Duke and duchess attend gala dinner in Norway

Duchess of Cambridge at the Royal Palace in Oslo, Norway on 1 February 2018 Image copyright Reuters

The King of Norway has paid tribute to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at a gala dinner in their honour in Oslo.

Speaking at the Royal Palace, King Harald described the couple as "family" while Prince William celebrated the UK's relationship with Norway.

Crown Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Marit had greeted the duke and duchess at a snow-covered airbase at the start of the second leg of their Nordic tour.

Staff cleared the runway as the private chartered plane arrived from Sweden.

Prince William and Catherine are visiting the two countries at the request of the Foreign Office - part of a series of trips seen as attempt to strengthen ties with European nations ahead of Brexit.

Norway is not in the EU but is associated through its membership of the European Economic Area.

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Image caption The duke and duchess were escorted to the dinner by King Harald V and Queen Sonja

In his speech, King Harald said: "I hope we will be able to maintain our close and extensive co-operation when the United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union."

Prince William said: "Norway has been, and will continue to be, enormously important to Britain both as a friend and a partner."

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He added: "Defending freedom is a core value for both Norwegians and Britons.

"The cherished symbols of our freedom and friendship are the Christmas trees sent from Norwegian communities to Britain each December."

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Image caption The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were met by Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit
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The royal couple are due to visit Norwegian start-ups and entrepreneurs, including reMarkable, Play Magnus, No Isolation and Motitech, which all work towards tackling issues such as the environment, mental health and well-being.

The duke will also meet Norway's chess grandmaster Magnus Carlsen.

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Image caption The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met King Harald V and Queen Sonja in Oslo
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Image caption The royal couple took a tour of Oslo's Royal Palace gardens and met members of the public
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Image caption They later posed with King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway alongside extended Norwegian royalty ahead of the dinner at the Royal Palace
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Kate, who is six months pregnant with the couple's third child, kept warm in a Catherine Walker coat and Seraphine dress as they were greeted by their hosts on Thursday morning.

They were then driven to central Oslo to the Royal Palace for an audience with King Harald and Queen Sonja, before taking a tour of the Princess Ingrid Alexandra Sculpture Park and spoke to members of the public.

The Duchess smiled in a pink flowing gown by Alexander McQueen as she was led to dinner by King Harald V, while Prince William followed closely behind, accompanied by Queen Sonja.

The duke and duchess's Norwegian visit comes exactly 34 years after Princess Diana's solo trip to the country in 1984, when she also met Harald and Sonja.

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