President Apologizes to US Ambassador to Iceland Skip to content

President Apologizes to US Ambassador to Iceland

President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson has apologized to the outgoing US Ambassador to Iceland, Carol van Voorst, for his office having mistakenly announced to her on April 8 that she would be honored with the Order of the Falcon, the highest recognition of the Icelandic state.

President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

RÚV’s news magazine Kastljós reported that when von Voorst was on her way to the presidential residence Bessastadir to formally accept the Order last Friday, she received a phone call explaining that the announcement had been sent by mistake and that she would not receive the Order after all, although she was still welcome to Bessastadir for a traditional farewell meeting.

According to Kastljós, von Voorst had to request special permission from US authorities to accept the Order of the Falcon, which was granted. She was displeased with how this matter had developed but still decided to meet the president.

Grímsson allegedly explained to her that only those who were deemed worthy were honored this way. Or at least that is how the ambassdor interpreted his words, according to Kastljós’s sources. In the past decades, three US Ambassadors to Iceland have received the Order of the Falcon.

Presidential secretary Örnólfur Thorsson told Morgunbladid that the mistake was entirely his. It had never been planned to honor van Voorst with the Order and her name had never been mentioned to Ólafur G. Einarsson, chairman of the Order committee.

Eidur Gudnason, a former Icelandic minister and ambassador, said this incident was incredibly rude on behalf of the presidential office. Since van Voorst had received an announcement that she would be granted the Order she should have received it, regardless of whether a misunderstanding was involved or not.

“The presidential office cannot revoke such a thing, that is simply ridiculous,” Gudnason said. When asked whether he thought this incident would have an impact on the diplomatic relations between Iceland and the US, Gudnason replied: “No, I think the Americans will just have a laugh about this.”

Carol van Voorst has served as the US Ambassador to Iceland since 2006.

Among those who recently received the Order of the Falcon was the Icelandic national handball team after bringing home the silver from the Olympics in Beijing last summer.

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