The year was 999 when Icelandic explorer Leifur Eiríksson (Leif Erikson) became the first European to arrive in North America. He established a settlement at L’Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of Vínland, as he called Newfoundland in Canada.
And now, more than one thousand years later, Newfoundland and Iceland are set to merge as a one strong North Atlantic nation with 830,000 inhabitants under the official name The Kingdom of Leifurland.
It all started 15 years ago, when the then PM of Iceland Davíð Oddsson claimed Newfoundland as a joke in official visit to Ottawa. He stated that Leifur had claimed the island, which is exactly the same size as Iceland, as part of Iceland.
The government of Canada thought the idea was great and for 15 years, top-secret negotiations have been ongoing between the governments of the two states about the best way to go about uniting them.
Newfoundland has much more in common with Iceland than the rest of Canada, not only the weather, but also the mentality and the fishing heritage, which binds the two islands tightly together.
Leifurland will have to capitals, St. John’s in Newfoundland, which the king will call home, and Reykjavík, where the PM and the new parliament (called Leifr) will sit.
Leifurland will also have two official languages, English and Icelandic.
The biggest, and almost the only problem which surfaced during the secret meetings, was that the Newfoundlanders wanted to be part of the Commonwealth and have Queen Elisabeth II as their monarch.
The Icelanders, on the other hand, wanted a republic, but agreed to finding a royal person, not linked with the House of Windsor, to reign over Leifurland.
The first person on the list was Princess Madeleine of Sweden, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland. But she said no last November, after considering the proposal for over a year.
Second on the list was Georg Friedrich Ferdinand Prinz von Preußen, the great-great-grandson and historic heir of Wilhelm II, the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, but he refused straight away.
Eventually, Icelandic PM Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson asked his good friend, Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar, if he would be the king of Leifurland. He agreed yesterday.
Because of the time difference, there will be two celebrations. The first will take place at Austurvöllur square in Reykjavík at noon today. Then all dignitaries will fly to St. John’s to take part in a big ceremony and festival held on George Street at 6 pm tonight.
Páll Stefánsson – ps(at)icelandreview.com