One of the police escorts for 12-year-old Princess Ingrid Alexandra accidentally fired a shot while on guard duty at her private school in Bærum, reports Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). No one was injured and the school’s rector is calling the incident “unfortunate.”
It occurred just three days before the young royal’s birthday in January, and has set off an investigation. NRK obtained access to a police report on the January 18 incident.
The report noted that the shot “was fired into the wall” of the royal guard’s guard station, set up just outside the school at Bekkestua in Oslo’s affluent suburb of Bærum. The report further noted that the shot “did not go through the wall” and confirmed there were no injuries. The firing was described as accidental.
The royal police escort is attached to the Oslo Police District and responsible for security around members of Norway’s royal family. While arming of the police has always been controversial in Norway, the royal bodyguards carry loaded pistols at all times, as do those attached to the police intelligence unit PST, which is responsible for the security of government ministers and other Norwegian authorities.
The shot was fired around 8:50am, during the first hour of classes at the school, and reported to the police operations central at 10:22am. A police team was then sent to the school and the police’s own internal affairs division was alerted.
Jannecke Aarnæs, rector at the private Oslo International School where the princess was controversially enrolled in 2014, told NRK that “there was no danger for pupils or employees at the school, because this occurred inside the guard’s station. I think it first and foremost was unfortunate for (the guard) involved.” Sveinung Sponheim, deputy police chief in Oslo, called it “an unwanted incident” that was under investigation. Officials at the Royal Palace had no further comment.
Royal children attended public schools in Norway until Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette Marit decided to enroll their daughter, now second in line to the throne after her father, and their son, Prince Sverre Magnus, in private schools. Ingrid Alexandra was transferred to the Oslo International School and Sverre Magnus to a Montessori school in Oslo, both from their local public school in Asker.
The move sparked unusually harsh criticism of the royal family, also from top politicians who claimed it sent “the wrong signals” about Norway’s public schools and would distance the royals from the people. Member of Parliament Martin Kolberg called it “a very clear move away from being part of the people,” while others complained it deprived the young royals of spending time with ordinary Norwegian children. At the Oslo International School, many of the students are children of expatriates and from high income households. Tuition when the princess began was reported to be NOK 81,000 a year.
‘Deficient’ Norwegian language training
More criticism flew last month when it was reported that the princess doesn’t need to study nynorsk, one of two official versions of the Norwegian language. The language, built on traditional Norwegian dialects, is not offered at the Oslo International School, where classes are taught in English and Norwegian is considered a foreign language. The crown couple had claimed that they wanted their daughter to become proficient in English from an early age, to better prepare her for her role as a monarch in a global society.
While many Norwegian students complain about having to study nynorsk in addition to the more widely used bokmål form of Norwegian, others claim the princess will miss out on an important part of the cultural heritage of the country where she one day is expected to be queen.
“Just symbolically, it’s unfortunate that the heir to the throne is exempt from learning nynorsk,” Marit Tennø, leader of the language organization Noregs Mållag, told news bureau NTB. “If students at such an elite school only learn one of the Norwegian languages, they’ll lack Norwegian competence.”