Haakon dubbed ‘coolest prince’ of all

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Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon made an appearance at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and Whistler, after weeks of jet-setting that took him from Switzerland to Kazakhstan before landing in Canada. While some Olympic medal hopes were dashed, Haakon could console himself with praise last week from one of US President Barack Obama’s many advisers, who called the young royal the “coolest prince on the planet.”

Crown Prince Haakon, age 36, has spent a lot of time in the air in recent weeks. His work and causes have taken him, among other places, to the World Economic Forum in Davos (photo, right), to the opening of a new Norwegian embassy in Kazakhstan and, last week, to a conference in London before he flew on to Vancouver for the first few days of the Winter Olympics.
It was in London that he received a new nickname, two in fact, according to newspaper Dagbladet. And they came from John Hope Bryant, an American activist and socially conscious businessman who’s among President Obama’s advisers on financial literacy.

“I call him the James Bond of Royalty,” Bryant told Dagbladet. “He’s the coolest prince on the planet! Humble, grounded and cool.”

Bryant’s praise reportedly embarrassed Haakon, who told Dagbladet “don’t listen to everything he says.” But Bryant, who has worked with the crown prince on a number of projects aimed at ending poverty and empowering the socially disadvantaged, was undeterred.

“He’s a quiet storm,” Bryant continued. “He doesn’t say much, and when he does, he’s careful,” adding that he thinks Haakon has “deep values, deep principles” and a keen sense of duty.

“He doesn’t have a huge group of personal assistants behind him,” Bryant said. “He rolls up his sleeves along with the rest of us.”

The two were appearing at a conference called “One Young World” that attracted around 500 youth from around the globe. They earlier founded “Global Dignity,” along with Finnish philosopher Pekka Himonen, to boost people’s rights to live a life with dignity. Their goal is to especially nurture a sense of dignity among the world’s youth.

In addition to his royal duties within Norway, which range from meeting government ministers on Fridays to touring rural areas, Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit have involved themselves in anti-poverty causes and the battle against HIV/AIDS. Haakon is currently traveling alone, though, since Mette-Marit was put on extended sick leave last week for a neck problem.

She’ll celebrate 10 years as a royal next summer, since she married Haakon in August 2001, and has allowed Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) to follow her around for a documentary on modern royal life. The program will capture her official duties, studies, leisure activities and family life, and is due to air in August 2011.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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