Norway’s Queen Sonja (left) enters the Hilton ballroom with Cecile Strommen, wife of Norway’s ambassador to the United States, King Harald V and Ambassador Wegger Christian Strommen.
Public radio reporters don’t spend a lot of time chasing royalty, so it’s helpful that protocols are emailed ahead of time: dress code= dark suit, no photos during dinner, do not drink before the toast, no exits before the King and Queen.
The Hilton ballroom was awash in bunads, the Norwegian national costumes (see the Ambassador’s wife pictured above). Gov. Mark Dayton sat at the head table, as did Sen. Amy Klobuchar. It was also a night for Minnesota’s most famous Norwegian-American sons: former Vice President Walter Mondale introduced the King, and former Senate majority leader Roger Moe was in attendance.
During his eight-minute speech, the King expressed his thanks for America’s compassion and support in the wake of Norway’s bombing and mass shooting that killed 77 people on July 22, 2011. The full text of his speech is here.
Reporters were allowed to photograph the royal entrance to the ballroom. The Norwegian press corps tailing Their Royal Majesties then made a bee-line for the press table to enjoy a nice dinner of grilled Norwegian salmon, petit fillet of beef and a trio of desserts.
After Their Majesties (TM as they are referred to in press briefing materials) made their exit, I stopped back at the press room.
“What’s the big story tonight?” I asked the Norwegian press corps. They looked at me blankly.
“Are there ever any scandals covering the Norwegian royalty?” I asked.
They shook their heads.
“Not anymore,” they said.
The juiciest nugget they had was in 1968, when King Harald married Queen Sonja, a commoner.
The Royals head to Duluth today, then on Tuesday, they’ll dedicate an exhibit at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport to mark the centennial of Roald Amundsen’s successful expedition to the South Pole. Our own polar explorers Ann Bancroft and Will Steger will be in attendance, along with Norwegian explorer Liv Arnesen.
In Nov. 2012, Arnesen and Bancroft will lead a team of six women from six continents on an 800 mile, 80-day long expedition to the South Pole.