21 JULY 2006

After months of official engagements in the public eye, it's no wonder Europe's royals look forward to a relaxing summer break. And Norway's Crown Prince Haakon had an even better excuse for an island getaway as he celebrated his 33rd birthday this week, surrounded by loved-ones on the island of Tjome in southern Norway.

Blessed with beautiful weather and views of the stunning fjords, the isle is a favourite spot for the Norwegian royals who have a summer residence there. Queen Sonja, who loves to spend most of July on the island, was joined by her son, his wife Mette-Marit and their children Marius, Ingrid and baby Sverre at the ultra-private hideaway for the birthday celebrations.

The sun-kissed group were clearly in holiday mood as they invited photographers to capture the family scene. Marius, Mette-Marit's son from a previous relationship, is proving increasingly confident in front of the cameras and flashed a winning smile. Meanwhile, little Princess Ingrid, the next heir to the throne, held onto mum's hand while baby Sverre got a hug from dad.

Yachting enthusiast King Harald was missing from the family gathering as he was in Majorca taking part in the Breitling regatta. He is sure to bump into his Spanish counterparts while there as King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia arrived on the Balearic island on Wednesday. Spain's royal family are all keen sailors and Queen Sofia wasted no time in hopping aboard their racing yacht Bribon before the start of the regatta off the coast of Palma. Her son Felipe, meanwhile, showed off his competitive spirit as he took the helm of another vessel, the Aifos, during the first race.

Photo: ©
The Norwegian royals are enjoying their traditional summer break on the island of Tjome, where Crown Prince Haakon celebrated his 33rd birthday. From left, Haakon, Prince Sverre, Marius, Queen Sonja and Mette-Marit with little Princess Ingrid Photo: © AFPClick on photo for gallery
Photo: ©
Spain's Queen Sofia takes to the high seas in the family racing yacht Bribon off the coast of MajorcaPhoto: © AFP