A greeting from Ambassador Krutnes

Gratulerer med dagenl.

Anniken Ramberg Krutnes

Photo: Pontus Höök
Anniken Ramberg Krutnes has served as Norway’s ambassador to the United States since 2020.

Anniken Ramberg Krutnes
Norway’s Ambassador to the United States

Dear friends,

It’s that time of year again—Syttende Mai, or Norway’s National Day!

On May 17, Norwegians put on their traditional bunad folk costumes, join their loved ones for a delicious breakfast of smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, and other goodies, and watch schoolchildren march proudly in their hometown’s parade. Maybe some of you will participate in similar celebrations in the United States!

But the holiday isn’t just about outfits and ice cream. Ultimately, it’s a chance to remember how Norway gained its independence and to honor the democracy in which we are so privileged to live.

For more than 450 years, Norway was ruled by Denmark. That didn’t change until 210 years ago, at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, when the Treaty of Kiel determined that Norway would be ceded to Sweden. Unable to accept this, on May 17, 1814, 112 Norwegians met at Eidsvoll, located 40 miles north of Oslo, to take matters into their own hands.

Together, they drafted the Grunnlov—the Norwegian Constitution. Today, it is one of the oldest constitutions in the world and the second-oldest to have been in continuous use since its adoption. (The oldest, of course, is the U.S. Constitution, which served as a source of inspiration for ours.)

The original Grunnlov set the foundation for a democratic society that based itself on human rights, the separation of powers, and its own sovereignty. While independence from Sweden did not come immediately after its drafting, the Swedish Crown Prince Carl Johan did end up permitting Norwegians to use the principles laid out in it to establish their own government.

True independence finally arrived in 1905, and the Grunnlov continued its work from there as the backbone of Norwegian society.

If you’re American, some elements of this story might sound familiar. Part of the strength of our countries’ friendship comes from the fact that we both had to work hard for our independence, and we are both staunch defenders of the freedoms that can only be found in a democratic society. We have the liberty to live as we choose, to speak out against injustice when we see it, to be given due process under the law, and to raise families and live in peace without fear of state-sanctioned violence or retaliation.

Of course, we must never take these freedoms for granted. To name just one example, Ukraine is now in its third year of working to repel Russia’s illegal invasion, and security concerns have increased across Europe.

While NATO allies have responded to Russia’s aggression with strong support for Ukraine—especially from our American friends—the battle is far from over, and we must continue to aid Ukrainians’ struggle for as long as it takes. Freedom never comes for free. It always takes hard work to maintain.

This May 17, I hope you spend some time thinking about the gift of a democratic society and what it means to you. And I hope you enjoy the weather, food, and traditions that so many of us associate with this time of year. Gratulerer med dagen!

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

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Anniken Krutnes

Anniken Ramberg Krutnes is Norway’s ambassador to the United States. An expert in security policy, law of the sea and Arctic issues, she has served with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs since beginning as a trainee in 1994. In her previous position with the ministry, she was deputy director general of the Department of Security Policy. Before that, she was Norway’s ambassador for Arctic and Antarctic Affairs. She has had postings in several European countries, including ambassadorships of the Netherlands and Luxembourg. She was recently a member of the U.N. Group of Governmental Experts on Advancing Responsible State Behavior in Cyberspace in the Context of International Security. She holds a Master of Law from the University of Oslo and a Master of Science in Economics and Administration from the Norwegian School of Economics, and she has also studied international management at Universittá Luigi Bocconi in Milan, Italy. She is married and has three adult children.