27 OCTOBER 2003

Crown Prince Haakon and his pregnant wife, Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, began a week-long tour of Russia on Monday, kicking off their official visit in scenic St Petersburg.

Mette-Marit, now in her sixth month of pregnancy, was radiant upon her arrival, clutching a bouquet of flowers and smiling broadly as she walked alongside her husband.

The royal couple have a full week ahead of them – with an agenda which includes an exploration of the Norwegian-Russian cultural exhibitions in the city, and a key meeting with a business delegates to help bridge economic interests in the two countries. Later this week, Haakon and Mette-Marit are set to travel to Moscow, where, among other activities, they'll take a look at an expanding Norwegian-Russian college which was founded in 1994.

The Princess, who is expecting her first child with the heir to the throne in January, will be sitting out at least one leg of the tour – her husband's brief excursion to Murmansk – as her pregnancy means she requires a lighter schedule.

Photo: AFP
Crown Prince Haakon and his wife Mette-Marit, who are expecting their first child together in January, kicked off a week-long trip to Russia on Monday
Photo: AFP
The royal couple began their visit in St Petersburg, and are scheduled to travel to Moscow later this week