When is a king really a knight? When he’s a penguin, of course. Yes, a king penguin has been granted knighthood. By those notoriously funny Norwegian Royal Guardsmen.
Nils Olav, a king penguin at Edinburgh Zoo, was knighted Friday 15 August at a ceremony conducted by Tattoo Chief Executive and Producer Major General Euan Loudon, acting on behalf of the King of Norway, King Harald V.
The king penguin already enjoyed the ‘rank’ of Honorary Colonel-in-Chief of His Majesty The King’s Guard of Norway after being adopted as a mascot by the Royal Guardsmen in 1972 and promoted through the ranks on five prior occasions.
The ceremony was attended by 130 members of His Majesty The King’s Guard of Norway – who are appearing at this month’s Edinburgh Tattoo – along with the Acting Norwegian Consul General in Edinburgh Mrs Kjellaug Myhre, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh George Grub and representatives of the Tattoo including Tattoo narrator Alasdair Hutton OBE TD, upon whose shoulders fell the task of reading the citation from King Harald V of Norway. The citation concluded:
“We being well satisfied with loyalty, courage and good endowments of Our Trusty and Well-beloved Nils Olav, and reposing entire trust and confidence in you as a Penguin every way qualified to receive the honour and dignity of Knighthood and the Office aforesaid.”
As Alasdair Hutton spoke, Nils Olav waddled through the assembled ranks of His Majesty The King’s Guard of Norway, where he was met by Tattoo Producer Major General Euan Louden bearing the sword of the Norwegian King, brought to Scotland especially for the ceremony.
Describing the event as “indeed an honour” as well as “probably a first in Scottish history” Euan Louden then tapped the penguin on both ‘shoulders’ and announced him ‘Sir Nils Olav’ to the applause of the gathered crowd.
Speaking after the ceremony, Alasdair Hutton said: “the penguin was very conscious of the honour bestowed on him. It was perfectly clear that he realised that he was carrying one of the highest honours that Norway could convey.”
More details here in the Daily Mail article where they report:
Darren McGarry, Animal Collection Manager at Edinburgh Zoo, said: ‘Nils always recognises the Norwegian Guardsmen when they come.
I’ll just bet he does. And this:
Norwegian King’s Guardsman, Captain Rune Wiik added: ‘We are extremely proud of Nils Olav and pleased that an enduring part of the Royal Guard is resident in Scotland helping to further strengthen ties between our two countries.
‘I understand he continues to carry out his duties as Honorary Colonel in Chief in an exemplary fashion and this latest award is clearly very much deserved.’
It would appear that, although most of the more vicious pillage-and-burn tactics of my Viking ancestors have faded into the mists of time, Norwegians are still invading Scotland with sword in hand to perform unnatural acts upon the hapless wildlife.
And you thought Norwegians were stoic and humourless.