Scandi Royals Mark American-Scandinavia Foundation Centennial

  October 23, 2011 at 2:33 am by

Members of Scandinavia’s three royal families, along with the Presidents of their two fellow republics, have spent some time in New York City this weekend, to mark the American-Scandinavian Foundation’s centennial.

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Their first event was held on Thursday evening, at Scandinavia House. King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and President Tarja Halonen of Finland were on hand to officially open the Luminous Modernism: Scandinavian Art Comes to Ameria, 1912 exhibition at the House. Queen Sonja was given the honour of cutting the ribbon to open the exhibition, which features artworks from thirty-three Nordic artists, including Munch, Hammershøi and Zorn.

The exhibition will open to the public on October 25th, and will run until February 11th, 2012.

On Friday morning, the group was joined by Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson of Iceland and his wife, Dorrit Mousaieff, for a visit to the September 11 Memorial at the site of the World Trade Centre. At the memorial, each representative laid flowers bearing ribbons in the colour of their respective natonal flags at the base of the ‘Survivor Tree’, a callery pear tree which was found amongst the rubble at Groun Zero back in 2001. It had been planted 30 years earlier on the site, and was nursed back to health at a nursery belonging to a NYC Parks Department worker before it was replanted at its original home last year, as part of the memorial site.

This was followed by a tour of the site, with a poignant stop beside the name of the only Nordic victim of the 9/11 attack, David Gustaf Peter Tengelin from Sweden. Queen Silvia touched her hand to the name, and was later seen with tears in her eyes as she was embraced by Queen Sonja. Queen Sonja later told the media how different, and difficult, it was being back at Ground Zero (she and King Harald visited in October 2002 and again in 2005). “The two previous times we’ve been here, there were two big black holes where the towers stood. Now, there is a big change. The park has become a foundation to begin again,” the Queen said, before paralleling the event with the July attacks in Norway.

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In the evening, the royals and presidents attended the main event – the gala dinner to celebrate the Foundation centennial. Held at the Hilton Hotel, it attracted a strong crowd of Ambassadors and Scandinavians in New York. The night was filled with food and dancing, and the Swedish attendance was boulstered by Princess Madeleine, who is currently working in New York with the World Childhood Foundation.

Several incidents occured throughout the evening which the royals involved would no doubt likely to forget – while heading upstairs to the ballroom, King Harald’s accidental step on his wife’s evening gown set off a domino-effect of accidents. Stepping in to assist, Berit Tverslad (the King’s chief secretary) saw Queen Sonja safely on to the escalator, before stepping on the hem of her own gown and falling backwards into the path of King Harald, who tried to help Ms Tverslad back to her feet while the escalator was ascending, to no avail. King Carl Gustaf, at the bottom of the escalator, upon seeing the incident, quickly pressed the escalator’s emergency stop button (a video is available at NRK).

But the Swedish King’s assistance earlier didn’t prevent him from causing an accident of his own – his wayward elbow during the gala’s official toast sent wife Silvia’s champagne glass back towards her, spilling its contents on to her purple evening gown.

The two Presidents and the Kings and Queens of Norway and Sweden have returned now to their respective home countries, while the Danish Crown Princely Couple continue their visit to New York until the 25th.

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