A Royal Welcome for Vikings Exhibit

Article excerpt

High-ranking guests from Scandinavia, royal as well as republican, were on display at the opening of the new vikings exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History Thursday night.

Could there ever have been any doubt that the royals, even without their regalia, would get the lion's share of attention?

The phalanx of photographers sprang to action the instant Prince Joachim, the tall, charming second son of Queen Margrethe of Denmark, strode in wearing a tuxedo unadorned by heavy orders or medals.

More photography lights flashed when Crown Princess Victoria, the heir of Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf, arrived in an elegant floral-print gown and matching wrap - sans tiara - to greet Lawrence Small, the Smithsonian Institution's new secretary, and museum Director Robert Fri in the receiving line.

Then King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway came in, decidedly regal with or without their crowns.

They had unmistakable allure, hard to define, but surely "a lot more than just good posture," as one gawker was overheard remarking to a friend.

Not that Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and Tarja Halonen, the democratically elected presidents of Iceland and Finland, much minded being upstaged, if truth be told.

"We get used to it," the gracious Mr. Grimsson told former Ford administration social secretary Nancy Ruwe and other guests, jokingly referring to the group as a "traveling circus that comes together very often," most recently in Copenhagen a few weeks ago to celebrate Queen Margrethe's 60th birthday. …