Royal rakes in royalties

Bookmark and Share

Princess Martha Louise is giving new meaning to the term royalties. She reportedly is earning a fortune on the book she wrote about angels with her partner Elisabeth Samnøy.

Princess Martha Louise and her husband, Ari Behn, at the royal wedding in Stockholm last summer. PHOTO: NRK/Views and News

They’ve been flying around Europe for months now, launching the book in ever more countries. And raking in ever more profits, according to newspaper Dagbladet, which reported Thursday that the book has sold for around NOK 8 million so far. Sales are brisk even though a professor of religion at the University of Bergen recently told news bureau NTB that there’s really nothing new in it.

It’s Martha Louise princess title that seems to be drawing the crowds, and getting people to open their wallets, according to Professor Dag Øistein Endsjø. “Despite the fact that Martha and her angel school (which is supposed to help its customers contact their guardian angels) don’t represent anything new in the genre, she and her partner are getting massive attention with her royal celebrity status,” Endsjø told NTB.

Another lecturer at the university, Siv Ellen Kraft, agreed. “The princess’ title has given her a lot of pull in Norway,” Kraft told NTB. “It hasn’t gone without mention in foreign media and that can awaken people’s curiosity.”

The princess continues to be be criticized over her commercial use of her royal title, and she continues to shrug it off. “I am a princess,” she has said, arguing that she should be allowed to use her title as a part of her identity.

‘Self-improvement and spiritualism’
Nearly 40,000 copies of her book with Samnøy,  Møt din skytsengel (Meet your guardian angel), have been published, along with 4,000 audio versions of the book. It’s already come out in Switzerland, Austria, Belgium and Sweden and now is being launched in Italy, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, in tandem with courses and speeches at so-called “angel conferences,” or alternative healing and therapy gatherings. There reportedly are plans to launch the book in the UK later this year.

“These are countries that have a long tradition of embracing new religious phenomena,” Endsjø said. “In addition to the celebrity aspect, the princess’ royal connections have a traditional religious dimension that will boost appeal further.”

Martha Louise insists she is not dealing with religion or the spirits, but rather self-improvement and spiritualism. “It’s typical for the new religious to claim that what they’re doing has nothing to do with religion,” said Endsjø. “They call it spiritualism, or self-development.”

Kraft attended one of Martha Louise’s courses in Tromsø. “I don’t think it differentiated from other course of this type,” she said. “It’s the same ingredients making the rounds.”

Ari makes dramatic debut
But neither she nor Endsjø think Martha Louise is simply out to make money. “Then she could have just gone to the US and continued with her children’s books and talkshows,” Endsjø said. “There are a lot worse things she could have found to believe in than angels,” added Kraft.

The princess’ other partner, husband Ari Behn, meanwhile, is making his own debut as a playwright. Rogaland Theater in western Norway is mounting a production of his play Treningstimen (roughly translated, “Exercise hour”), a drama about a married couple who appear to lead the perfect life but the wife ends up getting involved with her personal trainer at the gym.

Behn calls it a “burlesque satire.” He also has written several books, but none has achieved the acclaim of his first novel. Both he and his wife have largely stayed out of the media glare after their exploits last fall, when Behn was accused of using his royal ties in a modelling job and Martha Louise claimed she could talk to the dead.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
Click on our Readers Respond feature if you’d like to comment on this story.