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  • August 24, 1944: President Sveinn Björnsson of Iceland paid visits to Arlington National Cemetery, Capitol Hill and Mount Vernon during his brief wartime visit to Washington. Iceland had become a republic just 68 days earlier. President Björnsson and other members of his group spent the night of August 24 at the White House, then stayed at Blair House for the next two nights before leaving for New York City and home.1
  • October 11, 1960: King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark visited Washington to dedicate the new Danish embassy at 3200 Whitehaven Street N.W. and attend a performance of the Royal Danish Ballet at Loew’s Capital Theater. The state dinner at the White House was the last of the 28 hosted by President and Mrs. Eisenhower. Tables in the State Dining Room were highlighted by lavender orchids and orchid carnations, and the menu featured bread sticks, candies, cheese straws, cole slaw, cream of amandine soup, demitasse, eggplant casserole, frosted mint delight, hearts of celery, Irish apple garnish, lobster thermidor, olives, petit fours, prosciutto and chilled melon, roast beef tenderloin, salted nuts, string beans vinaigrette, thin corn crusts, tossed Bibb lettuce salad with French dressing, and whole wheat toast.2
  • June 9, 1964: Prime Minister Jens Otto Krag and his wife, actress Helle Virkener, of Denmark arrived in Washington as part of a state visit to celebrate “Denmark Day” at the New York World’s Fair on June 7. After their arrival Mrs. Krag was promptly taken to a champagne lunch at Arena Stage – a nod to her career on stage and in film. Later in the visit Mrs. Krag visited the Folger Shakespeare Library.
    The Danish guests began the following day with a journey to Arlington National Cemetery and President Kennedy’s grave site. That evening they joined 162 guests for a state dinner at the White House. The menu featured beef fillets with crab and lobster on top, Brie cheese, Charlotte russe, crabmeat rivigotte, watercress and endive salad and Wisconsin potatoes. Entertainment was provided by 12-member orchestra led by Peter Duchin. The Johnsons’ daughter Lynda performed the frug with partner Rusty Keaton, who was from Houston, Texas. The publicity-wary Lynda was a bit flustered afterward. “Now this will be in the papers tomorrow,” she said.3
  • April 25, 1968: King Olav V of Norway received a full-dress state welcome on the South Lawn of the White House with a 21-gun salute and other military honors. In his welcoming speech President Lyndon B. Johnson observed “Here in our country, Americans of Norwegian descent number more than 3 million. They include many of our most distinguished Americans, our very able Vice President among them.” Afterward the king went to Blair House and was presented with a key to the city by Mayor Walter Washington. The state dinner that evening included artichokes mornay, rack of lamb, red snapper amandine, rissoles potatoes, and garden salad with Norige Jubilee for dessert. After dinner the 140 guests went to the East Room for entertainment by the Robert Joffrey Ballet.4
  • April 14, 1970: The musical entertainment for the State Dinner for Prime Minister Hilmar Baunsgaard of Denmark was going to be provided after the dinner by Ferrante and Teicher, a piano duo President Nixon’s daughter, Tricia, recommended, having heard them previously at a concert in Norfolk, Virginia. The entertainment was canceled however, by news of serious trouble with the Apollo 13 mission. President Nixon almost left the dinner to monitor the status of the mission, but decided to attend the dinner after being briefed earlier at the Goddard Space Center. Mrs. Nixon asked those at the dinner to take a moment of silence for the mission’s safe return.5
  • July 23, 1970: The after-dinner entertainment by the Camerata Singers in the East Room so impressed President Kekkonen that after the half-hour concert, he was the first to approach the stage and shake the director’s hand. Singing part of the selections in Finnish, President Urho Kekkonen declared, “Their Finnish was excellent.”6
  • August 3, 1976: This August dinner for President Urho Kekkonen of Finland was held outdoors under a tent in the White House Rose Garden. Menu items included supreme of red snapper, tournedos with mushroom sauce, carrots and grapes, broccoli timbale, watercress and hearts of palm vinaigrette salad, and brie cheese.
    After the dinner, Chief of Protocol Shirley Temple Black directed the singing of “Happy Birthday” to Lola Evans Austad, the wife of Mark Evans Austad, U.S. Ambassador to Finland.
    After entertainment in the East Room by pianist George Shearing, the Marine Band provided music for dancing in the State Dining Room. President Kekkonen danced with both First Lady Betty Ford and the Fords’ daughter, Susan. Later, President Gerald Ford, Mrs. Ford, and their children Susan and Jack joined television star Tony Orlando and his wife for a singalong of “I’ve Got the Whole World in My Hands” and “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree.”7
  • September 10, 1985: President Ronald Reagan highlighted connections between Denmark and the United States during the toast at the State Dinner for Prime Minister Poul Schlüter, remarking, “Perhaps the most impressive is in the magnificence of one of the resounding monuments to American freedom—the great stone carvings on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. There, the son of Danish immigrants, Gutzon Borglum, immortalized in granite the faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. He died before he saw the completion of his work, but his son carried on. And today it stands as a tribute to the flame of liberty that burns red hot in the soul of a man with roots in America and Denmark.”8
  • September 9, 1987: When President Reagan addressed those assembled for the State Dinner for Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson of Sweden, the president spoke about his personal connections to Swedish-Americans, noting, “As a boy in northern Illinois I had neighbors with names like Hansson and Lund. This morning in the course of our discussions, I realized anew what I have long known: that Sweden and America share the same basic values and the same hopes for a more peaceful and prosperous world.”9
  • February 20, 1991: Guests for this dinner in honor of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark included journalist and news anchor Walter Cronkite, baseball player Nolan Ryan, actress Melanie Griffith, and journalist and news anchor Katherine Couric. Menu items included lobster medallions and crown roast of lamb. Queen Margrethe II was dressed in red velvet with diamond tiara, necklace, earrings, and brooch. First Lady Barbara Bush was dressed in a floral evening gown and pearls. After dinner, mezzo-soprano Frederica Von Stade provided musical entertainment in the East Room, finishing her performance with a rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner.”10

Footnotes & Resources

  1. Mr. Bjornsson Expected Here, On Third Visit,” Washington Post, August 23, 1944; “White House Dinner Given By President,” Washington Post, August 25, 1944
  2. John V. Horner, “Royalty Continue Visit, to See Ballet Tonight,” Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), October 13, 1960; Eileen Jackson, “Straws in the Wind: Capitol Society Rolls on Despite Stars’ Absence,” San Diego (California) Union, October 12, 1960; Amelia Young, “Royal Visit is Climaxed at Ballet,” Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), October 14, 1960
  3. “Something New in Welcomes,” Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), June 9, 1964; “White House Dance for Danes,” Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), June 10, 1964; Maxine Cheshire, “All There but the Madisons,” Washington Post, June 11, 1964
  4. “King Olav V is Honored by President at Dinner,” Dallas (Tex.) Morning News, April 27, 1968; Mary Strasburg, “Ship of State Sails Out Party for King Olav,” Washington Post, April 26, 1968; Lyndon B. Johnson, “Remarks of Welcome at the White House to King Olav V of Norway, April 25, 1968,” The American Presidency Project, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=28...
  5. Marie Smith, “Piano Duo at Dinner,” The Washington Post, April 14, 1970; “Nixon in Close Touch with Space Crisis”, The Washington Post, April 15, 1970
  6. Marie Smith, “Dinner for Kekkonen,” The Washington Post, July 24, 1970
  7. Dorothy McCardle and Donnie Radcliffe, “Seasoned with Politics,” The Washington Post, August 4, 1976
  8. The American Presidency Project, Toast at the State Dinner for Prime Minister Poul Schlüter of Denmark, September 10, 1985, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=39086&st=State+Dinner&st1=
  9. The American Presidency Project, Toasts at the State Dinner Honoring Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson of Sweden, September 9, 1987, http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=34775&st=State+Dinner&st1=
  10. Donnie Radcliffe and Roxanne Roberts, “Bush’s Salute to an Ally: At Dinner for Danish Queen, Echoes of War,” The Washington Post, February 21, 1991