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Queen of Norway visiting Minnesota, includes stop at St. Olaf College

Queen of Norway visits Minnesota
Queen of Norway visits Minnesota 01:52

MINNEAPOLIS -- Queen Sonja of Norway is in Minnesota for the next several days to celebrate the strong ties between the country and the state's Norwegian-American community.

The queen, who is scheduled to be in the state through Sunday, is visiting "to mark Norway's strong ties with the Norwegian-American community in the US," a press release from The Royal House of Norway said. Thousands in the state have ancestry tracing back to Norway, and share cultural traditions to this day.

Her first stop was a meeting with Gov. Tim Walz. The governor said it was an "honor" to meet the queen and said he was "proud of Minnesota's extraordinary relationship with Norway."

Minnesota Governor's Office

On Thursday's agenda was a celebration of 50 years of collaboration between the Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard. Each year soldiers from Norway come to Camp Ripley to train, and Minnesota guardsmen and women go to Norway to train. On display were a number of gifts given to the former by the latter, including a Viking sword.

"For 50 years, this exchange of military training and cultures has survived the test of time, becoming the longest standing exchange program in the U.S. Department of Defense," said Brigadier General Lowell E. Kruse, with the MN National Guard.

Many Minnesotans feel a deep pride for Norway, which makes Queen Sonja's visit extra special.

"There are at least 900,000 Minnesotans who show their ancestry back to Norway," said Walz.

On Friday, she'll visit St. Olaf College, which was founded by Norwegian immigrants in 1874.

Queen Sonja and King Harald V of Norway Getty Images

According to the college, the queen will, among other things, participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new "Special Collections" vault at the Rølvaag Memorial Library. The events are not open to the public.

It will be the queen's fourth visit to the college. Her first visit was in 1978 when she was the Crown Princess of Norway.

On Saturday, the queen will head to Minneapolis where she'll visit the Norway House, which will be opening a new addition. 

"We are just thrilled over the mood excited that she's chosen to be part of our ribbon cutting, opening this beautiful new expansion," said Christina Carleton, Executive Director of Norway House.

Their expansion includes an event center, which will open in November, and the event on Saturday will draw many Minnesotans with Norwegian pride.

Queen Sonja will also visit the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church in Minneapolis on Sunday. The church, also called Mindekirken, was established in 1922 by the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America. She'll be at an event that commemorates the church's 100th anniversary. 

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