Saint Paul Winter Carnival - Protecting King Boreas and the Queen of the Snows since 1916

Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Order of the Royal Guard

Protecting King Boreas and the Queen of the Snows since 1916

The History of the Order of the Royal Guard

In the 1880’s, St. Paul Minnesota was among the fastest growing cities in the country, prompting several newspaper correspondents to visit in 1885. Unfortunately, when they returned home their review was unfavorable, reporting St. Paul to be “another Siberia and unfit for habitation in the winter.” However, local business leaders including James J. Hill were unfazed and wanted to find a way to show the world that Minnesotans do not only survive in the winter but thrive. The result was the first St. Paul Winter Carnival in 1886, with a spectacular ice palace as its centerpiece. This tradition continues on to this day, making the St. Paul Winter Carnival the largest and oldest winter festival in the nation. The modern festival is themed around the legend of the mighty monarch of ice and snow King Boreas Rex, who rules over icy realm of St. Paul alongside Aurora, Queen of the Snows, his four brothers and their princesses, his Prime minister, and of course Klondike Kate. Throughout their travels, since their founding in 1916, the royal family and the realm is protected by the King’s Guard, from the archrival of Boreas, the fire king Vulcanus Rex and his crew.

While the King’s Guard has been a Winter Carnival tradition for over a century, the Order of the Royal Guard came into its own following the end of World War II. Between 1950 through 1958, later known as the “educational era” of the King’s Guard, the protectors of the realm were selected from the three major colleges in the area, including Hamline, Macalester, and St. Thomas, with St. Thomas being used exclusively from 1950-1952. The current volunteer format of the Order of the Royal Guard, that is still used today, was cemented in 1959, and the organization celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2019.

Today, being a part of the King’s Guard offers an exciting and unique opportunity to participate as volunteers in the St. Paul Winter Carnival. The King’s Guard is made up of a different team of volunteers from year to year and consists of a contingent of up to 10 guards lead by a captain and sergeant. The King’s Guard, along with the Royal Family, make 300+ appearances throughout their year long reign. Approximately 100 of these appearances occur during the official 10 days of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, with the remaining appearances spread out throughout the remainder of the year. In addition to attending community festivals and events, the King’s Guard will participate in local parades, volunteer within their community, and spend time visiting schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and local businesses. Many of these appearances are within the Twin Cities Metro area, and additionally, the Royal Family also travels to various cities around the state as well as Wisconsin. The royal family also will have the opportunity to travel to festivals around the country, as well as internationally, including Festival du Voyageur in Winnipeg, Canada, and the Hernando DeSoto Festival in Bradenton, Florida to name a few.

The Order of the Royal Guard is always looking for new volunteers to help in the continuation of this century long St. Paul Winter Carnival tradition. Protect the Realm and join the Guard!