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Saturday, April 20, 2024

Crown princess also mum on yacht

Crown Princess Mette-Marit was also confronted by reporters this week who wanted to know who paid for her royal family’s luxurious holiday on board one of the most expensive yachts in the world this summer. The royal refusal to answer questions about the couple’s latest jet-set holiday is a sign, according to a Norwegian philosopher, that they’re living in the past.
Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit live a life of privilege and have powerful connections. Now they’re under harsh criticism for failing to be more open about them. PHOTO:

“This is a difficult and unaccustomed situation for Crown Prince Haakon,” Einar Øverenget, a Norwegian philosopher, author and public speaker, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), after watching the crown prince mumble and stammer in front of reporters Monday afternoon, when he would only say that “a friend” had invited them on the yacht Mia Elise. He refused to identify the friend, saying only that the person had little if any relation to Norway.

On Tuesday, Crown Princess Mette-Marit had to face questions as well, when she appeared in public to encourage children to read books. She was as tight-lipped as her husband about the yacht holiday, while communications chief Marianne Hagen at the Royal Palace continues to face harsh criticism for failing to communicate at all. Commentators have written that Hagen is desperately hanging on to the “principle” that palace staff won’t comment on the royal couple’s private program.

“When the crown couple accepts such a lavish gift, as a holiday on such a yacht surely is, it’s no longer a private matter,” editorialized newspaper Aftenposten on Wednesday. “It raises inevitable questions about what kind of relations and possible ties there are between the donor and the heir to the throne.”

‘Luxury trap’
The royal fuss continued in other media as well, with newspaper Dagsavisen writing on Wednesday that the royals had fallen into a “luxury trap” and needed to recognize they have a problem. The newspaper noted that the royal family is not legally held to the same financial disclosure rules set by law for other Norwegian public servants, “but the Parliament should do something about that soonest. The Royal Palace recives more than NOK 200 million a year of taxpayers’ money, and it should also be better accounted for.”

Kjersti Løken Stavrum, secretary general of Norway’s national press federation (Norsk Presseforbund), called the issue “a stone in the shoes of the crown couple. At some point, it will become known who paid for their holiday, and it should become known.” She said the ongoing controversy and debate over the holiday means it “no longer amounts to an ordinary visit with friends.”

Prime Minister Erna Solberg of the Conservatives has suggested that the royal secrecy may damage the monarchy, while Bjørnar Moxnes, leader of the Reds party at the other end of Norway’s political spectrum, said the crown prince “clearly has a problem explaining” the holiday. “I don’t think anyone became any wiser from his mumbling on Monday.”

‘Can’t live with the uncertainty’
A few ordinary citizens came to the royals’ defense, writing letters to the editor of Aftenposten in which they claimed that the crown prince must be allowed to vacation with friends, and that yachts in the Mediterranean are usual. Another wrote that the crown couple “does an outstanding job” for Norway and shouldn’t be criticized.

Other feel they should be held accountable, with Moxnes claiming the royals could have ended the entire controversy swirling around them if they’d only been open about the holiday. “We can’t live with the uncertainty about possible economic ties and vacations with friends,” he said. “They have been treated to a luxurious holiday and refuse to say who paid. Many people are wondering whether there are any hidden ties here.”

Øverenget noted that Norwegians are always “on guard about everyone with power who get involved in financial ties. Those ties must be neutralized with openness.” The royals may not see it as a problem that they don’t want to be open, “but they should ask themselves how others view this.”

He concluded that their lack of openness is “old-fashioned,” and a demonstration “that they stand apart from the people and their governance. They don’t have political power, but they have strong symbolic power. It’s hard to find another powerful institution that shouldn’t be open about such ties.” Berglund



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