Crown Prince Haakon visits the West Coast

Connecting for a greener, better tomorrow

Robert Strand

Photo: Brandon Sanchez Mejia/UC Berkeley
Surrounded by throngs of students, faculty, and reporters, Crown Prince Haakon shook hands with Professor Robert Strand, executive director of the Nordic Center, upon his arrival at the Universtiy of California, Berkeley, in San Francisco.

Eric Stavney
Pacific Northwest Correpsondent
The Norwegian American

The Norwegian king’s duties are said to be largely ceremonial. However, Norwegians have always looked to their king, His Royal Highness Harald V, for encouragement, leadership, and the voice that defines what it means to be Norwegian inside Norway and on the global stage.

As kings and queens get older, they gradually transfer duties to their heir, in this case, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon. He is the only son of King Harald and Queen Sonja.

Crown Prince Haakon has been very active, carrying out a variety of official engagements in Norway every year, focusing especially on entrepreneurship and innovation in Norwegian business, youth and diversity, and nature—with a special regard for the ocean and the issue of climate change.

The crown prince regularly travels abroad accompanied by Norwegian delegations, strengthening bilateral relations within trade and industry, science and culture.

This year, he visited San Francisco and Seattle, accompanied by Norway’s Minister of Trade and Industry Jan Christian Vestre, and Norway’s Minister of Digitalization and Public Governance Karianne Oldernes Tung.

haakon

Photo: Tom Hansen / Innovasjon Norge
Crown Prince Haakon enjoyed meeting with a group of students at U.C. Berkeley and posed for a photo with them.

Crown Prince Haakon chose San Francisco and Seattle as “coastal cities with a deep connection to the sea,” the “home of world-class universities and research institutions, and important partners for Norwegian companies in energy green transport and new technology.”

San Francisco

As a former student at the University of California, Berkeley, Crown Prince Haakon has a strong affinity for  the Bay Area and was pleased to be back.

In San Francisco, he initiated a business seminar of company experts exploring how technology and artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to achieve the goals of a translation and reduced climate footprint.

The crown princee also brought up the ethical, political, legal and health dilemmas that accompany digitalization (including AI) and pointed to the “ultimate question that has to follow every technological development:

haakon

Photo: Tom Hansen / Innovasjon Norge
While at U.C. Berkeley, Crown Prince Haakon, spoke at International House, a multicultural student residence there.

“Will this innovation improve people’s lives?” he asked. “We must all work very hard to make that answer yes,” he affirmed.

Crown Prince Haakon also took part in a discussion of electrification of the ferry traffic in the Bay Area, given Norway has already some proven experience in electrifying their ferry fleet.

Finally, he and his ministers met with Google’s director of sustainability to discuss AI and sustainability and visited Shack15, a gathering space dedicated to “entrepreneurship, community, and big ideas.”

Seattle

Upon his arrival at the National Nordic Museum in Seattle, Crown Prince Haakon was greeted by museum executive director and CEO Eric Nelson and a group of schoolchildren dressed in traditioal costumes, Norwegian flags and flowers in hand.

The crown prince opened a green maritime industries conference at the museum, recognizing the significant cooperation between Norway and Washington state.

haakon

Photo: Eric Stavney
Crown Prince Haakon was greeted by a group of children dressed in national costumes and carrying Norwegian flags upon his arrival at the National Nordic Musuem in Seattle.

This strong transatlantic cooperation is rooted in  the historical ties through the wave of Norwegian immigration to the Pacific Northwest. Immigrants played a large role in developing Pacific Northwest industries, such as fishing, logging, and maritime trade.

In his opening address, the crown prince told the story of Thea Foss, a Norwegian American who was one of the first women to start a business in the maritime sector on the West Coast.

“She became the founder of Foss Maritime—a company that has evolved into the largest tugboat company in the area, and which is now a respected shipping company based here in Seattle.”

He said her story shows “what Norway and the United States can achieve when we work together. (Read the full story of Thea Foss and the Tacoma museum dedicated to her legacy in the February 2024 issue of The Norwegian American.)

With this orientation toward the sea, he advocated addressing global warming through the decarbonization of shipping.

haakon

Photo: Eric Stavney
Crown Prince Haakon and his delegation toured the exhibits at the National Nordic Museum, which underline Norway’s strong connection to the sea going back to the Viking Age.

Maritime decarbonization refers to the use of alternate fuels and energy that do not produce the carbon dioxide that combustible fuels do. Most of the world’s fleet is propelled by diesel or gasoline and contributes about 3% of all the carbon produced globally each year.

Decarbonizing the maritime (ocean-based) sector will make a substantive reduction in the release of carbon dioxide.

“The spirit of innovation is alive and well and is more crucial than ever as the maritime industries take steps to achieve the green transition,” said the crown prince in his remarks at the musuem.

While in Seattle, the royal delegation also toured Amazon and Microsoft as leading global technology firms.

Finally, on their last day, the delegation traveled to the Museum of Flight where the crown prince met with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a strong advocate of addressing  climate change.

Anniken R. Krutnes,  Norway’s ambassador to the United States based in Washington, D.C., was also on hand to sign a joint statement on climate action, maritime commerce, offshore wind, space technology, trade, and corrections policy.

A meeting of leaders from the space and ocean  industries followed.

In total, Crown Prince Haakon and his ministers visited for only four days, but the visit  stimulated many productive discussions, generated a lot of excitement, and established a strong sense of joint commitment between the United States and Norway on sustainable green technologies.


About His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon

Crown Prince Haakon was born on July 20, 1973, and is heir to the throne of Norway. The crown prince married Miss Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby in Oslo Cathedral on Aug. 25, 2001.

There are three children in their family: Marius Borg Høiby, Her Royal Highness Princess Ingrid Alexandra and His Highness Prince Sverre Magnus. Crown Prince Haakon has one sister, Her Highness Princess Märtha Louise.

Official duties

Crown Prince Haakon carries out a variety of official engagements in Norway every year, focusing especially on entrepreneurship and innovation in Norwegian business, youth and diversity, and nature—with a special regard for the ocean and the issue of climate change.

In 2013, he initiated the SIKT conference. This has become an annual meeting place, where young leaders from all sectors of Norwegian society discuss the future of Norway.

Every year the crown prince travels abroad accompanied by Norwegian delegations, strengthening bilateral relations within trade and industry, science and culture.

The crown prince holds the rank of general in the Norwegian Armed Forces, admiral in the Norwegian Navy and general in the Norwegian Air Force.

International involvement

The crown prince is very active in the international sphere, where young leadership and the fight against poverty are issues particularly close to his heart.

In 2003, he was appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In this capacity he goes on an annual field visit to UNDP funded projects all over the world. In his work for UNDP,, Crown Prince Haakon puts special emphasis the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal number one—the fight to alleviate poverty—and number four —sustainable oceans—are at the core of his efforts.

In 2006, Crown Prince Haakon was one of three founders of the organization Global Dignity—a worldwide initiative to promote values-based leadership. He is actively engaged in The Crown Prince and Crown Princess’  Foundation, which identifies and supports projects for young people in Norway with the objective of strengthening youth leadership and integration.

The crown prince was a member of the Young Global Leaders network from its establishment in 2005 and up to 2010. Between 2010 and 2017, the crown prince served as a member of the Young Global Leaders Foundation Board. The network originated in the World Economic Forum.

Leisure interests

The crown prince has many leisure interests and is a passionate surfer and lover of music. He also enjoys skiing, especially “Telemark,” as well as kiting on both snow and water.

The crown prince and crown princess have an active family life and spend a great deal of time with their children enjoying outdoor recreational activities.

Education

Crown Prince Haakon holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California at Berkeley and a master’s degree in development studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The crown prince graduated from the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy in Bergen in 1995. His studies at Berkeley started in the autumn of 1996, and he received his bachelor’s degree in 1999. The following autumn, the crown prince was a trainee with Norway’s delegation to the United Nations,  and in 2001, he followed the foreign ministry’s trainee program for diplomats.

His master’s degree in development studies was completed in London in 2003, with a specialization in international trade and Africa.

Source: Det kongelige hoff, Oslo

Photo: Jørgen Gomnæs / Det kongelige hoff

This article originally appeared in the May 2024 issue ofThe Norwegian American.
This article originally appeared in the May 2024 issue ofThe Norwegian American.

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Eric Stavney

Eric Stavney is a graduate of the University of Washington Department of Scandinavian Studies and hosts the interviews and music podcast “Nordic on Tap” at NordicOnTap.podbean.com.