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President Turns Down PM’s Escort to Airport

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President Turns Down PM’s Escort to Airport

Reykjavík Pride Parade, President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson

Guðni while addressing the Pride Parade. Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson has announced that he would like to change the tradition that the official who becomes acting president while the president is abroad—most often the prime minister—escorts the president to Iceland’s boarders.

“I believe it was only a matter of time before it was changed,” Guðni told RÚV. “With different times, new technology and more frequent foreign visits by the head-of-state, I believe it’s obvious to everyone that this is just one of the things that changes as time passes. It’s no big deal.”

Guðni, a historian by education who is an export on the history and traditions of the presidential office, explains that the tradition is an old heritage. “It’s from the time when the president traveled abroad with Gullfoss [passenger ship] and was bid farewell with a ceremony on the pier.”

Guðni said he doesn’t know yet whether he will change other traditions of the presidential office but expects to be rather conservative. However, each president will set his or her mark on the office, he added.

Inaugurated on August 1, Guðni has already done so. For example, he became the first Icelandic president—and presumably in the world—to address the Pride Parade on August 6, and on Saturday, he became the first president to compete in the Reykjavík Marathon—he finished the half-marathon in a good time: 1:43.37.

In between presidential duties, Guðni is currently helping one of youngest of his five children adapt to a new kindergarten, which is probably another first for the president of Iceland. The family is about to move from Seltjarnarnes to the presidential residence Bessastaðir in Álftanes, another neighboring town of Reykjavík.

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