While out on "official duties," Princess Märtha Louise said how she always encounters disappointed children who exclaim, "That's not the princess! She's not wearing a crown!" As an experienced storyteller, she decided to publish a children's book explaining the role of modern royalty.
"Why Kings and Queens Don't Wear Crowns" is a historical Norwegian fairy tale that describes the beginning of the Norwegian royalty.
Lois Rand, wife of former College President Sidney Rand, introduced Her Highness, remarking that it was "time she came to St. Olaf," as her whole family has already visited Northfield. The most recent visit was that of her brother, Crown Prince Haakon, this past fall.
Sidney Rand had also served as Ambassador to Norway and his wife knows the country well. Lois Rand described Princess Märtha's past and her work as a physical therapist, storyteller and, most recently, author.
Princess Märtha opened her speech by describing the common reaction of children to seeing a princess without a crown. She explained that in olden days princesses lived in towers and had long hair for princes to climb up, but today, "they look like me."
She also described the historical background for the book. When Norway split from Sweden, the country wanted a royal line. Eventually, Prince Karl of Denmark and his wife Maud (who actually had English roots) became the Norwegian royal family.
Because they were not very "Norwegian," they had to put in a lot of effort to become national symbols. "Why Kings and Queens Don't Wear Crowns" is centered on their small son, Crown Prince Olaf.
The book's illustrator, Svein Nyhus, was also present. He told the audience about his drawings, and the attempt to "show that it is a fairy tale."
He explained, as much to the children present as to anyone else, that it is "okay to exaggerate" when the story is based on historical fact. Nyhus also pointed out personal details and additions that may have gone unnoticed, such as his caricature of Her Highness and her family hidden in the crowd in one scene.
Another small addition is a yellow flower in the barrel of a soldier's gun. Nyhus said that he was impressed that the split between Norway and Sweden was peaceful, because that is "very uncommon."
Her Highness then read aloud from her book. She described the small boys frustration with sitting on the throne, and his attempts to learn Norwegian culture and traditions.
Because her talk was preceded by a performance by the Northfield Youth Choir, there were many children sitting in the front of the crowd. The children reacted verbally at various points in the story, agreeing that it would be difficult to sit on a throne all day long, as Crown Prince Olaf had to do.
Linn Dale '07, originally from Norway, said it was good for the relations between St. Olaf and Norway to have such speakers. She also admitted that we tend to think modern royalty "doesn't do anything or have careers," but that it is beneficial to hear about their activities.
Her sister, Janne Dale '08, liked the historical aspect of the book. "Its nice that it has historical facts that can teach children about history," she said.