Royals revert to ‘everyday’ life

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Crown Prince Haakon and his family have returned from a two-month-long holiday in the Middle East and Asia, only for the heir to the throne and Crown Princess Mette-Marit to immediately spend more time out of the country attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit, shown here in a new official portrait, will be readjusting to their official lives after more than two months off on holiday. PHOTO: Sølve Sundsbø/Det Kongelige Hoff

The kronprinsparet (literally, “crown prince couple”) described their extended vacation as a “huge experience for the whole family,” although they stopped short of recommending such a long holiday to other Norwegians.

The royal couple preferred to call it an “educational trip” for their three children – Mette-Marit’s son (by a previous partner) Marius Borg Høiby (13), Princess Ingrid Alexandra (7), and Prince Sverre Magnus (4) – lasted from late November until this week. The parents had received criticism in November for pulling their children out of school for such a long period, and were quick to stress that they had agreed a teaching plan with their children’s teachers in advance of the holiday.

Mette-Marit suggested that the children had indeed learned from the trip, both in terms of appreciating the need for patience when travelling with each other and understanding that some cultures “live differently than we do at home.” She described the “treasure” of spending so much time with the family as the high point of the trip. Haakon added that it had been “a lovely experience” to see their children “find new friends and get new perspectives.”

The Crown Princess was also keen to stress that it had been a learning experience for the parents, too. She enjoyed “getting a deeper knowledge from places where we participated in people’s daily lives”, and sees this as a “basis for reflection on how we have it in Norway, and our own role.” The family visited Turkey, Jordan and India, among other countries, but details of their trip were never revealed.

On being asked if she would recommend such a long vacation to other Norwegian families, Mette-Marit answered that this was something others “have to decide themselves.” Her reticence in making a recommendation is thought to stem from the fact that she has missed her mother and pet dog Milly Kakao so much during the two-month long holiday.

This new royal portrait of (from left) King Harald, Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit has stirred some debate. PHOTO: Sølve Sundsbø/Det Kongelige Hoff

The family ended up in Switzerland, where Mette-Marit stayed while Haakon took the children home. Then he turned around and returned to join his wife at the World Economic Forum in Davos. The crown prince has attended several times, but this year marks the first time the Crown Princess has participated, and she told reporters from newspaper Aftenposten and other Norwegian media that she was impressed with the “exciting people and interesting themes” on show. Haakon has been involved with the WEF’s Young Global Leaders (YGL) initiative – a global network of 750 aspiring leaders in business, politics and other fields – since 2005, and was recently elected to its governing committee. He joked with the press, much to his wife’s apparent embarrassment, that Mette-Marit had previously not wished to merely “come along as ‘spouse’,” and that now he was the one to accompany her in that role.

Meanwhile, the royals have also been in the local news this week because of criticism over their new official portraits. The photographer behind the recently released pictures, Sølve Sundsbø, is best known for his fashion photography and has received both heavy criticism and high praise for his new portrait of King Harald, Queen Sonja and the Crown Prince and Princess. One fellow professional told Aftenposten that “the choice of lighting, background, composition, placing and anatomy are wrong” in Sundsbø’s latest official photograph. In contrast, some magazine editors have reportedly compared the way that the photographer has captured the Crown Princess to pictures of Grace Kelly.

One former royal photographer, Cristian Frederik Wesenberg, told website foto.no that “it is typically Norwegian to be best at criticizing others.”

Views and News from Norway/Aled-Dilwyn Fisher
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