Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja attended the 10 December ceremony to mark the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010 to Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo.
Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China. Liu Xiaobo is currently in confinement in China and was unable to accept the award in person. Nor were any of his close relatives able to be present to receive the award on his behalf. The laureate was therefore represented by an empty chair on the dais.
Singer Marita Kvarving Søberg opened the ceremony with an interpretation of “Solveig’s Song” by Edvard Grieg, accompanied by pianist Håvard Gimse.
In his speech, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjørn Jagland explained why the committee decided to award the prize to Liu Xiaobo this year:
„Your Majesties, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010 to Liu Xiaobo for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has long believed that there is a close connection between human rights and peace. Such rights are a prerequisite for the "fraternity between nations" of which Alfred Nobel wrote in his will.“
Mr Jagland concluded his speech with a symbolic presentation of the award by placing the Nobel Peace Prize medal and diploma on the empty chair which Liu Xiaobo would have occupied.
Mr Jagland’s speech was followed by a performance by Chinese-American violinist Lynn Chang.
Actress Liv Ullmann read the speech Liu Xiaobo gave in his defence at his trial on 23 September 2009 – “I Have No Enemies”. Two days after the trial he was sentenced to 11 years in prison. The ceremony concluded with traditional Norwegian songs sung by the children’s choir of the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet.
On the evening of 10 December, King Harald and Queen Sonja attended the traditional Nobel Banquet at the Grand Hotel in Oslo in honour of the laureate. Their Majesties also attended the annual Nobel Peace Prize Concert held at Oslo Spektrum on 11 December.