As Princess Ingrid Alexandra arrived at her new private school on her mother’s 41st birthday Tuesday, she faced more than just renewed debate over her parents’ decision to transfer her from the family’s local public school in Asker. In addition to finding new friends, the 10-year-old heir to the throne also faces a daily commute, much longer school days and the need to communicate in a foreign language all day long at the Oslo International School in Bærum.
The debate first exploded in June, when Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit were publicly criticized for taking both their royal children out of public school. There’s a long tradition of Norwegian royals attending public school, and some politicians went so far as to say that putting the Princess Ingrid Alexandra and her younger brother, Prince Sverre Magnus, in private schools could lead to the end of the monarchy.
On Monday, Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that a new survey indicated that fully 30 percent of Norwegians questioned were negative about the royal children going to private school. Only 25 percent were positive and 41 had no opinion. The remainder were uncertain.
Sverre Magnus, now age eight, started his new school year on Monday at the private Montessori School in Oslo’s exclusive Vettakollen neighborhood near Holmenkollen. His parents managed to keep him out of the spotlight, as usual, and the public outcry hasn’t been as loud because Montessori attracts a wide range of children, some of them with special learning or behavioral challenges.
It’s not nearly as expensive as the Oslo International School (OIS) where the princess has been enrolled, either. OIS costs as much as NOK 100,000 (USD 16,000) a year, meaning the princess’ schoolmates mostly come from other affluent families, many of them the children of diplomats or executives with international companies. Critics worry that will limit her exposure to other more “ordinary” Norwegian children and their families.
The girl who’s destined to become Norway’s queen one day won’t even be speaking Norwegian during her relatively long school week that includes 35 hours of instruction, much more than in Norwegian schools. The so-called “working language” at the Oslo International School is English. Ingrid Alexandra was greeted in English when she arrived with her parents, grandmother and little brother on Tuesday, and she’ll need to communicate in English all day long.
Her parents think that will better prepare her for a life as Norway’s monarch, as will attending school with children from many different countries. The school also follows the International Primary Curriculum (IPC), and prepares students for higher education abroad as well as in Norway.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that the princess’ school day begins at 8:50am and runs past 3pm, with lots of mathematics, reading, writing and “literacy” classes. The hours devoted to IPC cover science, history, geography, technology and culture, with the princess also scheduled for course work devoted to spelling, art and drama. She’ll have three classes in Norwegian a week, on Monday, Tuesday and Friday afternoons.
She will get a 55-minute break for lunch every day, and the principal insisted she won’t get any special treatment. “When she goes in the door here, she’ll be a completely ordinary pupil, just like all the others at OIS,” Jannecke Aarnæs told NRK.