Norwegian Royalty

Rubbing Shoulders with Norwegian Royalty

By Sam Johnson

      "Psst . . . . Sam," whispered a voice as I walked Mom out of the doctor's office at the clinic last Wednesday.
It was Janis Jaeger, radiology specialist and former neighbor peeking her head around the corner of the hallway.

"You'll never guess who I had dinner with two days ago!" she said, scrunching her shoulders and beaming a huge smile, like a kid with a secret to share.

"Hmmm, I don't know," I replied.

"The King and Queen of Norway!" she blurted out excitedly.

And then she told me all about the dinner and reception for King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway that she attended (with her sister, I think she said) at the Hilton Hotel in Minneapolis.

The "Norwegian Royals" have been touring the Midwest on a visit that began Oct. 11th and will end Oct. 22nd in New York city with a huge "Royal Ball" featuring other royalty and leaders from all five Nordic countries.

"Wow," I said. "What was it like?"

Norwegian Royalty Links

Click the link below for more info:
"Norway's Royalty Resources"

"It was wonderful" she said, then vividly described what the Norwegian King and Queen were wearing and the colorful "bunads"
(Norwegian national costumes) worn by many of the other guests.

     "And we were seated at a table where we could see everything, including the procession of the King and Queen and the Hardanger fiddle player who passed right by us and sounded amazing!"

      The Hardanger fiddle is Norway's national instrument, a unique violin fashioned with 8 or 9 strings that vibrate in such a way "that it creates a halo, or aura, around the sound."
     Norwegian clergy ministers once considered the Hardanger fiddle a "tool of the devil" because it "led to an irresistible desire to dance, and wanton behavior."

      After describing some of King's Harald's remarks followed by a toast "to the King" and the banquet meal, Janice remarked at how personable and friendly the Norwegian royals seemed.

      "Friendly," "personable," jolly," "happy," "genuine," "accessible" are frequent comments made by many observers of Norway's Royalty, and one of the reasons why 7 out of 10 Norwegians continue to support the monarchy.

      My experience with the friendly Norwegian Royals dates back to the early 1970's during several trips to Norway to visit relatives living in Oslo.
     On one occasion, it was "syttende mai" (17th of May, Norwegian Constitution Day), one of the most joyful and colorful holidays in Norway. Throughout Norway, school children gather to parade through the main street of their town waving flags, singing songs, and celebrating.

     We joined the festivities in downtown Oslo, marching past the Royal Palace located on Karl Johan's Gata, Oslo's main street, and were thrilled to see the Royal Family on the balcony waving to us and all the celebrants as we marched past the palace waving our flags.

     On another trip to Oslo in the 1975, we were taking the ferry boat across the Oslo fjord to the museums on "Bygdø peninsula" (home of the Viking Ship museums), and passed the Norwegian Royal Yacht on its way from the Royal Summer Farm also located on "Bygdø."
     We were all thrilled to see a young Royal Family all smiling and waving to us from the deck of their yacht. It was King Olav V with Crown Prince Harald and Crown Princess Sonja and toddlers Haakon Magnus, and Martha Louise.
Again many of us on the ferry boat commented on how personable and friendly the Royal family seemed to be.
Well, I'm curious to hear from Doris and Leonard Lien of Devils Lake about their experience "rubbing shoulders with Norwegian Royalty," and if their impressions were the same.
I ran into Doris and Leonard at a local cafe a couple weeks back. They had just finished their breakfast and were heading out the door as Mom and I were coming in.
"Guess who I'm having dinner with in a couple days?" Doris asked me, beaming a big smile.
     Smiling back I replied, "With Leonard at our Sons of Norway membership dinner?" (Doris and Leonard are both members of our Heim Lodge).
"No, with the King and Queen of Norway!" she said cheerfully.
It turns out that Doris and Leonard have a granddaughter attending one of the Lutheran colleges with strong ties to Norway (I think it's Luther College) and she had obtained two tickets to the "Royal Reception and Banquet" being held there.
Why all the fuss about this visit to Minnesota by the King and Queen of Norway?
     Here's some perspective:
     • There are more than 4.5 million Americans of Norwegian descent in the U.S., most living in the upper Midwest, according to the most recent U.S. census.
     • Norwegian Americans currently comprise the 10th largest American ancestry group.
• 200,000 North Dakotans claim Norwegian as their ancestry.
• The Midwest is home to colleges with deep Norwegian roots such as Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, St. Olaf, Augsburg, Augustana, and Luther College.

     And in the words of King Harald V from his visit this week:
"Norway looks to its Sons and Daughters in the United States as a bridge between our two cultures.
Our countries’ efforts are at their best when we combine them. We work together to achieve development, peace, democracy and human rights in countries around the world...
     We are gathered here tonight to celebrate what it means to be Norwegian and what it means to be American. There is something special about each and every one of you, a reflection of your combined Norwegian and American heritages.
     I wish you all the very best in preserving these values as well as taking care of the pride and awareness of your Norwegian ancestry. I am confident that these special bonds of friendship will stay alive in the future.
Tusen takk!"

     I haven't heard from or spoken to Doris since her return, but I'm guessing that she, like Janis, will have great things to share about "rubbing shoulders with Norwegian Royalty!"