Talks without a tie with Icelandic President

On 17th of November AUS volunteers, office team and AUS board members met with newly elected President of Iceland Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson.


After only 3 months since becoming president AUS volunteers had the opportunity to visit the President at his house Bessastaðir in Garðabær and had a rather informal talk.

Being a historian, he was a docent at the University of Iceland until his election and you can really feel that he is very experienced communicating with young people. You could hear the laughter in the president`s living room after almost every sentence he spoke.

After the traditional greetings and introductions the President declared how honoured and privileged he is by being in this position and how happy he is receiving people: “I love every single part of it. Meeting new people, chatting and learning new things – that’s one of the most exciting parts of it. So feel free to ask me anything you want to. And…just take it easy folks!”

He also shared how he and his family have been adapting to the new house and environment. The President has 5 children, 4 of them are quite young: 3, 5, 7 and 9 years old. They are loving life here, says Guðni Th Jóhannesson, but they also love crayons and it can be very tempting to colour in the old bible in the President’s library, which was written in the late 16th century in Iceland. We have to do something about it, before… something happens, the President concluded. Or he could just follow his butler`s advice – you can always just turn the page.

With the recent media discussions about the “wrong” length of his tie fresh in his memory, Guðni Th Jóhannesson shared this story with AUS team: “Did you tell them about the tie issue?” he asked his ex-student – now looking at his former professor in this different role. She replies that it was on the news. The President continued, “My tie was way too long and the fashion police in Iceland was not very positive. Somebody has to teach this guy, he is new in his job.” We suggested that the “Fashion police has been very hard on you” to which he replied, “Yes. Not only the tie but also the buff, the bandana I was wearing. Apparently you are not supposed to do that if you are a President. Nobody tells me these things! But now…(as he takes off his tie)…it is more informal. Yes!” And of course, we all cheered.