In 1940, four members of the Norwegian royal family escaped German occupation of their homeland. Crown Princess Martha and her children: Princess Astrid, Princess Ragnhild, and Prince Harald took refuge in the United States. The struggle to recapture Norway is chronicled in the current PBS miniseries Atlantic Crossing.
Only one year earlier, Martha and her husband, Crown Prince Olav, had toured the United States, by train, traveling from Boston to California and back to Washington DC. One stop in Washington was the Girl Scout Little House.
The royal couple captured many hearts across the country, as their public appearances provided a welcome diversion from the Great Depression. Atlantic Crossing began just as their tour wrapped up.
Entire towns turned out to see the Norwegian royals, especially marching bands, flags, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and flocks of little girls in Norwegian national dress.
Smitten with the lovely princess, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt invited the royals to his Hyde Park home as well as at the White House.
This remarkable friendship prompted FDR to have US forces spirit Princess Martha and her three children out of Scandinavia to safety in the United States. Upon arrival, the four Norwegians stayed in New York, but they soon relocated to Washington DC.
Two Girl Scout princesses
To help her daughters make new friends, Princess Martha enrolled them in Girl Scouts.
She had learned about the Girl Scouts during her 1939 tour. Like many visiting dignitaries, Martha visited the Girl Scout Little House, where she learned about the various programs offered to girls and adult volunteers.
As she prepared to depart from the Little House, she was given a pair of guest towels, hand-woven by members of Troop 22. Kari Galbe, daughter of a Norwegian diplomat, wore her Norwegian Girl Guide uniform for the occasion.
©2021 Ann Robertson, writer, editor, and Girl Scout historian