On Sunday, October 16, 2011, King Harald V and Queen Sonja of Norway continued their official visit to the U.S. Midwest and the state of Minnesota. They visited Augsburg College in Minneapolis with a student population of 3800 and a yearly tuition with room and board of approximately $37,000. While at Augsburg, the royal couple attended a prayer service at the chapel. Outside the chapel, King Harald and Queen Sonja attended the dedication of a Peace Pole erected in their honor.
Later in the evening, the King and Queen were at the Minneapolis Hilton for a a grand dinner held in the ballroom in their honor. A festive atmosphere pervaded, with numerous guests wearing Norwegian costumes. Also in attendances were Minnesota governor Mark Dayton and former Vice President Walter Mondale. King Harald gave a speech in which, among other things, he thanked America for the sympathy extended during the tragic shootings of July 22nd in Norway : “I take this opportunity to thank you for the generous support and compassion you have shown in the wake of this tragedy. This reminded us once again why the United States will always have such a special place in the hearts of all Norwegians. And it reminds us of the values we share.
My personal bonds to the United States have developed since my early childhood, when I spent five years here with my mother and two sisters during World War II. I have visited regularly since then, and my fascination and admiration for this beautiful and complex country is still growing.
The Queen and I are particularly fond of this part of the United States. Minnesota is perhaps the most Norwegian of all the American states. We are therefore delighted to be here again and to visit the welcoming and charming cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, together with all the other exciting places that are included in our extensive program.”
On October 17, 2011, King Harald and Queen Sonja visited Duluth, Minnesota, in the northern part of the state near the Canadian border. While in Duluth, the royal couple attended a luncheon at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center, paid a visit to the Sons of Norway lodge and participated in a re-dedication ceremony of Enger Tower. The King’s father, King Olav, dedicated the Enger Tower, an observation tower atop Enger Hill, in 1939 during a visit he paid to Duluth while still crown prince.
During their stay in St. Paul, Minnesota, it turns out that King Harald and Queen Sonja did a little bit of shopping. They stopped by Heimie’s Haberdashery near the St. Paul Hotel where they were staying. Queen Sonja and her entourage returned to the store to pick up some items that her husband, the King, had purchased the day before.