Royal family heads for the hills

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Members of Norway’s royal family will be spending their holidays in the hills above Oslo and up in the mountains. First, however, they posed for a carefully controlled photo session at the palace featuring a gingerbread house big enough for the youngest heir to throne to walk into.

Princess Ingrid Alexandra, who turns five next month, peeked out of the gingerbread (called pepperkake in Norway) house that she, her brothers and cousins had decorated.

She stands to be queen in the palace someday, but in the meantime, had to tolerate a scolding when she picked at the gingerbread and tried to eat some of it.

“Ingrid, don’t eat off the house, we’ve talked about that,” admonished her mother, Crown Princess Mette-Marit.

The “crown couple” and their family will spend Christmas at their new cabin in the mountains at Uvdal, not far from Geilo. Crown Prince Haakon and Mette-Marit were visiting a nursing home in Geilo on Monday and then were expected to retreat with their children until making the obligatory church appearance on Christmas Day, this year at the local Uvdal Church.The king and queen, meanwhile, planned to spend Christmas at their timber lodge in the hills above Oslo near Holmenkollen. They’ll be joined by their daughter Princess Martha Louise, her husband Ari Behn and their three daughters.

Because of construction around the ski jump at Holmenkollen, a visit to the local chapel will be replaced by a Christmas Day appearance at Ris Church, in a residential neighborhood just down the hill.

Ari Behn, who sparked several fights during the past year, told newspaper Moss Avis last week that he wants “peace around his family” for Christmas this year. Behn made waves when he publicly criticized a local magazine editor and former palace official, revealed that he’s been depressed and said he thought he might be kicked out of his own home someday.

Asked what his holiday wishes were, he said he wanted “to close the door and find some peace,” and hoped he’d get a new pair of football shoes.

He admitted that “there has pure and simple been a lot of fighting this year, lots of debate and showdowns, intense media-wise.” He was looking forward to spending Christmas with his inlaws.

“This year we’ll celebrate with at the svigers (the nickname for inlaws),” he said. “There will be both Norwegian and English food (a holdover from Queen Maud’s days in Norway, because she was an English princess). It will be good.”

PS: Photos of the royal children’s gingerbread house itself weren’t made available for general use, but can be viewed on the royals’ official web site .