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Lady Gudrun

'It's fun to be alive'

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"At least most of the time," added King Harald at the end of the royal banquet at Oslo's historic Akershus Fortress that topped off his 70th birthday on Wednesday. On Friday, the partying resumes with a long list of royal guests from all over Europe.


There were plenty of occasions to drink toasts to the king at his 70th birthday banquet Wednesday night. From left, Queen Sonja, King Harald, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Crown Princess Mette-Marit.


King Harald ended a long and chilly day of birthday celebrations with a royal banquet inside the historic Akershus Fortress that's perched above Oslo's inner harbour. The government hosted the party for 160 guests in the fortress and castle's Christian IV salon.


After several hours of toasting and dining on slices of akevitt-marinated moose meat and such seafood delicacies as lobster and, appropriately enough, king crab, the guest of honour stood to make some remarks of his own.


Turning 70, he said, really wasn't anything to brag about. "If you live long enough, it happens by itself," he said, to laughter from the guests. "That's why it's almost difficult to understand why anyone should get so much attention just because they've lived a few years."


But it's also no joke to turn 70, King Harald claimed. "It's like one of my colleagues said: 'One should rather be a few years younger when turning 70."


After a day filled with official congratulations, a special church service and a program in the park surrounding the palace, King Harald thanked all involved and quoted the late Norwegian author Knut Hamsun in offering thanks for being alive.


"Ja, Hamsun was right, it is fun to be alive, at least most of the time. For my own part, I think it's a privilege and a treasure to be king in Norway, and I'm glad I get to perform a lifelong service for the Norwegian people."


Royals set to pour into town

Dozens of royal colleagues are travelling to Oslo for a weekend of additional birthday celebrations and a gala banquet at the Royal Palace Saturday evening. The public is urged to gather on the palace grounds at 10:45pm on Saturday for what's being billed as a "surprise" for the king.


Among those expected in Oslo from Friday to Sunday: King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Madeleine of Sweden; King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain; Prince Henrik, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark; Prince Albert of Monaco and Prince Edward and Princess Anne of Great Britain.



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