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How many chopping days till Christmas?

22 November, 2019 — By Tom Foot

Mayor of Oslo Marianne Borgen, left, and Lord Mayor of Westminster Ruth Bush

MAYOR of Westminster Ruth Bush has flown out to Norway to help cut down a Christmas tree for Trafalgar Square.

The giant spruce has begun a 700-mile journey from a forest just outside Oslo to central London as part of a deal with Norway that stretches back to the Second World War.

Cllr Bush was joined by the Mayor of Oslo Marianne Borgen and the UK’s ambassador to Norway, Richard Wood.

Speaking at the event, Mayor Bush said: “For more than 70 years the people of Oslo have given the people of London a magnificent tree as a thank you to Britain for providing a haven for King Haakon when he stood against tyranny.”

King Haakon dramatically escaped from Norway to London when the Nazis invaded what was originally a neutral country. He set up a government in exile in the capital with weekly cabinet meetings while making speeches that were regularly broadcast by radio to ­Norway by the BBC World Service. King Haakon is remembered as a symbol of defiance against Hitler’s regime.

Mayor Bush said: “The reason that they made this marvellous gesture and continue to do so should never be forgotten and I’m sure all the children who came to sing will make sure this tradition will continue when they grow up.

“Someone in London has discovered the City of Westminster long ago used to give Oslo a rose bush each year as a small thank you for this big thank you – and I am talking to people here and at home to see if we can start this once again.”

Mr Wood said: “We also need to remember where the close bonds come from. This tree is a powerful symbol of wartime solidarity and Norway’s gratitude for that. We in turn are grateful to Norway for the Christmas cheer it brings.”

The tree, known as a Picea abies, weighs two tonnes and is being transported by sea before the big switch-on, hosted by Mayor Bush and Mayor Borgen. This free event starts at 6pm, December 5.

The tree will be recycled into mulch after Twelfth Night.

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