King Harald’s New Year’s speech 2023
King Harald brings Norwegians around the world a message of hope in his traditional New Year’s Eve speech from the Royal Palace
“Invisible hands guide us,” writes Jon Fosse, our own Nobel Prize laureate in literature, in one of his poems.
These invisible hands can be very different:
Love, friendship, a faith in God, will, hope.
We all need some invisible hands. And many of us need them a little extra now.
Both here at home and in the world around us. This evening, I want to encourage you to light some candles.
A candle for all those who are suffering in wars and conflicts. A candle for people we miss.
And a candle for hope.
Hope for a better world may be possible, a world where everyone can live in freedom and peace.
Hope that that which is difficult in our lives may become easier to live with.
For me, there is a defiant hope in the one single word. We.
We is a little, but spacious and beautiful word.
For we embraces us all.
It is the opposite of us and them.
It is the opposite of boxing each other in with prejudice.
Together, we contribute to creating a good environment at school, at the workplace, and in our local environment.
Together, we have agreed that in Norway we must take care of each other, so that we all have the opportunity to both give and receive during the course of our lives.
Together, we create an understanding of right and wrong, so that we can behave properly toward one other and safeguard the trust between us.
To create this society for real, we must:
Speak the truth about reality.
I have a great belief in listening. Listening brings the hope of a society with a place for everyone.
Because something a little magical happens when we actually listen to one another.
We are seen.
We stand up tall.
It is almost too simple and good to be true! And it is something we are all capable of.
It worries me that some young people as well as older people in Norway today do not feel they are seen, understood, and included. I fear it will create anger and frustration that could harm our society of common good.
To each and every one of you I would like to say:
I don’t know what it is like to be you. But I would very much like to understand.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that you are a full human being for better or worse, like everyone else—especially when others forget to remind you of this.
Accept help when you need it.
And help others when you can.
I hope you feel that invisible hands are guiding you. Maybe not always.
But that you have something or someone that gives you strength and hope.
Remember that you have a voice. Use it when you can!
Listening goes hand in hand with speaking truthfully about what has happened and acknowledging each other’s reality.
It was also a prerequisite for the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was put forth its findings this past summer.
Shocking stories were told about the injustices committed against the Sámi, Kvens, and Forest Finns through the brutal Norwegianization policy, which lasted from around 1850 until well into our own time.
People were deprived of their language, their culture, their self-confidence, and their identity.
It even cost some of them their lives.
And all this was done in the name of nation-building—in a Norway that at that time needed to build self-confidence as a nation after 400 years of Danish rule.
Norwegianization became a loss for us all.
A loss of a cultural wealth that belonged—indeed belongs—in our own country.
Seeing with open eyes what has actually happened is crucial for the reconciliation work that must now follow in the wake of this important report.
This also applies to other relationships in life—and to conflicts in the world around us.
We must acknowledge what has happened, what cannot be changed.
And what we have to build upon together—despite everything.
I believe that listening and speaking honestly are essential for a healthy society.
And then we must have that difficult patience.
I have lived long enough to have seen that things take time.
Both in society and between people—and in ourselves.
Most things of lasting value have no quick fix.
It has taken us generations to build the society we know today as ours, which we are proud of and feel at home in.
A foundation of community building has to do with how equipped we are as a people and a nation to face dangers and threats. Both interior and exterior.
Our most important defense is a robust and persistent people who can take a beating.
We cannot take peace and freedom, resources, and public benefits for granted.
We must stand guard!
Norway’s preparedness in the face of adversity is, when it comes down to it, the sum of each individual’s readiness.
We are constantly building on this positive power through our shared goodwill.
Through strong local communities.
By standing up for each other in the belief that there is a common good.
This give me great hope, for this is something that we can all be a part of.
With both invisible and active hands.
But then there are areas where the last thing we need is more patience.
Many young people write to me expressing their concern that not enough is being done to take care of nature and our planet. Young people are giving up on adults who aren’t taking strong enough action and not acting fast enough. I share their concern and their impatience. The hope is that the new goals set by the world’s leaders will be followed by action.
We need everyone’s impatience before time runs out for us.
I cannot express this strongly enough.
When it is cold and dark, it is important to remember all of the warmth, the strength, and the good will that we share with each other in our daily lives.
It is natural for us to help one another. To give comfort. To share.
We must nurture this good spark within ourselves.
For this is us, this is we.
My New Year’s hope is that we will be the invisible hands that guide one other.
Happy New Year!
Translated by Lori Ann Reinhall