Source AP ©

Queen Sonja of Norway turns 70

Royals from across Europe gathered in southwestern Norway on Wednesday to celebrate Queen Sonja's 70th birthday.

The queens of the Netherlands and Spain, as well as members of the royal families of neighboring Denmark and Sweden, were invited to the festivities in Stavanger, the center of the Nordic country's oil industry.

The Norwegian queen arrived in the city on the royal yacht "Norge," accompanied by her husband King Harald V, Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Princess Martha Louise with her husband Ari Behn.

Sonja was greeted by a large welcoming committee of city officials and residents as she stepped ashore, wearing a bright red coat and a white skirt, Norwegian news agency NTB reported.

After a church service at the Stavanger Cathedral, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg presented an exhibition of children's drawings as the government's gift to the queen. The drawings will be displayed at a Stavanger museum as a tribute to the queen's enthusiasm for arts and culture.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia and Denmark's Queen Margrethe were among the European royals invited to luncheon at Stavanger's customs house.

Spain's Queen Sofia and Princess Elena were set to join later Wednesday for a cruise along Norway's southern coast.

The royals will make several stops along the coast before concluding the cruise Saturday at the Norwegian royal couple's holiday retreat, Maageroe.

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