Crown Prince Haakon went to the unusual step on Wednesday of defending his sister, Princess Martha Louise, after she set off more controversy by suggesting she can communicate with the dead. The princess also defended herself.
Members of the royal family normally don’t comment on criticism leveled against them, but Haakon apparently felt a need to address the concerns raised by Norwegian bishops and other religious leaders earlier this week. They didn’t like reading comments made by the princess in newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad, in which she suggested it was as easy for her to make contact with the dead as it is with angels. The princess has attracted widespread publicity for her earlier claims of being able to communicate with angels, and she makes money trying to help others get in touch with their angels.
The crown prince, attending a youth conference on respect in Drammen on Wednesday, opened his remarks by saying that instead of “talking behind people’s backs,” he preferred to talk in front of them, and forward their interests.
“I have a very good sister,” he said. “She is caring and genuinely concerned with taking care of other people. I won’t go into more details about that, because you know what I’m talking about.”
He thus refrained from commenting on her claims or angel-related activities, while the princess herself did. She went to the equally unusual step of sending out a press release and holding a press conference, where she insisted that the course she teaches (and for which attendees pay her thousands of kroner to attend) has nothing to do with religion. Her partner Elisabeth Samnøy appeared with her at the press conference (PicApp photo, Martha Louise (left) and Samnøy promoting their book on how people can find their guardian angels, in Germany earlier this year.)
“The theme of the course (being conducted near Stavanger this week) will not focus on contact with the dead. On the contrary, is about life’s possibilities and meetings with guardian angels,” she wrote.
She once again blamed the media for stirring up the controversy, even though the bishops approached the media on their own initiative, upset because her comments about the dead defied the teachings of the Norwegian Lutheran church. The princess claims her quotes were taken out of context and accused the media of bullying.
“We operate with personal development … not with conjuring up the spirits,” she said at a press conference later in the day.
She dismissed all questions regarding any contact she has with the dead. “That’s not part of our operation,” she said.
No comment on Behn
There’s been no comment from the Royal Palace on the latest controversy around the princess, nor on her husband Ari Behn, who’s been accused of exploiting his royal connection for commercial gain, by appearing as a “royal” model in a clothing manufacturer’s campaign. Norway’s royal family shies away from any commercial associations and allows no “royal purveyorships,” unlike other royal families in Denmark and Great Britain, for example.
One critic, the head of an advertising bureau in Oslo, said Behn probably has earned a few hundred thousand kroner on the modeling job and told newspaper Aftenposten that “it’s a problem” when the king and queen and the crown couple “build up the royal family’s credibility, while the Behn couple tears it down.”
Royal biographer Tor Bomann-Larsen noted that Princess Martha Louise remains fourth in line as an heir to the throne, but “her many activities … make it difficult for the bishops and others to see her in a role as queen.” As long as she remains a royal heir (which she could give up if she wanted to) “questions will always be raised around her activities. That’s a problem for the royal house.”