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USA: The King's speech in Duluth

Speech given by His Majesty King Harald at Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, Minnesota, during an official visit to the United States 13 - 22 October 2011.

Distinguished guests
Dear friends,

It is truly a great privilege to be here in the beautiful city of Duluth. The Queen and I have not been here before, so this is one of the highlights we really have been looking forward to. Arriving here with the helicopter this morning and seeing this great landscape along the shore of Lake Superior, I can easily understand that so many Norwegians settled here in earlier days, - and that so many Minnesotans come here every year for vacation.

I have heard that a replica of a Viking ship sailed from Norway to Duluth in 1927. In 1982 another replica crossed Lake Superior and the Atlantic Ocean in the opposite direction. Being a dedicated sailor myself, I do understand that such a trip would be a great experience.

My first stay in America lasted five years. My family had to flee Norway during World War II and President Roosevelt and the American people reached out and gave my mother, my sisters and me a safe harbor. We remain grateful for the years we were allowed to spend in the United States. Wherever life takes me, I will always take a piece of America with me in my heart.

The inclusive, dynamic and open minded spirit of the United States continues to attract immigrants and visitors from all over the world. The manner in which you welcome and include new immigrants and visitors has set an example for all of us.

For generations, America has opened its doors to immigrants from Norway. Many of your forebears worked hard to establish a better life for themselves and their families in the New World. Nevertheless, starting a new life in a foreign country far away must have been a tough experience.

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.

Today I understand that there are one million Minnesotans who call themselves Norwegian Americans, and that there is still a strong Norwegian footprint on this state. Many towns, buildings and individuals have Norwegian names. Many of you cherish Norwegian food and traditions. Lutefisk and lefse is still being served. And the Norwegian language is still being preserved. Thanks to each and every one of you for strengthening the bonds between the United States and Norway.

Our cultural bonds and your warmth and generosity make it easy for a Norwegian to feel at home here. During this visit to Duluth, The Queen and I have greatly appreciated your hospitality. Thank you for this wonderful day and for everything you have prepared for us!

Tusen takk



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