I don't know how much interest there really is in the Regent Couple's visit to Greenland. Anyway, I'll write a summary about that later.
Considering the tragedy in Norway I'm pleased to learn that the Regent Couple out of respect cancelled most of the events Saturday.
What follow here is an account of what is going on behind the scenes, when you are a royal reporter in such an unusual place as north west Greenland. That sort of things genuinely interest me. It also provides a different angle to the visit.
This is based on a number of short articles wrote by BB reporter Annelise Weimann, and the photographer Hanne Juul.
They were both billeted onboard the patrol frigate Hvidbjørnen, which acted as an escort ship for Dannebrog. At night Hvidbjørnen sailed in front of Dannebrog in case there were undetected icebergs ahead. - In other words to avoid "doing a Titanic".
Icebergs are dangerous! They witnessed a rare thing: An iceberg suddenly rotating 360 degrees, repeat 360, not 180! It has happened before that a ship being too close to an iceberg overturning has been smashed from below and sunk.
The start of the visit began in the northern most parts of Greenland, Several hundred kilometres north of where Dannebrog and Hvidbjørnen (and the press) were, simply because these ships were too big for them to get close too land and there were even more icebergs up there. So the Regent Couple used a small patrol ship as a temporary base, which due to the weather became a somewhat long stay.
Anyway, back to Hvidbjørnen. Our two intrepid reporters were onboard the frigate and the navy life was obviously a very novel experience! They had their own cabin (pure luxury) in the bottom of the ship in the "dead man's corridor", socalled because there is only one emergency exit. Even if that thought alone should give you problems sleeping, they were awaken by the unfamiliar sounds of a navy ship, like the anchor going or the helicopter taking off at night.
Another novel thing was that they had to conform to navy traditions and the (self-)discipline onboard a ship operating in the arctic. That included that no one
begins to eat, until the head of the table at which they are sitting, give his/her permission!
Always, always don survival suits when entering a boat in order to go ashore. Always, always report to the NCO in charge when you leave or return to the ship.
However, for a photographer in particular and the rest of the press the sight of whales surfacing nearby to have a breath (and a look at the ship) was also an experience that could call every man on deck.
It wasn't all sweet sailing and whale watching. the sea was rough at times. A sailor from Danneborg had to be transported to a hospital to undergo emergency surgery.
The Frigate suddenly had to race ahead to rescue two stranded fishermen, who had run out of fuel and were stranded and pretty cold on a rock. - They had remembered to bring plenty of beer, but apparantly not enough petrol....
Billed-Bladet - Hvidbjørnens helikopter redder to på Grønland
At some point the Regent Couple paid a curtesy call to Hvidbjørnen. Alas, for our reporters thet were stranded on land, while the Regent Couple went onboard the Frigate. And as the crew lined up, there were no one to sail them to the navy ship....
They did however manage to hitch a ride back to the frigate while QMII & PH were still onboard. Prince Henrik wanted to have a closer look at the helicopter (a Sea Lynx) and our reporters followed suit and stood gawking at the aircraft when the captain tapped one of them on the shoulder. QMII was standing right behind them and would they mind move aside please? - "Sorry". To which QMII smiled: "Never mind, you couldn't know I wanted to go by here".
Billed-Bladet - Dronningen kom om bord på BILLED-BLADETs skib
A funny thing is the close rapport, bordering on friendship which Prince Henrik has developed to at least parts of the press corps. At some point in land, there were loads of mosquitos around, as is the case in the tundra, and our BB representatives had prudently equipped themselves with mosquito repellant, which they sprayed themselves with. Prince Henrik noticed that and borrow the spray for himself.
That is typical of PH, but something we would never see QMII do. - She has a more reserved attitude to the press.
Billed-Bladet - Dronningen så på grønlandsk fårehold
They have thoroughly enjoyed their stay onboard the Frigate, Hvidbjørnen, despite having to get used to the peculiar nautical terms used there.
Billed-Bladet - Farvel til Margrethe og Hvidbjørnen
Summary of a number of articles in Billed Bladet #29, 2011.
All written by Annelise Weimann.
This is second part of the visit to Greenland.
Every seventh year the Regent Couple go on a major tour of Greenland. The last time was in 2004, where Mary and Frederik joined them.
Greenland Uummannaq is a major town, in relative terms. So big in fact that it has a port and several factories and it was here the Regent Couple arrived.
The locals were out, many in the national costumes. The children had been issued paper-crowns and Greenlandic flags. (*) The Coast Guard vessels were adorned with signal flags. Yes, it was a grand spectacle.
In front of the orphanage a group of children performed a traditional drum-dance.
The Regent Couple were of course presented with gifts, Prince Henrik’s was a pair of traditional sunglasses used by hunters. (**) QMII received a walking stick made a narwhal tusk.
As this is a major town a football/soccer match had been organized between the crew from the frigate, Hvidbjørnen and the local team. – It doesn’t say who won. Prince Henrik, leaning against a police car was cheering for the Hvidbjørnen crew.
Population: 57. A small hamlet, mainly populated by hunters. The water was so shallow here that the Regent Couple had to be transferred from the barge from Dannebrog to a rubber dinghy from the escorting frigate in order to even get ashore.
Even though they have been to Greenland many times, they had never seen the skins of two recently killed polar bears being stretched and hanged out to dry.
Fish and meat from seal were hanging everywhere in order to dry in the open air, visibly interesting Prince Henrik. He also attempted to get friendly with a couple of sligh dogs, only to learn: “They tried to bite off my glove”.
After having seen the village it was time for a “coffee-mik” at a table placed outside.
QMII as usual was presented with a bouquet of flowers and when a local girl presented her with a newly picked yellow flower, QMII found room for that in her bouquet.
While QMII went to the nearby arctic research station to learn about the climate changes, Prince Henrik went to a spring nearby where the most clean water on earth is tapped and sold under the name 938, which refer to the PH value of the water. He tasted the water and said: “Yumm, that taste lovely. It’s very good water, I like that very much. I do however have my own spring at Chateau de Cayx but I don’t sell the water”.
was raining when QMII arrived in this fishing port and wearing a typical for her bright red raincoat, she was as always presented with flowers. This bouquest however was unusual! You really have to look closer to notice it, the petals consists of coloured seal skin.
Here the Regent Couple were invited onboard a state of the art trawler and treated to dried shrimps, which they undaunted sampled.
(*) I don’t know if the Greenlandic flag has a name.
(**) They are very narrow, incased in a white frame. Presumably in order not to alert seals.