King favoured, but posted a loss

Norway’s King Harald once again ranks as the most popular member of the royal family, while his son-in-law Ari Behn landed as least popular in a recent public opinion poll. The king’s popularity and activities led to a boost in funding last year, but palace operations still ended up posting a loss.

The vast majority of Norwegians think King Harald is doing a good job. The same can't be said for all family members. PHOTO: Kongehuset.no

The vast majority of Norwegians think King Harald is doing a good job. The same can’t be said for all family members. PHOTO: Kongehuset.no

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Friday that the annual results for 2012 show a budget deficit of NOK 5.7 million, even though the state raised its annual funding of the royal household to NOK 156.24 million. That was up by NOK 4 million in 2011, when the royal accounts also produced a budget surplus of NOK 11 million.

The accounts for the crown prince and his family also ended up in the red, with expenses running NOK 466,000 higher than the NOK 16.7 million that the crown prince and crown princess received from the state.

The deficits were tied to increases in staff and travel expenses, while maintenance projects have also been a major item at the Royal Palace in Oslo.

King Harald, meanwhile, recently topped a public opinion poll reported by newspaper Dagbladet in which 91 percent of Norwegians asked said they think the 75-year-old monarch is doing a good job. Fully 75 percent of those questioned answered “no” when asked whether he should abdicate in favour of his son, Crown Prince Haakon.

The crown prince, meanwhile, was next most-popular with the public, with 85 percent saying he’s doing a good job when representing the monarchy. Queen Sonja won the nod from 80 percent, while 63 percent think the royals’ daughter-in-law, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, is doing a good job.

Martha Louise and husband lowest
By contrast, only 16 percent think Princess Martha Louise , the crown prince’s older sister, represents the royal family well, and her husband, author Ari Behn, scored even worse. Fully 72 percent responded that he’s doing a poor job.

The princess and Behn moved to London last autumn with their three young daughters and Behn recently told the magazine Massiv that he doesn’t want to return to Norway. He had also told Oslo magazine VG Helg that he’d felt he needed “a new life” and wanted to leave Norway, at least for a few years.

Behn has called London “very liberating,” and that he’s been in better humour after going through therapy and admitting that he’s had periods where he drinks “too much.” He told Massiv he changes personality when he drinks too much and that he doesn’t drink when the children are around.

Fends off ‘bullying’
He launched another broadside, meanwhile, against language professor Finn-Erik Vinje, who has criticized the names that the princess and Behn chose for their daughters: Maud Angelica (now age nine), Leah Isadora (seven) and Emma Tallulah (four). Behn accuse Vinje of “bullying,” a charge Vinje denied.

“I still believe the children’s parents have broken good, Norwegian tradition,” Vinje told newspaper VG. He said that being part of the royal family carries with it “certain demands” with solid, historic names like Haakon, Olav and Harald, also Ragnhild and Astrid. “Then comes the angel princess (referring to Princess Martha Louise’s work to help clients communicate with the guardian angels) and breaks this tradition because she is so fervent in her adoption of alternative currents,” Vinje said, adding that he thinks it will be hard for a child in Norway to carry the name “Tallulah.”

Behn, meanwhile, is delayed in his work on a new novel but has been busy launching a new line of artwork that included a drawing of convicted terrorist Anders Behring Breivik with his head on a stake. He debuted as an artist at an exhibit in Geilo during the Easter holidays, while newspaper Aftenposten recently reported Behn had been “action-painting” in a London park, inspired by American artist Jackson Pollock.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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