Norway was briefly without either its reigning monarch, King Harald, or its regent, Crown Prince Haakon, this week, after the crown prince and Crown Princess Mette-Marit flew off to New York before King Harald and Queen Sonja came home from a state visit to Slovakia. As usual, Mette-Marit attracted lots of photographers.
While only a few photos of the king and queen trickled in from Slovakia, scores showed up from New York where the crown prince and crown princess were making the rounds of Norwegian-American events and a visit to a peace institute led by former Norwegian diplomat Terje Rød-Larsen.
While there, the young Norwegian royals took part in a meeting on the UN’s Millennium Goals and Crown Prince Haakon’s role as an ambassador for the United Nations Development Program.
Other events included a luncheon and presentation of a Norwegian-American Trade Award, arranged by the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce, a visit to the Norwegian Seamens Church and attendance at an annual gala arranged by the American Scandinavian Foundation. Norwegians made up the second-largest single group of immigrants to the US in the 1880s and 1900s, and their millions of descendants are known for enthusiastically welcoming visits by Norwegian royals.
Meanwhile, King Harald and Queen Sonja returned from their state visit to Slovakia, where King Harald for the first time addressed the controversy surrounding his daughter, Princess Märtha Louise, who has said she not only communicates with angels but also with the dead.
The king is officially the head of Norway’s state church, which maintains that communication with the dead is a violation of church tenets. Asked how he reacted to his daughter’s activities, King Harald said that “it’s not always we as parents agree with our children. The important thing for us is that they know we love them.”
Calls have been made for the princess to give up her title, so that she could more freely say and do what she wants without public criticism. But King Harald said her title “basically just shows that she’s our daughter,” reported newspaper Aftenposten. “She’ll be that with or without a title, so I really don’t think it means much.”
Trond Nordby, a professor of political science at the University of Oslo, called King Harald’s remarks “foggy” and suggested the monarch should know better.
“Theologists and bishops have stressed that it’s heretical to communicate with the dead, and King Harald himself has insisted on retention of his duty to church tenets in the constitution,” Nordby said. “Then the princess, as fourth in line to the throne, shouldn’t be talking to the dead.”