ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Her Majesty Queen Sonja of Norway is visiting Minnesota for the first time in a decade to highlight Norway’s ties with the Norwegian-American community.
During the four-day trip, the Queen is set to visit St. Olaf College, open an expansion of the Norway House in Minneapolis, celebrate the founding of a Norwegian church and meet with Gov. Tim Walz.
The Queen kicked her trip off Thursday in a meeting with Walz at the state Capitol in St. Paul to celebrate the 49-year-long exchange between the Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard. The program is the longest-running military partnership between two nations, according to the U.S. Army.
"Your Majesty you honor us with your presence. We are grateful for this friendship, it’s stronger than it’s ever been," said Walz during the meeting.
On Friday, the Queen will head south to St. Olaf College to meet with students, faculty members, the Board of Regents, and members of the Norwegian-American Historical Association.
While at the college, her Majesty will attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new special collections vault at Rolvaag Memorial Library that will house student readings and performances of archived materials related to Norwegian-American history, according to St. Olaf College.
The Queen will head back to the twin cities on Saturday to open the 18,000 square-foot, $19.5 million expansion of the Norwegian Arts, Business and Culture Center in America. Her Majesty will also assist in unveiling a new 16-foot-tall pinecone sculpture made of mirrored steel by Norwegian artist Finn Modhal.
On her final stop in Minneapolis, her Majesty will attend an event Sunday to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Mindekirken’s founding, also called the Norwegian Lutheran Memorial Church. The church was established in 1922 and is one of two churches in the United States that still holds services in Norwegian, according to the Royal House of Norway.
The last time Queen Sonja and King Harald of Norway visited Minnesota was in 2011.