The King and Queen visit Norrbotten County

The King greets 96-year-old Hildegard Gårding at Älvsbyn. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/Scanpix

On Friday 16 August, The King and Queen visited Norrbotten County.
16:55 At Stadsparken, the ceremony ended with a speech by Luleå Municipal Commissioner Karl Petersen and a song performed by Katarina Fallholm together with Piteå String Quartet. The ceremony then concluded with the National Anthem.
The King gives a speech at Stadsparken in Luleå. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer

The King gives a speech at Stadsparken in Luleå. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer

16:40 The King gave a speech, in which he said:
 
"From Älvsbyn, we travelled here to Luleå. Travelling in this way through the county provides an excellent opportunity to discover Sweden's cultural heritage. We have seen the county's landscape, with its traditional buildings and barns. I want to help draw attention to this unique rural landscape, and to help preserve it for the future. It is important that we preserve and protect our shared cultural heritage."

At Stadsparken. Photo: royalcourt.se

At Stadsparken. Photo: royalcourt.se

The King and Queen at Luleå's Stadsparken. Photo: royalcourt.se

The King and Queen at Luleå's Stadsparken. Photo: royalcourt.se

16:26 The King and Queen arrived at Luleå's Stadsparken, where they were received by Anna Degerman, Development Manager for Luleå and master of ceremonies for the programme at Stadsparken. After a song from Katarina Fallholm, the County Governor gave a speech in which he spoke about the day's visit.
An interview with County Governor Sven-Erik Österberg.
The county is the size of Austria. How do you decide on a one-day programme for such a large county?
That was the difficult part! I wanted to summarise the county's traditions, but it also felt important to provide an overview of where our county is today. You could say that it's been a mix of the old and the new.

How do you think the day has gone?
It's been good. The atmosphere has been relaxed and positive everywhere we've been. I've been very pleased with The King and Queen's visit to the county. There's been something of a party spirit, and it's important not to underestimate that — it's been a boost for many people. I've also been impressed that The King and Queen have taken the time to speak with so many of our county's residents along the way, despite being pressed for time.

15:35 The King and Queen arrived at Luleå University of Technology's auditorium. Vice-Chancellor Johan Sterte explained that the university has four campuses, and attracts students from all over the world. The university was founded in 1971, and has 19,000 students and 1,600 employees. There are 69 research subjects, and the focus areas for research include social structure, the mining of the future, sustainable transport, and smart machinery and materials. Professor of Energy Science Rikard Gebart then spoke about his field of research within energy, including a project to provide Sweden with a fossil fuel independent transport system by using forest raw materials. He also explained about LTU Green Fuel's pilot plant which The King opened in 2009, and where a number of experiments on green fuels are being carried out.

The King and Queen are guided around the church at Luleå Gammelstad by Kjell Lundholm. Photo: royalcourt.se

The King and Queen are guided around the church at Luleå Gammelstad by Kjell Lundholm. Photo: royalcourt.se

14:45 Outside the church, former County Archivist Kjell Lundholm welcomed The King and Queen and spoke about the history of the church. The parish had grown rich as a result of fishing, furs and trading, and a large church was therefore built in the 15th century. The church town, consisting of 408 cottages divided up into 553 small rooms, is situated around the church. Gammelstad Church Town, with its continued church town tradition, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 7 December 1996. Inside the church, Kjell Lundholm spoke about the altar screen which, at the time it was made, cost more than the one in Stockholm Cathedral. It was made in Antwerp in 1525.
A historical tour along Gamla Hamngatan and up to Gammelstad Church. Photo: royalcourt.se

A historical tour along Gamla Hamngatan and up to Gammelstad Church. Photo: royalcourt.se

14:36 The King and Queen arrived at the Luleå Gammelstad.
 
14:20 Chairman of the Municipal Executive Board Karl Petersen spoke about Luleå's history and how the town was moved in the mid-17th century. Because of rising land levels, the municipality is growing by two square kilometres every year. The steelworks and the university have been two milestones for the town, as was Luleå Culture Centre, opened in 2007. He concluded by welcoming the visitors to Luleå Municipality, as the coach carrying The King and Queen arrived.
Rural landscape. Photo: royalcourt.se

Rural landscape. Photo: royalcourt.se

14:11 Lunch consisted of a starter of whitefish roe on flatbread, a main course of elk stew with almond potatoes and lingonberry chutney, and a desert of white chocolate cream with rhubarb and strawberries. After lunch, The King and Queen continued towards Luleå. On the coach, the County Governor spoke about developments within the county. Just as in other counties, outward migration and demographics are the main challenges. Some municipalities are now experiencing population growth. Sven-Erik Österberg then described the cultural landscape, with its unique barns. The county administrative board provides grants to repair these barns so that they can be preserved for future generations. Further north in the county there are hay barns where bog hay-making is still carried out to preserve knowledge and traditions. Sven-Erik Österberg concluded his description of today's Norrbotten by speaking about the project to relocate the town of Kiruna.
En route to Luleå. Photo: royalcourt.se

En route to Luleå. Photo: royalcourt.se

12:20 Lunch was served at Älvsby Church parish house.
At Älvsby Church. Photo: royalcourt.se

At Älvsby Church. Photo: royalcourt.se

12:10 The King and Queen visited Älvsby Church.
Crown Prince Gustav VI Adolf and Princess Louise sign the Royal Stone in 1927.

Crown Prince Gustav VI Adolf and Princess Louise sign the Royal Stone in 1927.

11:44 A choir sang to The King and Queen outside Älvsby Church. Rector Tomas Lång then welcomed the visitors to Kyrkmalmen and the Royal Stone, which had been signed by Crown Prince Gustav VI Adolf and Princess Louise in 1927. Rev. Lång explained that King Gustav III had decided in the early 1780s that the church should be built, but construction did not begin until 30 years later.
Ingegerd Granström shows pictures from The King and Queen's previous visit to Storforsen. Photo: royalcourt.se

Ingegerd Granström shows pictures from The King and Queen's previous visit to Storforsen. Photo: royalcourt.se

11:36 The King and Queen arrived at Älvsbyn.
 
11:11 Annika Fredriksson spoke about tourism in the county. The county covers 25% of Sweden's surface area, and the tourism industry is doing well in the region. When industry and business thrive, so too does tourism, with visitor numbers from across Europe increasing during the winter season in particular. The UN has noted a positive trend for tourism, growing at 3% each year. Many Norwegian visitors come during the summer, with more German and British tourists coming during the winter. Last year, tourism contributed SEK 100 billion in tax revenue to the Swedish treasury. By comparison, mining and steel contributed SEK 65 billion. Sweden is in 19th place in the list of countries with the highest levels of income from tourism. A typical tourist in the summertime comes for sun and warmth, with the coastline attracting many visitors with its sunshine and long sandy beaches.
 
11:07 On board the coach to Älvsbyn, Helena Öhlund continued to speak about Älvsbyn, including the fact that the municipality hopes a copper mine — which Bolliden is currently planning for — will be opened. A decision on mining operations will be made in 2015.
10:57 Annika Fredriksson, CEO of Swedish Lappland, welcomed The King and Queen to Storforsen Rapids, and explained that the rapids are the largest in Europe, with a drop of 82 metres.
 
10:52 The King and Queen arrived at Storforsen Rapids.
 
10:45 On board the coach to Storforsen Rapids, Municipal Commissioner Helena Öhlund welcomed the visitors to Älvsbyn. She described the Pite River, which runs through the entire municipality and is 100 kilometres long. The previous royal visit was in 1927, when Crown Prince Gustaf VI Adolf visited the municipality. The municipality's biggest businesses are the bread company Polarbröd and the modular home manufacturer Älvsbyhus. Älvsbyn has recently been named Sweden's most equal business municipality.
 
10:19 At a nearby conference room, a short film about the business was shown. The customers are car manufacturers from around the world who want to test winter handling properties in a closed environment, with access to large workshops. Arctic Falls is part of the Swedish Proving Ground Association, made up of ten car testing companies. Sweden has 30% of the global car testing market. Car testing first began in Norrland during the 1970s, when car manufacturers wanted to test their vehicles in a cold setting. This came about in connection with the development of ABS brakes, for which testing was required. Today, it is primarily the development of alternative fuels that drives the testing market.
Jonas Jarlar, CEO of Arctic Falls AB, explains that the facility shown on the map is five hectares in size, and is completely shielded from view. Photo: royalcourt.se

Jonas Jarlar, CEO of Arctic Falls AB, explains that the facility shown on the map is five hectares in size, and is completely shielded from view. Photo: royalcourt.se

10:04 The King and Queen arrived at the Arctic Falls car testing facility, where they were welcomed by CEO Jonas Jarlar. The company was founded in the 1980s, and now operates five testing facilities. It is well booked from November to April, with 35 to 40 people working here during the high season. Recently, there has also been something of an increase in summertime operations, with tyres being tested.
The welcoming committee, Elias and Aron, at Vidsel Air Base. Photo: royalcourt.se

The welcoming committee, Elias and Aron, at Vidsel Air Base. Photo: royalcourt.se

09:33 At Vidsel Air Base, The King and Queen were met by Helena Öhlund, Municipal Commissioner for Älvsbyn, Paulina Nordin, Deputy Test Site Manager, Johan Antti, County Director of Norrbotten County, and Hans Groth, Programme Director for Norrbotten County Administrative Board.
 
08:42 County Governor Sven-Erik Österberg welcomed The King and Queen to Norrbotten County and spoke about the programme for the day.
 

The programme for The King and Queen's visit on Friday 16 August.


09:30 The King and Queen arrive at Vidsel Air Base, and are welcomed to Norrbotten County by County Governor Sven-Erik Österberg.
10:05 The King and Queen visit the Arctic Falls car testing facility at Vitberget.
10:50 The King and Queen visit Storforsen Rapids.
11:45 The King and Queen arrive at Älvsbyn and walk to Kyrkmalmen.
12:15 Lunch at Älvsby Church parish house.
14:30 The King and Queen arrive at Gammelstad in Luleå and take a historical walk along Gamla Hamngatan up to Gammelstad Church.
15:30 The King and Queen visit Luleå University of Technology.
16:15 The King and Queen arrive at Stadsparken. The King gives a speech.

The day in Norrbotten County concludes with dinner hosted by the County Governor at the County Governor's official residence.

County visits 2013


In connection with The King's 40th jubilee, The King and Queen will be visiting all of Sweden's 21 counties during the year.
 
Find out more about the county visits hereopens in new window.