(Translated by me.)
H.M. the King's speech at the Dinner for the Storting (Parliament) on November 3rd, 2005.
President of the Storting.
The year 2005 will in many ways be remembered in connection with the dissolution of the union. The liberation of 1905 has been marked both out in the districts and in more central locations. Both the Storting and the Palace has had their share of important days to remember. We have nursed the good contact with Sweden, and we have just returned from a very giving visit to Great Britain. Next week, the Queen and I will visit Denmark, before we end the jubilee with ball at the Palace and festivities in the end of November.
But on this day, November 3rd, for exactly 100 years ago, the fate of Norway was still uncertain. The Norwegian people had quit the contract with Sweden. Shellsetting decisions remained.
It's thought-provoking to see how some few days and weeks can be hours of destiny in a country's history. On November 3rd, 1905, the nation still hadn't decided what form of government they would have, or the choice between monarchy and republic. A few days later the people voted in a referendum. Thus altering the speed of the development. Within mere hours and days, things happened that would be the foundation in the building of the new Norwegian state.
On November 18. the Storting chose Prince Carl of Denmark to be the King of Norway. The same evening, a delegation from the Norwegian storting left Kristiania (today's Oslo) to travel to Copenhagen and ask for the approval of the Danish King. November 20th saw King Christian IX give his approval so that his grandson could take the Norwegian throne. King Haakon and Queen Maud left Denmark three days later, and on November 25th, they arrived in Kristiania. Two days after that, King Haakon swore the oath to the Constitution in the Storting.
Over few weeks, decisions were made that testifies about maturity, the ability to act, and courage to do so.
The choices of destiny in 1905 came close - but hardly unprepared. It may have happen then, as it has since, that some people had talked together.
A few months after all this, King Haakon and Queen Maud invited the Storting and the Cabinet to a dinner at the Palace. Since then, it has been a tradition. The press must have, even then, been interested in royals and politicians, and Aftenposten writes the following. ”With the exception of three socialists, every member of the Storting was present. At the steak, HM the King held a speech that was listened to with the greatest attention."
In the speech King Haakon said something of the following: "I want to use this opportunity to speak the wish that the men chosen by the people at every time must be able to be the guests of the King, and at the King and Queen of Norway must have the same joy of being with the men of the Storting that my wife and I feel tonight. With the gratefulness of the Norwegian people and the European approval this will be remembered as a beautiful example of national togetherness and agreement. May this memory shed light on the roads of the future."
We would perhaps say it a bit differently today, but the thought and the content are similar. For the Queen and I, it is always a great pleasure to host Stortinget and the Cabinet to the yearly dinner here at the Palace. With a new Storting and a new Cabinet, it is of course, extra exciting this year, both for us and for you. But you're all very welcome.
As I look out over this well-dress, wonderful group of people, it hits me that there must have been some development in the past 100 years. From a group of men advancing in the years, there is currently a group consisting of about as many women as men, and a considerably lower group average in terms of years. Also compared with the last Storting there has been a change in generations, - or I'm the one getting older.
It's a good sign that so many young people are engaged in the political life. Sometimes you can get the impression that young people don't take responsibilities. That is being disproven in here. New research also shows that the Norwegian youths are the most political active in Europe. That is something of which we can be proud, and makes the future look bright.
But it is no easy case taking on political responsibilities. It demands a lot, both work and missing out on other things. And as many of you may have experienced, the thanks you get isn't always proportional to the work you do. For those on the outside, it may seem like you're living in a cross pressured with anticipations from all sides. While you have to relate to demands for quick results from counties and local environments, you also have to think about the parties and national interests. In addition to this, you also need to be knowledgable about, and have a position on a long line of international challenges. And all the time - the press wants their share of you. Connected to that, I believe there is much truth in a comment from former PM Jan P. Syse who said that "Nobody knows the day before they've read tomorrow's newspapers."
The campaign this summer also shows signs that politicians have talent for entertainment. While political debates and questioning the leaders of the parties formerly was deadly serious, the participants now need to appeal to the media and almost steal the show to be noticed. Maybe there is a need to find a balance between always offering oneself, and bringing forth what one wants to say? It shouldn't have to be that politicians should be entertainers to succeed. As one member of the Storting said: "We mustn't lose our heads; we might be needing it."
We live in a country with good democratic traditions. Here it goes without being said that we can have political elections and change goverments in peaceful ways. It isn't like that everywhere. In many countries, distrust, hate and opposites contribute to large political conflicts, and the fear of relinquishing power often starts with a fear of revenge from the new seats of power. As a contributer to building of democracies and good way to rule, Norway may be a leading country and thus contribute with useful long term help.
A strength in our society is also the close contact that exists between the leaders of the land, and the people. We have good experiences with open hearings in the Storting, and most people have options to reach the top with their points of view. It is the task of politics to listen to the "root of the grass", and clarify separation of opinions and lines for those. In the heat of the campaign, it may be tempting to enhance what a party lacks as well as the distance between the parties, but it is confidence building to see how the responsibility for the common good leads to cooperation and good solutions.
We have a rich country, with large values, and we have reserves for generations to come. But the values upon which we build for the years to come must be more than that. We can't just offer new generations money in the bank, and more material goods. People need something to live of, but they also need something to live for. Something that worries me in this time and age is everybody that has trouble with their lives. New research shows that one in five young people have serious problems with the psyche. Maybe all the demands are too much?
Competition is the melody of the time. Ranking things is like a fever spreading, and ranking in-comparable sizes keeps spreading. Who is the 10 most intelligent in this country, and what our 10 most important pieces of art is, are just some of the things we have to face. Finding winners - and by associations losers, is the result. In the middle of all this we have the televisions series about the football team Tufte*, a relieving counter-measure. There we meet nice, real people, who aren't perfect, and don't know everything. Maybe it is the sign of recognition that is the most important reason for Tufte's success? We are many who don't know everything, and don't succeed with everything, and recognize ourselves in their problems on the field.
Also at the Storting there might be times when the levels of the prestations may be so-so. A former representative is rumoured to have characterized something in the hall of the Storting like this: "He reminded me of the famous adventurer, Vasco da Gama. When he started he didn't know where he was going; on the way he didn't know where he was, and when he got back, he didn't know where he had been.".
Hopefully, you'll all remember where you have been this afternoon. I hope you have a memorable dinner, and I look forward to cooperating with you in the following time.
I wish the President of the Storting, and every representative, good luck with the work they do in a manner benefitting country and people.
I would like to propose a toast to the Storting and the mother country.
* Tufte is based on the Danish reality series F.C Zulu, in which they gather up a bunch of geeks/nerds who can't play football (soccer for those of you who insist on referring to rugby with padding as football), and teach them to play as a team. The series have been hugely popular in Norway, and recently a match between Tufte and a team from an organization in Rogaland, sold out over 15,000 seats in a football stadium. In comparison: there are still 9,000 available tickets to the home-team's last match in the UEFA cup.