Speech by King Willem-Alexander at the state banquet during the state visit to Norway

Your Majesty,

Thank you for your kind words. The Queen and I are delighted to be visiting you and Queen Sonja. Thank you for once again offering us such warm hospitality. We have so many fond memories of Norway, and of exploring the country with you. And not just around Oslo, but further north too. 
Takk for sist! 

We have discovered the beauty of this country through your eyes. Nothing compares to the spectacular landscape of the Norwegian coastline. A magnificent and immense sculpture carved by Mother Nature herself. So very different from the Dutch polder landscape, which was created by human hands. 

Together with Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Marit, we explored the far north. An unforgettable experience. 
My wife and I often think about our trip to the Lyngen Alps. And the intriguing words of wisdom we saw on a sign there:

Don’t rush 
We’re going nowhere
We’re already here’

Norway is a place where you can find peace. But it’s more than that. More than simply a natural remedy for tension and stress. 

There is also tremendous vitality and dynamism in Norway. I’m reminded of the ship of polar explorer Fridtjof Nansen, which we visited today. Fram. Forwards! It’s a fitting symbol for this country and its people.

In many respects Norway is a nation of pioneers. 
Okay, they weren’t the first to reach the North Pole.
But at the South Pole they certainly made up for it!
Norway was the first country to introduce electric street lighting. 
It was a trailblazer in the fight for gender equality.
A leader in social security policy.
The first country to appoint a minister for the environment.
And it was one of the first countries to enshrine the separation of powers in its constitution, more than two centuries ago.

There is a true bond between Norway and the Netherlands. After a somewhat rough start in the time of the Vikings, we have built a flourishing and close relationship. 
When Dutch people come here to live and work, they integrate with no problems at all. 
We see the world in the same way. Human rights, democracy, freedom. Words that are often used without much thought. But for you and for us they are essential values. The very foundation of a happy life.

We greatly admire your country’s efforts to strengthen the international legal order and foster a more just world.

How can I best describe Norway? Bridge builder? Peace maker? Global mediator? All three are fitting descriptions. And have been for generations. 

As endless as the night can seem, the North shines a light that helps to reveal solutions. Across the globe, the word ‘Oslo’ has a comforting ring. You are the proof that countries with a small population can make a big impact.

We support you fully and we’re always keen to coordinate with you on the world stage. 
In the UN, in the WTO, and at European level too. I know: you’re not a member of the European Union. But fortunately, Norway is a prominent and valued member of the European family.

We also have an excellent working relationship within NATO. For Dutch Marines, the winter training course in Norway is an adventure they cherish their whole lives. To anyone familiar with the Netherlands’ wet, mild winters, the Norwegian snow and ice offer a mind-blowing experience.

At the same time, we in the Netherlands – just like you – are aware that the polar region we love so much is under pressure. The impact of climate change is especially palpable in the Arctic.

This poses a threat, first and foremost, to the people who live in the region. But it’s actually an alarm bell for us all. The Arctic is an area of natural heritage with which the entire world feels a bond.

Norway was one of the first countries in the world to call for climate action. It is among the most passionate advocates of global climate agreements. And in that quest you will always find us at your side.

As one of the world’s largest producers of oil and gas, Norway has a key role in the current energy supply. We, too, rely in part on Norwegian gas to get us through the winter. At the same time, as North Sea neighbours, we feel a grave responsibility to help facilitate the transition to more sustainable energy. 

On Thursday, in Trondheim, we will be meeting Dutch people and Norwegians who are working together on this challenge, for example by developing offshore wind and hydrogen solutions. We’re looking forward to it.

We sincerely hope that Crown Prince Haakon will be accompanying us to Trondheim. We know all about his love of the oceans and his commitment to economic development that respects sea and coastal life. 

We’re also pleased that we will have the opportunity to hear the voices of the Sámi people, who occupy such a special place in Norwegian society.

Your Majesty, it is said that the Norwegian people learn to ski before they can walk. 

Last month we read that an almost-perfectly preserved set of skis from the Viking period had been discovered in the ice on Digervarden mountain.

Thirteen hundred years of winter sports experience… No one can compete with that!

So I salute the country that tops the Winter Olympic Games all-time medal table. A country that defies the elements and always moves forwards!

And now, allow me to raise a glass.
To the masters of winter.
To the friendship between Norway and the Netherlands.
And to your good health, Your Majesties.