On the shores of Lake Superior
Today Their Majesties King Harald and Queen Sonja visited the city of Duluth on the shores of Lake Superior, the westernmost of the five Great Lakes of North America.
The Minnesota National Guard transported the King and Queen and their party to and from Duluth in Blackhawk helicopters.
The Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard Troop Reciprocal Exchange was established nearly 40 years ago. Each year some 100 Norwegian Home Guard soldiers visit Camp Ripley to participate in winter training exercises, while some 100 Minnesota National Guard soldiers travel to Norway for training.
Luncheon in Duluth
Mayor of Duluth Mr Donald Ness hosted an official luncheon for the King and Queen, after which the party paid visits to Norway Hall and Enger Tower. In his remarks at the luncheon, King Harald lauded the wide-ranging efforts of the numerous Norwegian-American organisations:
During our visit in the Midwest, the Queen and I have had the pleasure of visiting many institutions that are doing an important job documenting and conveying to future generations the stories of the Norwegian immigrants. My sense of pride in the achievements of the Norwegian immigrants and their descendants has been reinforced. You have made and are continuously making great contributions to all aspects of American society.
Visit to Sons of Norway
Founded in 1895 by Norwegian immigrants, Sons of Norway is the largest Norwegian organisation outside Norway. The organisation works to promote and preserve Norwegian heritage and culture, offering courses in Norwegian language, cooking and handicrafts, among other activities and programmes. King Harald is the patron of the Sons of Norway Foundation.
The King and Queen were greeted at Norway Hall by International President of Sons of Norway Dan Rude and local Lodge President Kristbjørg Eide. The King and Queen were introduced to a number of guests at the hall, where Arna Rennan performed Norge mitt Norge, singing part in Norwegian and part in English.
Rededication of Enger Tower
Enger Tower, an observation tower located on a hilltop above Lake Superior, was named in honour of Norwegian immigrant Bert Enger. The tower offers panoramic views of the Twin Ports of Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin, which together make up the largest freshwater port in the world. The King and Queen were accompanied by a choir, a band and drummers on their walk to the tower. A plaque on display at the base of the tower informs the public that the tower was originally dedicated by Crown Prince Olav on the tour of the US he and Crown Princess Märtha undertook in 1939.
Today the tower, which has undergone extensive renovation, was rededicated by King Harald and Queen Sonja. In his speech, the King praised the superb view:
Standing here, I can easily understand why so many Norwegian immigrants decided to settle in this area, by the splendid shores of Lake Superior. They must have missed Norway and those they left behind, but I am sure they found comfort in this peaceful and beautiful landscape.
Congratulations are presented today from His Majesty King Harald to His Excellency Mr Egils Levits, President of the Republic of Latvia.
World Heritage at Vega
In 2004, UNESCO inscribed the Vega Archipelago on the World Heritage List. Today His Royal Highness The Crown Prince was in attendance to open the new Vega Archipelago World Heritage Centre – Norway’s first authorised centre of its kind.