The Queen of Norway spent Tuesday at an Oslo Crisis Center for women and children. She met with the shelter’s administrators and the people who are staying there for Christmas.
Upon arriving, Queen Sonja was greeted by the center’s manager, Inger-Lise Larsen Walmsness. The manager briefed the Queen for a half-hour before the two moved on touring the shelter.
The Queen eventually went to the center’s main room, where 25 women and children were decorating a gingerbread. Sonja sat down and helped them with their handiwork. She certainly has some experience with gingerbread – last week, the Norwegian royal family distributed Christmas pictures of them making a gingerbread house.
Before leaving, Queen Sonja was given a tour of the children’s room. An eleven year-old girl at the shelter gave her a collage as a thank you for visiting.
The Oslo Crisis Center is the oldest such place in Norway. It is also the largest, with 86 beds. This is the shelter’s 31st year.
The young man who will one day be King of Great Britain, spent a night in London’s alleyways to better understand the plight of the homeless. Prince William did this for the homeless charity, Centrepoint, which he is patron of.
Centrepoint Handout via AFP
The Prince, along with Seyi Obakin, chief executive of Centrepoint and a few others, slept near the Thames River on cardboard boxes as temperatures fell to 25 degrees Fahrenheit (minus zero Celsius).
“I cannot, after one night, even begin to imagine what it must be like to sleep rough on London’s streets night after night,” William said after his experience.
“There was no shielding from the bitter cold or the hard concrete floor or the fear of being accosted by drug dealers, pimps or those out to give homeless people a good kicking,” Obakin explained. “One of the hairiest moments occurred when we were almost run over by a road sweeper which simply didn’t see our small group huddled together, which just goes to show how vulnerable rough sleepers are.”
Prince William once said he does not want to be a royal “ornament” and spend his time cutting ribbons. He also added that he wants to make a difference in people’s lives.
The person who most likely influenced William’s focus was his mother, the late Princess Diana. She was a patron of Centrepoint before her 1997 death, and often brought William and his brother Harry to visit the homeless to see the other side of life.
“Poverty, mental illness, drug and alcohol dependency and family breakdown cause people to become and then stay homeless. I hope that by deepening my understanding of the issue, I can help do my bit to help the most vulnerable on our streets,” the Prince said.