Photo by Jørgen Gomnæs, Det kongelige hoff
Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway continue their three-day long journey through western Norway. On Wednesday this week, the King and Queen of Norway visited shipyards affected by corona outbreaks and spoke to a young returnee in one of the idyllic small towns of Hylestad.
Hyllestad is beautifully located at the entrance to the famous Sognefjord. The King and Queen disembarked Wednesday morning at the dock at the Havyard Leirvik shipyard in the municipality of Hylestad. Mayor Kjell Eide received the royal family and made a short presentation in the courtyard with the director. Members of the Royal Family had a conversation about the Hyllestad community related to business, restructuring, new opportunities for the shipbuilding industry and other industries, as well as the situation during the pandemic in the municipality.
Havyard Leirvik builds state-of-the-art ships and electric ferries and is the municipality’s largest company. Last fall, the more than 100-year-old shipyard was closed after a major corona outbreak. In the town of 1,500 inhabitants and shipyard workers, 700 people were quarantined after the epidemic. The royal family visited Havyard Leirvik on a trip to Sogn og Fjordane also in 2002.
Then the tour continued in the local park which is also an open-air museum in the largest quarries of the Viking Age and the Middle Ages in Northern Europe. The grindstone was something everyone had to have back then. The grinding wheels from this quarry were sold by the hundreds of thousands in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. Queen Sonja opened the historic park in 2002. Queen Sonja opened a new cultural trail on Wednesday, with the same hand mill as 19 years ago.
Tanja Kvellestad Akse, 23, moved to Hyllestad midway through her studies. She is a mother of a child and her boyfriend has a job in Hyllestad. On Wednesday, she met the royal family and told the King and Queen about her desire to return home and Tromsø’s Bachelor of Special Education degree, which she completed at her home in Hyllestad. Hyllestad is a small community and struggles with the same as many other small settlements and smaller municipalities, emigration. The population of the municipality has decreased since 1950. Young people settle in towns and cities, and only a few return after their studies.
The royal visit to western Norway will end today in the town of Florø.