the late 700s.
Norway’s National Day – 17 May – is celebrated in the islands annually and, at Christmas, a tree is delivered to Orkney as a gift from the region of Hordaland.