Dancing with a crown prince

Photo courtesy of Bonnie Svardal

Have you ever wished you had asked your mother or father more questions about their life? I have. This vignette comes to mind after watching the PBS miniseries Atlantic Crossing.

My mother told me about the extended trip made by Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha in 1939. One of their first visits was an invitation to meet President and Mrs. Roosevelt. It was at this meeting where a strong friendship developed between Märtha and FDR, as recently portrayed in Atlantic Crossing, which focused on the war years 1940–1945.

During this visit, they continued across the United States to visit cities with heavy Norwegian-American populations in the Midwest. They also visited Los Angeles, where they met Sonja Henie, and they were in San Francisco to attend the International Exhibition on Treasure Island. Mount Hood in Oregon, Tacoma, Wash., and Seattle were also included in their itinerary. There was a dinner-dance in their honor in Seattle and, from what I could find online, it appears to have happened May 2 at the Seattle Civic Auditorium. It was at this dance my mother danced with Crown Prince Olav. She said my father was upset because he didn’t get to dance with Princess Märtha.

The royal couple went skiing and stayed at the Paradise Inn at Mount Rainier, Wash., on May 24 after their Tacoma visit on May 23. They stayed in Seattle three days and made a trip to Stanwood, Wash., on May 27.

Now I wish I had asked more questions about that dance. Had they been invited or was it open to all Norwegian Americans? What was served for dinner? And so on and so forth.

The lesson learned is to ask those questions while you can—you will treasure the memories.

— Bonnie Svardal, Sequim, Wash.


This article originally appeared in the April 15, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.