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4. Februar 2004  
Royal geography gaffe spoils debut

HaakonFor the first time in Norwegian history, a crown prince regent received a foreign head of state on Tuesday. Crown Prince Haakon has been an exemplary stand-in for King Harald during his illness, but the welcoming speech at last night's gala dinner featured an embarrassing error.

At the palace dinner for Portugal's president Jorge Sampaio and his wife Maria Jos Ritta, Crown Prince Regent Haakon got his bearings wrong in his address to the honored guests.

"Norway and Portugal are on their own edge of Europe. You are placed on the Mediterranean's warm beaches, we are as far north as it is possible to be," the crown prince regent said.

It did not take long before readers and media reacted to the royal displacement of Portugal from its warm but true location on the Atlantic Ocean.

The official speech was also posted on the Internet, where it also exasperated soccer fans, who were quick to point out that a reference to Portugal's football legend Eusebio misspelled his name.

The palace's information section would not divulge the speechwriter responsible for the blunders, and told newspaper VG that they apologized for the error, and that the meaning was clearly that Portugal lies far to the south, at the mouth of the Mediterranean.

Author Jon Michelet, who has hosted a TV show testing geography knowledge, was shocked.

"This isn't just amusing. It is in fact terribly stupid and disrespectful of both the royal court and the government - which is responsible for the speech," Michelet told VG.

Via Aftenposten News in English.


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