King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway with the President of Finland and his wife at the start of the State Visit in Helsinki on September 6th 2016
(photo TPKanslia Twitter)
Summer must be over, the State Visits have started. As September gets into full swing, King Harald and Queen Sonja are in Finland for a three day tour - the third time they have made a State Visit to their country in their twenty five year reign.
Helsinki is quite familiar to this royal couple who arrived there on September 5th ahead of the official start the following day. And the pattern of that first proper day was pretty familiar too, kicking off with an official welcome by Finland's President, Sauli Niinisto and his wife, Jenni Haukio.
There was an inspection of the guard, the national anthems were played and then it was off to the Presidential Palace for talks, gift giving and a press call. There was even the chance to make a balcony appearance, a major moment in any royal state visit.
Velkommen til Finland DD.MM. Kong Harald og Dronning Sonja! #statsbesøk #norge pic.twitter.com/gFHyI62j8C— TPKanslia (@TPKanslia) September 6, 2016
The King and Queen of Norway then headed off for meetings with politicians and dignitaries including the Parliament's President, Talman Maria Lohela. Lunchtime was spent at Helsinki Town Hall where they were hosted by the city's mayor, Mari Puoskari. Their meeting with Finland's Prime Minister, Juha Sipila, came later in the day. In the afternoon, King Harald and Queen Sonja visited Finland's war memorial where they laid a wreath.
The evening finished with that staple of State Visits - the Gala Banquet. It was given by President Niinisto at the Presidential Palace.
Harald gave a speech, Queen Sonja wore diamonds and pearls and we got lots of glitz and glamour to end the beginning of the first State Visit of this autumn. There's plenty more to come from Harald and Sonja on this visit to Finland, which runs until September 9th. Welcome to State Visit season, mark two.