The King of Norway’s New Year Message 2024

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This year, King Harald used his traditional New Year’s speech to highlight the battle against climate change. He began by quoting Norway's Nobel Prize winning writer Jon Fosse.

New Year’s Eve in Norway isn’t just about setting off fireworks and having fun. Each year, The King of Norway appears on national television in the early evening to give a speech to the people.

Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway.
Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway.

Born in 1937, Norway's King Harald has been on the throne since 1991. Because of the health problems suffered by King Harald in recent years, the number of public appearances he’s made has been reduced.

This means the speech gives the public a chance to see him and hear from him. However, this year's speech was broadcast just minutes after the surprise abdication of Margrethe, Queen of Denmark, which stole the headlines in Norway and around Europe.

“Invisible hands guide us”

Compared to the speech in Denmark, Norway's King chose to start his speech in a less surprising manner. He began by saying “invisible hands guide us,” a quote from Jon Fosse, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature earlier this year.

The King went on to say that there are many, both in Norway and the rest of the world, who may need these invisible hands right now: “Love, friendship, a belief in God, will, hope. We all need some invisible hands.”

The King then called for the lighting of candles. “A light for all who suffer in wars and conflicts. A light for people we miss. And a light for hope,” he said.

A Focus on Community

King Harald also focused on unity and community, and the concept of “we”.

King Harald live on NRK.
King Harald giving his New Year speech live on Norwegian TV. Screenshot from NRK.

“We is a small, but spacious and beautiful word. For ‘we', it embraces us all. It is the opposite of us and them. The opposite of putting each other in boxes,” he said.

The King also remembered Norwegian ethnic groups who have not had it so well through Norwegian history, as brought out in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“There, shocking stories were told about the injustice committed against the Sami, Kvens, and Forest Finns through the brutal policy of Norwegianization – which went on from around 1850 until well into our own time. People were deprived of their language, their culture, their self-confidence, and their identity. For some, it was a matter of life and death.”

Clear climate message

King Harald also addressed the youth of Norway. In particular, he sent a crystal clear message on the climate:

“I share the young people's concern and their impatience. The hope is that the new goals set by world leaders must be followed by action. We now need everyone's impatience before time runs out for us. I cannot stress this strongly enough.”

To finish, the King returned to Jon Fosse's invisible hands. “We must protect this good spark within ourselves. For this is us, this is we. My New Year's hope is that we shall be the invisible hands that guide each other.”

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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