Official Visit to the United States - October 2011

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I'm so excited about this - I have a ticket to hear Harald speak at Luther College tomorrow morning, as well as a ticket to the royal luncheon! I've been counting down the days. :flowers:
Besides minnisota and new York are these other places the king and queen of Norway will be visiting?
:previous: They'll also visit Iowa.
There is a large Scandanavian population running through the middle of the US. I remember the King and Queen of Sweden going to Lindsburg, Ks in the 70's.

The official entry from the royal website includes some pics of the visit to the Luther
College, yesterday, October 13. You'll also find a link to the King's speech held during
that visit.

** Startet reisen i USA i dag ** translation **

Some nice pics from day 1 can also be found here:

** Royalty in Iowa **

** King Harald wows them at Luther College **

** Photos: Norway’s king and queen at Luther College in Decorah **
Thank you as well, fairy tale :flowers:

This photoalbum on the official website will be updated during the next days!

On day 2, October 14, King Harald and Queen Sonja visited the St. Olaf College in Northfield
and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

** Utdanning og helse i Minnesota ** translation **

** St. Olaf College Welcomes Norway's King and Queen **

** video: King and Queen of Norway visit St. Olaf **

** Hundreds in Gonda Building cheer Norwegian king, queen **
So I had a ticket to the Convocation at Luther College in Decorah on Thursday, and I was also incredibly lucky to get an invitation to have lunch with Harald and Sonja (and roughly 150 other people). It was so cool to see them in person! When they entered the luncheon, they passed right by my table - literally 5 feet from me. :D A few random thoughts/details from the day:

It was clear that Harald still feels a strong connection to the U.S. (He spent five years in Washington during World War II at the invitation of President Roosevelt.) I think he seemed very sincere in his speech, and I heard several people remarking on his singing of the American national anthem. He knew every word without glancing at his program, and he was singing along with gusto, all of which is more than can be said for some Americans. :whistling: Certainly above and beyond what one would expect from a foreign head of state.

Harald seems very jovial, very easygoing, and like he's having a good time wherever he is. He seemed to enjoy the whole service and looked very relaxed, and I thought it was very funny how he sat down in his seat on the platform and immediately looked through his program. He appeared to be reading the page-long biographies of him and Sonja with interest. (I don't think Sonja ever opened her copy.) During the lunch, I looked over at Harald's table several times, and he was always laughing.

Sonja didn't seem to be having nearly as good of a time as he was - she seemed rather stiff in comparison to her husband. I don't think she smiled at all as they processed in to the Convocation (Harald was quite smiley and friendly-looking), and I thought she looked rather intimidating. During the service, she managed a very small smile when she and Harald were presented with an award, and then she laughed at one point. Other than that, her expression was quite fixed. When she first sat down at the lunch, she seemed somewhat stiff with the guests at her table. She relaxed more as the time went on, but it still seemed to be much more of a "business lunch" for her than it was for him. In the last 20 minutes or so I thought she seemed to grow much warmer, almost grandmotherly when she was listening to the two students at her table. I guess it takes her awhile to be comfortable/natural?

The lady who introduced Harald during the Convocation mentioned his previous visits to Luther College, the first of which was in 1965 when he was still the Crown Prince. She noted that all the college girls were quite taken with the handsome young Prince, and Sonja looked at Harald and nodded. He laughed and had this funny look on his face, like, "I was handsome, wasn't I?" and they both laughed (along with the audience). It was a cute moment between them.

Sonja is very short in real life. (As she and Harald left the luncheon, I heard a lady at the table behind me whisper, "She's a tiny little thing, isn't she?" ;)) I think some of the official photos, like the ones on the Royal House website right now, are photoshopped to make her taller - the one on the homepage makes her look like she comes past Harald's shoulder, and she definitely doesn't. She was about an inch below his shoulder, and her heels looked like they were about three inches, making her 4 inches below his shoulder. My guess on his height is that he's about 6 foot 2 (188 centimeters) - he was taller than most of the men around him, but he wasn't a giant. If you assume his head's about a foot above his shoulder, and then you subtract another four inches, this makes Sonja 4 foot 10 or 11 (147-150 centimeters).

Aside from how incredibly tiny she is :D, I was also struck by her eyes. I've read that Harald has said that what first attracted him to her was her big brown eyes, and they do look very pretty in photos. However, they're much more striking in person. They're very big and very brown, and they have an unusual (but quite pretty) shape.

We were not allowed to take photos in the Convocation or at the luncheon, but I did get a few of them outside after the service, as well as a few outside the Vesterheim Museum later that afternoon.


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What a cool experience! Thank you very much for sharing.
Thank you so much Maura724 for this insight view. How lucky you are!!! :flowers:
Thanks a lot for your interesting report, Maura724, I've also enjoyed it a lot!

Yesterday the couple had a day off, King Harald watched an icehockey match
between Minnesota Wild and Detroit Red Wings in Saint Paul.

** Pic 1 ** Pic 2 ** gallery **
How funny to see him out doing normal vacation things - I wondered what they would do on their day off! I wonder if Sonja was shopping at the Mall of America nearby in Minneapolis?
If you all can get me tickets to more events, I'm in! :lol:

Maura724, we officially send you out to find out more about the whole trip ;):)

Yesterday, October 16, King Harald and Queen Sonja visited Augsburg College, attended
a reception and an official dinner in the evening.

** Gudstjeneste i St. Paul ** translation **

Pics can be found here:

** Reflections from a royal visitor **

more pictures
Kuningatar Sonja ja kuningas Harald vierailulla Minnesotassa. | Lehtikuva |

and more from the whole visit
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First off...Maura, thank you for your report on the event you attended. It sounds like you had an amazing experience.

Second, I didn't realize that King Harald had spent so much time in the US during WWII. I don't know as much about the Norwegian Royal Family as I'd like, but how lovely that mental image of him just belting out The Star Spangled Banner is to think on. :eek:D

I could swear I read *somewhere* that Queen Sonja is very, very shy. If true, that could explain why she seemed so stiff during the event. I can't imagine how hard it would be for someone who has to overcome issues w/shyness to take on the life of first being Crown Princess of Norway and then the Queen Consort. I don't know if I could do it.
The Scandinavian Royals at the opening of the American-Scandinavian Foundation Centennial exhibition at the Scandinavia House on October 20th. Queen Sonja of Norway got the honour of cutting the opening ribbon.

Pic One ** Pic Two

Zimbio Gallery

Today, October 21, King Harald and Queen Sonja together with Queen Silvia, King Carl Gustaf,
Crown Prince Frederik, Crown Princess Mary and Tarja Halonen, President of Finland visited the
National September 11 Memorial in New York City.

** gettyimages/zimbio gallery **

** Sonja måtte trøste Silvia ** translation **

** video: Sterkt møte med Ground Zero for Kongen og Dronningen ** translation **

** Operaen på museum ** translation **

In the evening King Harald and Queen Sonja attended the The American-Scandinavian
Foundation celebration of its 100th anniversary at Centennial Ball at The Hilton Hotel:

** zimbio gallery 1 ** zimbio gallery 2 **
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This is a touching picture: Queen Sonja with Queen Silvia, comforting her at the 9/11 memorial

Ooops ;) King Harald stepped on the Queen Sonja's dress
Kong harald - Konge Harald tråkket på dronning Sonjas kjole - Kongelige
Google Translation

But he was also the savior when the cabinet secretary Berit Tversland - after helping Queen Sonja with the dress - stepped wrong and fell backwards down the escalator. She was not injured and laughed the whole ride up the escalator.
Google Translation
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I think it´s a bit of a pity that there wasn´t even a short stop at the White House...
This is a touching picture: Queen Sonja with Queen Silvia, comforting her at the 9/11 memorial

Ooops ;) King Harald stepped on the Queen Sonja's dress
Kong harald - Konge Harald tråkket på dronning Sonjas kjole - Kongelige
Google Translation

But he was also the savior when the cabinet secretary Berit Tversland - after helping Queen Sonja with the dress - stepped wrong and fell backwards down the escalator. She was not injured and laughed the whole ride up the escalator.
Kong Harald reddet kabinettsekretæren - Side2
Google Translation
video: Kong Harald ble redningsmann - Verden - NRK Nyheter

Maybe Queen Sonja should take the hint and but a new evening gown and put this one in the back of the closet along with the salmon colored one she brings out regularly.
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