Rubbing Shoulders with Norwegian Royalty
By Sam Johnson
. . . 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
"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
"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
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
"It was wonderful" she said,
then vividly described what the Norwegian King and Queen were wearing and the
(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!"
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."
clergy ministers once considered the Hardanger fiddle a "tool of the devil"
because it "led to an irresistible desire to dance, and wanton behavior."
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.
with the friendly Norwegian Royals dates back to the early 1970's during
several trips to Norway to visit relatives living in Oslo.
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.
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
Again many of us on the
ferry boat commented on how personable and friendly the Royal family seemed to
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?
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.
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:
looks to its Sons and Daughters in the United States as a bridge between our
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.
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