NORTHFIELD, Minn. - King Harald V of Norway thanked Americans for their response to the July massacre that killed dozens of Norwegian youth on an island.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, the American people, for your support and compassion in the wake of those terrorist attacks," said King Harald said Friday afternoon.
He made the remarks in a packed chapel on the campus of St. Olaf College. It was the conclusion of a four-hour visit to Minnesota's most Norwegian of college campuses. St. Olaf was founded in the 1870s by Norwegian Lutheran immigrants and features Norwegian language instruction.
One of the students taking Norwegian in his first year at St. Olaf's is Drew Dittmann, 19, of Stillwater. Dittmanns' grandfather was a Norwegian immigrant who taught at the school for almost 50 years. A building on the campus bears his name.
Drew Dittmann was overwhelmed by the visit to his classroom. "It was really awesome and a little nerve-wracking, as well," he said.
He admitted that language was still a barrier with the royal couple, especially when Queen Sonja addressed the students in her Norwegian.
"Well, we did not necessarily always understand what she was saying, so the best response was always just laugh and acknowledge that it happened," said Dittmann.
The royals were greeted with flag-waving students on the campus and, often, chants of welcome in Norwegian. The King and Queen are to visit Duluth on Monday, then fly to New York on Tuesday to attend a meeting of Scandinavian heads of state.
King Harald V and Queen Sonja are to return to Norway on October 22. The campus visit in Northfield was the third time the King has visited St. Olaf.
(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)