CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour is well known for conducting tough interviews and questioning authority both out in the field and in the studio. She had Norway’s young royals on her show Friday night, but many of her questions went unanswered.
The show got off to a promising start, with an introductory piece questioning the role of royalty in the 21st century. Guests interviewed by Amanpour included Queen Rania of Jordan, followed by Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit.
All three had been in New York in connection with the opening of the UN and the Clinton Global Initiative. Both the Jordanian queen and the Norwegian royals are involved in efforts to raise awareness of social challenges such as global education for children, human rights and HIV/AIDS.
Amanpour started out by asking the Norwegian crown prince and princess whether they thought royalty was relevant, but her question was never answered. Nor were several others, because Amanpour either didn’t follow up or had too many questions and too little time.
As for the relevancy issue, Crown Prince Haakon (roughly pronounced “hoe-ken,” not the “hawk-ken” used by Amanpour) noted that “in the Norwegian case,” establishing the monarchy in 1905 was a democratic decision since his great-grandfather, born a Danish prince, asked for a public vote of approval.”I must admit that was a long time ago,” allowed Haakon with a laugh, but there was no follow-up as to whether that might suggest Haakon himself questions royal relevancy. Instead, Amanpour launched into other issues, and viewers got no insight into the young royals’ own thoughts on the future of the monarchy.
Amanpour also asked Crown Princess Mette-Marit why she chose HIV/AIDS as her primary cause, but viewers never got an answer other than Mette-Marit saying it was important to focus on young women and girls in efforts to educate people about the disease and how to protect themselves.
When asked about his recent visit to Afghanistan, Haakon said without hesitation that “I can’t get into the politics (of whether Norway should have troops in Afghanistan), I must leave that to the politicians. I was there to support the troops.”
Amanpour also got around to Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s distinctly un-royal background, noting there was public disapproval because she was an unwed mother with a history of partying when she met Haakon. The crown princess said the “process we went through” when she joined the royal family “was one of the most interesting in my life … it gave me strength.”
She admitted “it took a bit of time” to find “a comfort level” in her new role, at which point Haakon interrupted to note that “I could see all her qualities” and that he fully expected the Norwegian people eventually would as well.
As for Mette-Marit’s son by an earlier relationship, she noted that he was only three years old when they married, “younger when we met,” so he’s now been part of the royal family most of his life.
Most of the interview gave the royals a chance to talk about their humanitarian work, with both of them involved in UN projects. Haakon, who’s also been on a campaign to raise individuals’ sense of dignity, said that amidst all the trouble in the world, it’s also important to savour accomplishments.
“We have come far,” said, noting that many people have been lifted out of poverty. “We need to pause and focus on our victories.”