Victoria & Daniel Stop by Finland
Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel added another place to their growing list of official visits since emerging from their summer honeymoon. This time, they visited neighboring Finland for two days – arriving in Helsinki Monday. Victoria herself has been to the country many times due to Finland’s close Swedish ties.
KIMMO MANTYLA/AFP/Getty Images
On Monday morning, the couple arrived at the presidential palace to meet with Finnish President Tarja Halonen and her husband, Dr. Pentti Arajärvi.
“It feels very nice to have Victoria and Daniel here,” said the President. “We here in Finland love Sweden. And we love you.” Halonen was one of the numerous guests at the couple’s June wedding.
The President then sat down with the royals for some morning coffee with her two cats.
Later, Victoria and Daniel traveled for one hour to the city of Lahti. Thousands of locals greeted the royals with Swedish flags and cheers. While Victoria was greeting the students, one video journalist asked her what she liked most about Finland. She answered by spreading her arms wide and smiling broadly, “you!” meaning, all of the Finnish people.
The Crown Princess also admitted she was caught of guard by how many people turned up to see her and her husband – whom the Swedish media noted was welcomed like a King. However, Victoria added she was touched by the turnout.
When they then went to a local high school, the couple took part with the students in making smoothies by the recipe of a chef from Åland Island. Victoria was a bit nervous participating because of her white dress, but gladly played along.
Even Prince Daniel had fun. Students at the high school reported that he was telling jokes and playfully hogging the bananas from his wife so she wouldn’t get any.
That evening, Victoria and Daniel returned to Helsinki for a dinner with President Halonen. The Crown Princess gave a speech where she said Finland was “almost home” to her.
“It is not strange for me to be in Finland,” she said. ” ‘Almost’ – because of course Finland is an independent and proud of its own
nation to choose its destiny – and who made tremendous sacrifices to win and defend its independence.”
” ‘Home’ – because there is so much that unites and is common in our countries. ‘Home’ because I always met with such warmth and such welcome here in Finland.”
With that, she made a toast.
Tuesday, the newlyweds were welcomed at Helsinki City Hall by Mayor Jussi Pajunen. There, Victoria made another speech – and a gaffe! When she greeted the thousands of people from the City Hall balcony, she said, “Dear Helsingborg people” – which is a town in Sweden!
Laughing, Victoria corrected herself by saying “Dear Helsingfors people” – which is the Swedish word for Helsinki.
After City Hall, she and Prince Daniel went to Happi Youth Center and the opening of a seminar on the future of Finnish-Swedish business at the Hanasaari Swedish-Finnish Cultural Center.
With that, the couple returned to Sweden. They have one more official visit to make before they can get some rest.
Sources: Svensk Damtidning, The Royal Forums, Sweden Abroad
Swedish Royal Family Mark Bicentenary of Finnish Separation
The Swedish Royals are overseeing the 200 year celebration of Finland’s secession from Sweden. King Carl XVI Gustaf and Finnish President Tarja Halonen held a gala in Stockholm on Thursday to formally mark the occasion.
The King escorted Halonen to the event, while his wife, Queen Silvia behind them with Finland’s speaker of parliament Sauli Niinisto. Crown Princess Victoria was in attendance, wearing a gown she wore at a Nobel Prize dinner some years before. Her younger sister, Princess Madeleine was also there. Brother Prince Carl Philip was not.
Also in attendance was Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and his Finnish counterpart Matti Vanhanen. Business and cultural representatives of both countries were at the gala too.
“We usually do not celebrate divorces, but today we do,” said Sauli Niinisto during the gala.
It was in the defeat of the war in 1809 that Finland was lost by Sweden and instead became a Russian Grand Duchy. The defeat also was the opening for a Swedish coup d’etat when the military displaced the King Gustav IV Adolf. A new royal house and system of government was installed.
A major turning point for Swedish history indeed, but one guest at the gala noted it does go unnoticed.
“In Finland, a country with a more dramatic history than Sweden, the memory is more alive. In Sweden, the large oblivion prevails”, Horace Engdahl, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, remarked in his oration.
“1809 is an important date in our history, but for most people the year do not ring any bells,” he said according to news agency TT.
For Sweden, the September 1809 peace treaty with Russia meant the loss of a third of its territory and a fourth of the population – a traumatic event.
For Finland, the events of 1809 are more easily remembered since Finland became an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire, and was to declare independence in 1917, he said.
“Sweden and Finland before 1809 were not a pair of siblings, but rather Siamese twins,” said Engdahl.
Prior to 1809, Finland and Sweden were in many aspects regarded as one entity for over 600 years, sharing joint administration, legislation and economy, even though the majority of the inhabitants in the eastern part – what is Finland today – spoke Finnish.
Finland still has two official languages – Finnish and Swedish – and some 5-6 per cent of the population of 5.3 million have Swedish as their mother tongue.
Swedish PM Reinfeldt said the year also offered a chance to ‘highlight 200 years of good cooperation, especially in recent years.’
Since 1995, both Nordic neighbours are members of the European Union, and cooperate closely on numerous issues – but compete strongly in sports.
Finnish President Visits Luxembourg
Finland’s president, Tarja Halonen is on a three day visit of Luxembourg. She was invited by Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Theresa, and it was the Grand Ducal couple she first met upon arriving in the tiny Grand Duchy.
After the formal meeting, Halonen laid a wreath at the National Solidarity Monument, in the presence of Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg’s Minister for Defence, Jean-Louis Schiltz, and the Head of Staff of the Luxembourg Army, General Gaston Reinig.
In the afternoon, Halonen was welcomed by Luxembourg city mayor, Paul Helminger, and they visited the Finnish Christmas Market on Place Guillaume.
Later, the Finnish president returned to the Grand Ducal Palace where she met with the President of Luxembourg’s Chamber of Deputies, Lucien Weiler, as well as Prime Minister Juncker and Deputy Prime-Minister, Jean Asselborn.
The day ended with a gala dinner at the Palace in honor of the President of Finland.
Crown Princess Victoria Awards Finnish President
The heir to the Swedish throne gave to Finland’s president Tanja Halonen, the Baltic Leadership award – as part of the World Wildlife Fund.
Halonen was honored for her work on preserving the Baltic Sea. She was recognized for her “persistent efforts to unite groups and encourage cross-border discussions on the future of the Baltic Sea.”
Crown Princess Victoria gave Halonen the award at the Swedish embassy in Stockholm. Victoria has been a busy woman lately. Just last week, she gave out two awards during World Water Week.