Funny, he didn't look like a king.
At least that's what Mark Glazier, a 13-year-old Boy Scout from Indianapolis said.
Glazier was standing outside a mess tent here at the National Boy Scout Jamboree, watching King Carl XVIK Gustaf of Sweden eat a lunch of pinto beans and barbecued ribs, the sauce for which was spiked with Pearl Beer -- something that cook E. L. (Bo) Brogden, a scout leader from Arlington, Tex., thought added just the right touch.
The 35-year-old man everyone was calling "Your Majesty" was wearing an official Swedish scout uniform: light blue jumper, navy shorts and knee socks. His red, white and blue official jamboree neckerchief was tied to perfection, Glazier and his friends agreed.
"I kind of expected somebody with all these fancy jewels and a cape and a crown. You know, older, with white hair and a long white beard," Glazier said.
"Maybe," said his friendk David Snyder from New Orleans, "but I'll bet he's getting some decent food -- and a lot of it."
The king was in the middle of a three-day inspection of this wilderness metropolis, a colorful 5,000-acre encampment of 32,000 scouts from all over the country and 28 nations, 90 miles from Washington.
Genial and soft-spoken -- his English is fluent, with a lifting accent -- the Boy Scout-turned-king spent his day wading through the thousands of scouts who crowded his every step, waiting for a glimpse of royalty.
After a surprise call on a scout troop and lunch with U.S. Army Secretary John Marsh, the king granted an audience under the green-and-white stiped "Home Town News" tent with 200 Boy Scout correspondents.
"I am very interested in scouting," he told a packed house of youthful reporters equipped with cameras, tape recorders equipped with cameras, tape recorders and pads of paper. "I thought it would be nice to get to know scouts in this country; what they look like, how they were behaving. There seemed to be no complaints from the boys, though some are worried about not getting their showers in the morning."
The king carries the titles of Patron of Swedish Scouting and Honorary President of the World Scouting Foundation.
Telling the boy reporters he already had met Smokey the Bear and was looking forward to making the acquaintence of Woodsy Owl, the king answered questions about environmental issues and co-ed scouting in Sweden. He declined to answer a questionb about nuclear energy and armaments.
"I am not in a position to answer that question," the king said, smiling at embarrassed scout officials.
Rushing to a bank of typewriters after the conference to file stories for hometown papers and radio stations, the scouts said that even if Gustaf might not resemble their idea of royalty, they were glad he could make it.
"He was a lot younger and more interesting than I thought he would be," said Paul Knudsen, 17, special correspondent for the Park Rapids (Minn.) Enterprise. "He was a pretty down-to-earth guy, like any guy off the street," said Knudsen, who then turned back to his typewriter, hot on deadline.