Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway are waving from the balcony of the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on June 1, 2017. Picture: Matti Porre / The Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

On Thursday morning, after the official reception ceremony at the Presidential Palace, it started raining. Around 3,000 people, according to the police, observed when the Nordic heads of state shook hands and later appeared on the balcony of the palace to wave to the crowd that stood behind the iron fences at the Market Square. The royal conglomerate included Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway, and it was accompanied by President Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson of Iceland and his spouse, Eliza Jean Reid. They arrived in Finland to celebrate the centenary of Finland’s independence.

The rain reportedly stopped just before the Finnish presidential couple and their guests walked from the Presidential Palace to the City Hall, located a few buildings away.

There, after a formal lunch, hosted by the incoming mayor, Jan Vapaavuori, the heads of state visited the Hanasaari Swedish-Finnish Cultural Centre for more ceremonies and speeches.

President Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson and his spouse, Eliza Jean Reid, of Iceland and King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden are observing the crowd of about 3,000. Picture: Matti Porre / The Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

In his speech, President Sauli Niinistö said that there are three pillars that have formed the Nordic welfare state.

The first: Lutheranism. Through Lutheranism, the government and church have found a mutual symbiosis. The historical disputes between the church and the government that have tortured Central Europe were almost absent in the Nordic countries. This, in turn, has strengthened the government and added on the ability to a systematic development of economy and societies.

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The second pillar: literacy. The church advocated the reading of the Bible at home and this as a side effect created the basis for a thinking society. Through literacy, a curious society was born, and it helped to create and apply new technologies.

Third pillar: The law. A belief that the country will be built by the law has been stressed in the Nordic countries since the middle ages.

Eliza Jean Reid is presenting a bouquet of flowers to President Sauli Niinistö and his spouse, Jenni Haukio. Picture: Matti Porre / The Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

This historical tradition of three pillars is, according to Niinistö, the legacy we stand upon today. “It’s the source of our vitality,” and we can build on this foundation. “It’s our common duty to take good care of our success factors,” Niinistö said and continued, “The tragic events of the recent times have shown us that we are not totally safe from the turmoil of the world, but together we can protect ourselves better.”

Niinistö said that our common Nordic model is a good and strong brand “that has a lot of untapped potential.” “Together we can do much more, grow closer to each other than before. I also believe that through the Nordic model we can do even more things for the benefit of the world. Together and separately.”

Sources: The Office of the Republic of Finland, STT