Official visit to the US: Christmas Tree Lighting
It is good to be back in Washington D.C., and to meet all our American friends – when we continue the tradition of lighting the Norwegian Christmas tree here at Union Station.
It was fantastic to see the performers, I think we should do another round of applause.
I actually also lit the tree here in 1998 – and this year is the 25th time Norway has presented a Christmas tree to the people of Washington.
With this tree we highlight the strong bond between the United States and Norway. The tree symbolizes our gratitude for the United States’ assistance during and after World War II, and the enduring friendship between our two countries ever since.
This symbolism means a lot to me – both on a personal level and as a representative of Norway.
My father, King Harald V, spent the years during World War II here, in the DC area, upon invitation of the United States President. He came here with his mother and two sisters, my two aunts, fleeing occupied Norway, and was not able to return to Norway until after it was liberated five years later.
My father actually has memories of playing under the desk in the Oval Office.
My family found safe refuge here, and for that I am eternally grateful.
Still, this is of course more than a family story: the friendship and help extended to Norway during that time and in the aftermath of war, were extremely important to our country.
Our bond has grown in the decades since. We are allies in NATO. We are partners on the global stage, working together on some of the most difficult challenges facing us today.
We are close friends, who in normal times visit one another, study, and work in each other’s countries.
If I can leave you with one main message tonight – from me to the people of this city and to the United States, it would be this: Thank you.
Now, let’s focus on tonight’s important act – lighting the tree, which is 32 feet tall and bears more than 20,000 lights. If you will please all join me, we will try to get this tree lit!
Ten – nine – eight – seven – six – five – four – three – two – one -!
I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season.
Thank you for your attention!