“Norwegians are girls who love girls, boys who love boys, and boys and girls who love each other. Norwegians believe in God, Allah, everything and nothing.”
Last week, Norwegian King Harald V gave one of the most powerful speeches ever heard in support of racial diversity, refugees, religious tolerance and LGBT rights.
Addressing 1,500 guests gathered at a garden party outside the Royal Palace in Oslo, the 79-year-old monarch articulated the concept of the place we call home in a world that’s growing more diverse every day. For the cancer survivor, “home” transcends borders.
“Norwegians are also immigrants from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Poland, Sweden, Somalia and Syria,” said Harald V. “It is not always easy to say where we come from, to which nationality we belong. Home is where the heart is. That cannot always be placed within country borders.”
Unequivocally backing gay rights, Harald V said, “Norwegians are girls who love girls, boys who love boys, and boys and girls who love each other.”
On religious tolerance, Harald V said, “Norwegians believe in God, Allah, everything and nothing… In other words: you are Norway. We are Norway”.
Harald V’s impassioned speech has so far been viewed 3,2 million times on Facebook.
The Norwegian king’s message is a rebuke to the rising tide of right wing and anti-immigration rhetoric engulfing Europe and most of the west.
The Brexit vote was partly fueled by xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment. Last week, Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) came third behind the Social Democrats (SPD) and the anti-refugee right wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in a regional election. France’s Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Front National, will likely be a force to reckon with during that country’s 2017 presidential elections.
Meanwhile, U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s candidacy is based on “a Republican political strategy that stoked white racial resentment to win elections.” The real estate billionaire once accused Mexican immigrants of “bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and their rapists” to the US. He has proposed to impose a blanket ban on Muslims entering the US.
Here’s the full text of Harald V’s awesome speech:
Prime Minister, the Parliament’s vice president, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, dear all,
We have for several years traveled around most of the country. Now it is very nice to be [hosting] representatives form all over Norway. A warm welcome to al of you.
You who are gathered here represent the [breadth] of what Norway is today. So what is Norway? Norway is high mountains and deep fjords. It is plains, skerries, islands and islets. It is fertile fields and gentle hills. The sea hits the country from the north, west, and south. Norway is midnight sun and polar nights. It is both hath and mild winters. Warm and cold summers. Norway is outstretched and scattered inhabited. But Norway is above all people.
Norwegians come from the north of Norway, from the middle, from the south and from all the other regions. Norwegians have also immigrated from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Poland, Sweden, Somalia and Syria. My grandparents immigrated from Denmark and England 110 years ago.
It is not always easy to say where we come from, to which nationality we belong. Home is where the heart is. That cannot always be placed within country borders. Norwegians are young and old, tall and short, able-bodied and wheelchair users. An increasing number are more than 100 years old.
Norwegians are rich, poor, and in between. Norwegians like football and handball. They climb mountains and they sail, while others prefer the couch. Some have good self-esteem, while other struggle to believe they are good enough as they are.
Norwegians work in shops, in hospitals, on oil platforms. Norwegians work for us all to be safe. They work to keep the country clean of garbage, and search for new solutions for a green future. Norwegians cultivate the soil and are fishing. Norwegians research and teach. Norwegians are engaged youth and experienced elderly. Norwegians are single, divorced, families with children and old married couples.
Norwegians are girls who love girls, boys who love boys, and girls and boys who love each other. Norwegians believe in God, Allah, everything and nothing. Norwegians like [musical artists] Grieg, Kygo, Hellbilies, and Kari Bremnes.
In other words: You are Norway. We are Norway. When we sing “Yes we love this country,” we have to remember that we also sing about each other. It is we who constitute the country. Therefore, the national anthem is also a declaration of love to the Norwegian people.
My biggest hope for Norway is that we will manage to take care of each other. That we can build this country further on trust, [solidarity], and generosity. That we can know that we — despite our differences — are one people. That Norway is one.
Once again, a warm welcome to you all. I hope we will have a pleasant time together. Thank you.
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