On Tuesday 24 August, The King and Queen visited Västernorrland County to highlight initiatives being carried out in connection with the Covid-19 pandemic.
The King and Queen were welcomed to the county and to the County Governor's official residence in Härnösand by County Governor Berit Högman. At the official residence, the County Governor, together with County Director Daniel Gustafsson, Director of Region Västernorrland Åsa Bellander and Director of Härnösand Municipality Lars Liljedahl, spoke about how the pandemic has affected Västernorrland, and about the resulting challenges and valuable lessons.
After the introductory meeting at the official residence, The King and Queen visited Koltrasten care home where they were welcomed by Unit Manager Frida Norberg.
Staff at the care home spoke about operations and how the challenges of the pandemic have affected their work and the residents.
One of the subjects discussed during the visit was how the pandemic has affected the county's cultural organisations. Norrland's dance company Norrdans described how they have adapted during the pandemic and have offered cultural events in formats that are as Covid-safe as possible, including performances at homes for the elderly.
The King and Queen then visited the Castor restaurant, where they were welcomed by Stellan Jakobsson, vocational programme director at Härnösand Upper Secondary School.
Lunch began with the programme director, teachers and students describing how the pandemic has affected the school, student health work during the pandemic and ensuring that the students have a positive outlook.
Lunch was then served, having been prepared by students from year 3 of the food programme.
After lunch, The King and Queen visited Härnösand's industry unit where Director of Härnösand Municipality Lars Liljedahl, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise's Regional Manager Anna Hedensjö Johansson and Härnösand Municipality's Head of Business Development Petra Forsström talked about how the pandemic has affected the county's industry and the municipality's various support initiatives for businesses.
Representatives from three companies and three industries then shared their perspectives on the pandemic. The following took part:
The day concluded at Y:et, near Midlanda Airport in Timrå Municipality. The visit began with a discussion between Christina Thonman (Operational Manager at Söråker Folkets Hus), Anders Fällström (Chancellor of Mid Sweden University) and Annelie Ringbro (Unit Manager at Timrå Competence Centre) about the consequences of the pandemic in terms of integration, skills development and job creation.
The King and Queen then visited an exhibition about the significance of having a job, at which six of the people presented in the exhibition shared their stories. The participants were:
Chair of the Social Services Committee Maritza Villanueva Contreras and Chair of Timrå Municipal Executive Board Stefan Dahlin concluded by thanking The King and Queen for their visit.
Y:et is an enormous sculpture by artist Bengt Lindström. It was unveiled on 3 September 1995 and represents the letter Y, the county letter for Västernorrland County. It is made from 80 millimetre thick sprayed concrete, stands 30.5 metres tall and weighs 700 tonnes. The paint alone weighs 3,000 kg.
Y:et is located in Timrå Municipality, near the E4 motorway and Midlanda Airport.
The space in front of Y:et currently features an outdoor exhibition about the significance of having a job, the result of an integration project in Timrå Municipality. The exhibition features interviews with and portraits of 12 people from around the world who now live and work in Timrå.
In connection with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, members of the Royal Family will be visiting Sweden's 21 counties at the initiative of HM The King.
The first four visits took place in autumn 2020, but subsequent visits were postponed due to the second wave of the pandemic. The visit to Kalmar marked the resumption of visits to Sweden's counties during autumn 2021.
Through these visits, The King hopes to show the Royal Family's solidarity with those who have been affected and to highlight local initiatives within different sectors of society.
All visits will be adapted in view of the ongoing pandemic, and will be carried out in accordance with the Public Health Agency of Sweden's recommendations.