Välkommna: King and queen of Sweden coming to Minnesota

  • Article by: KIM ODE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 24, 2012 - 4:33 PM

Royalty will visit Minneapolis and St. Peter in October to celebrate Swedish heritage - and perhaps show off a new grandprincess.

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Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia

Photo: Unger Anthon, Associated Press

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Not that anyone is keeping score, but here come the Swedes.

In October, Minnesota will host another contingent of Scandinavian royalty when King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia arrive, barely 12 months after Norway's King Harald and Queen Sonja visited us.

The royal couple will travel to St. Peter for the 150th anniversary of Gustavus Adolphus College's founding by Swedish immigrants, then will dedicate a new cultural center at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.

The royal couple, who became new grandparents this week, may answer the perennial question of what queens keep in their purses. Baby photos, anyone? The Oct. 5-6 visit will be an opportunity for the state's Swedish community to flex their smörgåsbords. About one in 10 Minnesotans claim some Swedish heritage, making them the fourth-largest ethnic group, after Germans, Norwegians and Irish -- not that anyone is keeping score.

But Sweden wins the pop-culture bragging rights by virtue of this factoid: The night before Carl Gustaf married Silvia Sommerlath on June 19, 1976, the Swedish musical group ABBA debuted "Dancing Queen" at a gala wedding celebration.

Their duties as Sweden's monarchs are mostly ceremonial, as with their Scandinavian neighbors, but among the most prominent is handing out the prestigious Nobel Prizes each December.

Ceremonial duties will be at the forefront in Minnesota. At Gustavus Adolphus, the king and queen will be at the dedication and installation of an altar cloth embroidered years ago by Gustaf V, the king's great-grandfather, as well as the dedication of a plaza and sculpture on campus. In addition, the Hillstrom Museum of Art will open an exhibition titled "150 Years of Swedish Art."

In Minneapolis, the royals will dedicate the Carl and Leslie Nelson Cultural Center at the American Swedish Institute, which officially opens June 30 as a showplace of Nordic arts, music and culture. King Carl Gustaf is an ardent environmentalist -- his personal motto is "För Sverige - I tiden," or "For Sweden - with the times" -- and so is likely to scrutinize the center's sloping green roof and a geothermal well field for heating and cooling.

"That will please him," said Bruce Karstadt, the institute's president and CEO, and also honorary consul general of Sweden. "We've already been told to expect questions."

The roof will be planted in natural grasses. "It's an important feature which really speaks to our values," Karstadt said. "In Sweden, it's taken for granted that you will design a building that's sustainable."

Karstadt said the king and queen last visited Minnesota in 2002, when the institute began major restoration work on the landmark Turnblad Mansion.

A limited number of tickets will be available for the chapel service at Gustavus and the dedication ceremony at the institute. Details will be announced in May.

Until then, those of the Swedish persuasion can buff up their sandbakkel tins, perfect their meatball recipes and plant their gardens with blue bachelor's buttons and yellow snapdragons. Because people tend to keep score.

Kim Ode • 612-673-7185

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  • One grandchild for Sweden’s King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, that is. A yet-unnamed girl, in line to become queen, was born Thursday to Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, shown here leaving Karolinska University Hospital in Solna.

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