Royals sell off their livestock

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Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit are giving up the farming business at their royal estate outside Oslo, and that’s spurred criticism from Norway’ powerful farming lobby. The crown couple’s cows were nonetheless all sold at auction over the weekend.

Crown Prince Haakon claimed it was “with a heavy heart” that they decided to halt years of tending livestock on the royal property at Skaugum, which formerly was the home of his parents (King Harald and Queen Sonja) and grandparents (the late King Olav when he lived at Skaugum with the late Crown Princess Martha). Haakon and Mette-Marit tried to maintain an organic farming operation but had trouble finding a custodian for it and claimed it didn’t make economic sense.

Their decision means the end of a 40-year career at Skaugum for Ola Aanonsen, who ran the royal farm but didn’t want to comment on the young royals’ decision to dissolve it.

Brita Skallerud of the farming organization Norges Bondelag didn’t hide her displeasure with the decision to end farming at Skaugum. She told reporters over the weekend that the royal farming has had “important symbolism” for the importance of Norwegian farmers, not least because the royals have been active in food production.

“This says something about the conditions for farming in Norway,” she said, questioning whether it’s possible to make a living from farming. She said it was “very sad” that Skaugum’s livestock operations were being suspended.

The royals’ 40 cows commanded prices of as much as NOK 19,000 (around USD 3,000) each. A palace spokeswoman said Haakon and Mette-Marit would try to lease out the land.

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