Controversial royal visit to weapons producer proceeded as planned

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Crown Prince Haakon went ahead with his planned visit to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth, Texas this week amidst criticism back home in Norway. The visit had been criticized because of Lockheed Martin’s history of making cluster bombs and because it was seen as a “PR coup” for the huge defense contractor.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit laughs as her husband tries on a 360-degree video technology device at Innovation House in Palo Alto, California. PHOTO: kongehuset.no

Crown Princess Mette-Marit laughs as her husband tries on a 360-degree video technology device at Innovation House in Palo Alto, California. PHOTO: kongehuset.no

The Royal Palace ignored the criticism in its official account of the visit, where the crown prince was accompanied by major Norwegian defense industry firms Kongsberg, Nammo and Kitron. All stand to gain from the Norwegian government’s decision to buy new F35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin, in what’s been called the most expensive non-offshore deal ever agreed to in Norway.

Crown Prince Haakon has earlier fronted campaigns against cluster bombs, prompting many to view his visit as a paradox even though Lockheed Martin claims it’s no longer involved in cluster bomb production. The Norwegian charitable organization Norsk Folkehjelp (Norwegian People’s Aid) joined the critics of the visit this week, but added they were encouraged by Lockheed Martin’s claim. Norway’s own huge sovereign wealth fund nonetheless continues to refuse to invest in Lockheed Martin because of its cluster bomb involvement.

Author William Hartung, who has written a critical book about Lockheed Martin entitled “Prophets of War,” told newspaper Dagsavisen that the crown prince’s visit amounted to “huge free publicity” for Lockheed Martin, and felt the crown prince was being exploited. The palace merely reported that the crown prince was given an overview of the production of the new fighter jets and visited the production line.

He then flew on to San Francisco to join his wife, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, as the couple wound up a four-day official visit to the US. After her visit to the Norwegian Seamen’s Church on Hyde Street, the couple was scheduled to attend a concert by the Norwegian punk-metal band Kvelertak, a seminar on tourism and a gathering related to technology and innovation in Palo Alto.

newsinenglish.no staff