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Oh, to be a fly on the President’s wall

Bizarre item on the RÚV evening news yesterday. Apparently the American ambassador to Iceland [Carol Von der Wurst or whatever her name is] received word that the President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson* was all ready and set to bestow upon her the Order of the Falcon, Iceland’s highest honour. If she could kindly come out to the prez rezidence at Bessastaðir to pick it up.

This was supposed to happen yesterday.

So the good lady gets in her car and is on her way out to Bessastaðir when the phone rings and she’s told it’s all a terrible mistake, she’s not going to receive the Order of the Falcon after all. The prez’s secretary had jumped the gun, the Falcon Order committee “hadn’t finished deliberating”, so if the good lady could please just turn around and go back home. Ta.


OK – was somebody playing a practical joke? Having her on? Pulling her leg? Because I, for one, was under the impression that the Falcon medals were generally handed out twice a year — on New Year’s Day and on June 17 [although come to think of it, there was a slight deviation from schedule last year].

And, well, assuming this really was [or is] under consideration, what exactly has Ms Von der Wurst done to deserve the Order of the Falcon? Call me naive if you will if you shall if you must, but somehow I thought the highest state honour was actually awarded to people who have, like, done something IMPORTANT for the state. I’m sure Ms Von der Wurst is really good at her job and everything, but there has been absolutely nothing in the media or anywhere about her doing anything special to warrant being awarded the highest honour the Republic of Iceland pegs on people. She’s done a couple of newspaper interviews expounding the usual canned policies, and that’s it. I’ve even encountered her in a social setting where she’s been highly aloof and unsociable, making no attempt to mingle with anybody [perhaps she just doesn’t mix with commoners]. So, you know, I’m kinda baffled.

That’s assuming there really WAS a committee that really WAS deliberating. I have my doubts, and am truly curious about what REALLY happened – whether this “the secretary made a boo-boo” story was actually conceived to cover up something potentially more embarrassing – or if this is embarrassing enough.

Earlier today, that is. As usual, I picked the most windy-ass** spot in this city for a walk this afternoon and I could hardly move forward when the wind was in my face. In a couple of the major gusts I was almost blown off the main path and into a pond. Still, all is well now, we have benign breezes and rain. Lots of it. Temps are 6°C [43F]. The sun came up at 5.06 am, set at 9.46 pm.

* whom nobody takes seriously anymore after all the years he spent acting as Head Cheerleader for the now-disgraced moguls who bankrupted us all.
** Nicelandic idiom: rokrassgat.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dan April 29, 2009, 10:14 pm

    thanks for posting this, i caught the end of an interview on the news tonight and was wondering what had happened 🙂 gold.

  • Jessie April 29, 2009, 10:36 pm

    Strange story. Sounds like maybe she got punk’d.

    Is it this woman, Carol van Voorst? If so, I would like her job (not the getting punk’d part). 🙂 http://iceland.usembassy.gov/ambassador.html

  • hildigunnur April 29, 2009, 10:53 pm

    wasn’t USA almost the single important country we hadn’t managed to irritate this last year? 😀

  • digdug727 April 29, 2009, 10:57 pm

    as an american i have to say, we haven’t done anything “falcon-worthy” in about 8 years. i’m very hopeful that will now change. save your “falcon” for a deserving icelander….like yourself 😉

  • Gunnhildur April 29, 2009, 10:59 pm

    Apparently she was already there, but still in her car when the call came. She was however told that she was welcome to come in for some light refreshments and a chat.

    Either this is an epic fail (to borrow a phrase) in diplomatic relations on behalf of our president, or he and his wife are fantastic pranksters. We’ll probably never know…

  • alda April 29, 2009, 11:53 pm

    Gunnhildur – apparently she was pretty pissed off, so I would not have expected her to go in for a little chat. Heheh.
    And, much as I would like to believe that Óli and Dorrit are excellent practical jokers, I fear it is probably the former.

    Doug – oh, I will never get the Falcon medal – I write in English, you see, so I don’t count in Icelandic society.

  • Gunnhildur April 29, 2009, 11:54 pm

    Oh, and the although there is a Council of the Falcon Cross (sounds like a bad film) that gives recommendations, the president can bestow the honour on anyone he wants as he is the…wait for it…Grand Master of the Order.

    So he could have just pulled a medal out of his … pocket to hang on Carol van Voorst, but he chose not to. Why? I find this endlessly fascinating.

  • Lissa April 30, 2009, 1:24 am

    The only American I can think of who deserves the Order of the Falcon, maybe, was whoever decided to close Keflavik AFB. Even if it did mean that Icelandair stopped flying to BWI.

    I could see Dorrit playing a practical joke, but not one so politically fraught.

  • Lissa April 30, 2009, 1:28 am

    The ambassador went to Hope College, in Michigan. Hope College is a fundamentalist Christian school of the “convert the world to our one true truth” school.

    No wonder she was rude to you, Alda. She probably thinks all Icelanders are heathens.

  • Lee, UK April 30, 2009, 1:31 am

    “The Icelandic government, believe it or not, have told me yesterday they have no intention of awarding me the Falcon Cross”…

  • cactus zonie April 30, 2009, 3:25 am

    This is just about as funny as the teen ager that called the White House pretending to be the President of Iceland.

  • JoeInVegas April 30, 2009, 4:21 am

    Maybe it wasn’t even someone in the government. Perhaps just a prankster that got her cell number.

  • Ljósmynd DE April 30, 2009, 6:26 am

    Carol Von der Wurst… sounds very funny in my German ears. 😉

    At times the president seems to sport some irritating behaviour, when it comes to communication with foreigners. When will his time be up?

    I am curious, who will receive the Falcon medal instead. I can’t imagine that this woman is going to set off to the president a second time.

  • Physchim62 April 30, 2009, 7:35 am

    @Hildigunnar, maybe that was the logic: Ólafur Ragnar was just trying to restore some balance to Iceland’s foreign relations!

  • Count V. April 30, 2009, 8:48 am

    Please check out the following comment aired on yesterday´s Kastljos — I thought it was pretty good! http://dagskra.ruv.is/sjonvarpid/4431373/2009/04/29/1/

  • Elín April 30, 2009, 1:52 pm

    How bizarre indeed. I have met this lady and she seemed incredibly uptight, especially for how relaxed everything seems to be in Iceland. I even wondered earlier this year if the Obama administration would be appointing someone much more hip to be ambassador to Iceland.

  • Physchim62 April 30, 2009, 2:17 pm

    However, Ólafur Ragnar should be careful, these things can get out of hand

  • Elín April 30, 2009, 2:25 pm

    Viggo Mortensen for US ambassador to Iceland!

  • Physchim62 April 30, 2009, 2:26 pm

    Actually, come to think of it, Professor Reinhardt suggests compensating Iceland “to the tune of, say, 275 percent of that country’s $14 billion 2006 GDP” in his now-famous “Bomb Iceland instead of Iran” article. Maybe this is Ólafur Ragnar’s great idea for resolving the kreppa.

  • Jessica April 30, 2009, 8:06 pm

    “oh, I will never get the Falcon medal – I write in English, you see, so I don’t count in Icelandic society….” Alda, I don’t know if windy-ass weather makes you feel more sarcastic, but I love it! I’m sure once you’ve been added to The Independent Party’s hate-list, then you will count in society ; ‘ )

  • mary April 30, 2009, 10:42 pm

    Apropos of nationality rather than politics, we have many great Irish writers, and they all write/wrote in English. If we ignored them we’d have very little literary history.
    Also in Wales, Dylan Thomas is one of our great writers but was not included in the school curriculum until recently, he didn’t speak a word of Welsh.
    So keep going, I don’t think you can be ignored for long!

  • alda April 30, 2009, 11:15 pm

    Jessica, Mary – thank you! 🙂
    I wasn’t being sarcastic, though — English-language blogs like mine are more or less ignored here. Only the foreign media is interested.

  • Jon May 1, 2009, 2:16 am

    So worldwide support gives you a one-up on the Icelandic government. Pretty cool!

  • Gary May 1, 2009, 9:49 am
  • JBJ May 4, 2009, 4:50 pm

    The theory was originally indeed that the Order of the Falcon was a badge of honor for doing something noteworthy or suchlike.

    However as you can see on the lists of those who get it (for example 2000-2009 you only have to come as a foreign visitor on an Official Visitation to get the medal, and in fact an Icelander getting the highest levels of the Order is only possible if you have been a prime minister of Iceland or suchlike. For foreigners, they just need to visit and they walk out with the highest tier as a “thank you for visiting”.

    It seems to be some protocol stuff, makes you wonder who decided to start it and what medals our Icelandic Official Visitations to other countries get, for the honor of paying a visit.