Royal jetty raises tempers

Debate was raging in online forums this week, after news broke that Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit had won special permission to build a new jetty on the island where they’re renting a summer house off Kristiansand. Environmental activists are furious, with the Green Party (Miljøpartiet de Grønne) claiming it’s a “terrible” case of the royals getting special treatment.

The royal couple and their children celebrated Crown Prince Haakon's 37th birthday at their rented villa off Kristiansand last summer. PHOTO: Kongehuset.no

“I think it’s a terrible case of discrimination,” Hans Petter Horve of the Greens told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “I will try to get their permission reversed.”

Horve, who is a member of the City Council in Kristiansand, said the special permission to violate local building codes and build the jetty was approved at an administrative level and did not come up before politicians. “If ‘Ola Nordmann’ (the local equivalent of John Doe) had applied, he would never have received permission,” Horve said. “And I don’t see the point here. They (Haakon and Mette-Marit) already have a jetty they’re using.”

The royal couple’s renting of a publicly owned home on the island of Dvergsøya for their private use, and their subsequent fencing-off of what were public lands, already has stirred controversy. Now the jetty has angered some along the southern coast known as Sørlandet.

On a daily basis, the couple claims “they want to be treated like everyone else,” wrote one man taking part in a lengthy online debate on the issue. “But when they want to have their special privileges, then they get so very royal. Makes me sick.”

It’s certainly not the first time the royals have been granted such privileges, even when they directly violate local environmental rules and building or zoning codes. Princess Martha Louise also has secured special treatment for building projects both at her home in Lommedalen outside Oslo and at her summer home on the island of Hankø. The royals generally get what they want in Norway, observed another debate participant.

Local planning boss Gunnar Stavrum rejected all the criticism. He told NRK that the royal couple’s decision to rent the house on the island called for various “security measures” to be put in place, and he claims the new brygge is merely “part of a total package” of such measures.

Stavrum also argued that the offensive jetty, built in a coastal zone where no building otherwise is allowed, can “easily” be dismantled when the royal lease on the property expires.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
Click on our Readers Respond feature if you’d like to comment on this story.