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Magasinet’s recent interview with Mette-Marit – a summary in English (100 things #14)

Before Princess Madeleine’s wedding, Crown Princess Mette-Marit stopped up in Burma on the way home from the Women deliver conference in Malaysia. She travelled around visiting humanitarian projects both with PSI, the Norwegian Red Cross and the Norwegian People’s Aid. Magasinet, the Saturday magazine that comes with Dagbladet, was invited to join in her trip and interview her. The interview is available in a paid Norwegian version online, but I’ve bought the paper version and is using that as my basis for the following English summary and translation.

The court got the questions in advance, but from the process described, it seemed more like they estimated what the Crown Princess would answer and would prefer to talk about to make a good interview, rather than censoring the journalist, or rehashing things she’s been asked a thousand times before.

The majority of the 12 pages of interview and pictures describes the visit to Burma and the people she meet there. She had traveled around Burma for a week prior to the interview, talked to doctors in the country about what they see as health challenges in Burma.

I have taken out some of the quotations and things she talked about beyond that below.

  • “The most important thing right now is to support young women. Give them education, keep them healthy. That’s the key to this society. Yes, that’s how we can make the world go forward.” 
  • “The work I do internationally now has different pillars. To me, it is important that the work turns forwards. If we don’t invest in young people, we won’t solve the development problems we have.”
  • “The word hjertesak [issues close to my heart] becomes strange to me in this situation. It is not my emotions that are the issue here. Rather, I think, this is where I have the most return for my time. I see it is as an important part of the work I do, to see where I can make a difference. It is a strategic judgement, not based on where I feel like I want to work.”
  • “I am truly privileged in all aspects. If I didn’t do anything to help people around the world, if I didn’t choose to use my life to do this, I almost feel like I’m doing something wrong. Just being born in Norway is a gift. I’m fortunate to be allowed to travel and see people grow up elsewhere. Because I then see the possibilities we have in Norway.”
  • One of the major things in her life recently was talking to her children for half an hour on the phone after not having talked to them for a week.
  • “I want my children to not feel that the world is the way they experience it every day at school.”
  • Her inspiration comes from some of the strong women she meets through her work.
  • Discussion on reading about strong women when growing up.
  • “I love going to the theatre, to go see quality movies. But there is something that makes me not make that a priority. It’s sad. But I think it is the case for many. We can’t make the right priorities. Especially with the constant feed from this…” [touches the cell phone].
  • A bit of talk on Young Global Leaders and the friends she has made through that – which makes the news from around the world hit closer to home.
  • “The most important thing I learnt was when I was 14 and started working. Mom sent me out to work, we had to get up at six to be at work by seven. And we biked from Langenes to Søgne, at least half an hour on bike. It felt very cumbersome, at least in the morning. My cousin and I were strawberry pickers. After that, I kept working at the Railroad café in Kristiansand. I had plenty of jobs. It was a toil. Even if I have romanticised it in my head. I’m glad Mom was determined. I’ve become aware that nothing comes for free. You have to work for it. It has been important in how I view my life. I have been given a good work ethic. I haven’t quite succeeded in imparting this to my own children yet. But it is important to me that they learn that the only thing that counts is to work hard. Norway needs the competency the young have in the workplace if we want to be a successful society in the future.”
  • [About being criticised] “It’s not often I care about what’s being written about me in the public sphere. But what can be challenging is to be taken into the room where it is only the lighter things that count. When it is only about clothes, and shoes, and hair and stuff. I have difficulties relating to that. Because it is so far from who I am. If I’m only associated with that all the time, it becomes tiresome. I have to work to get over it. And I find that complicated. Because I don’t want to be, or am, there as a human.”
  • [On the critique that she spends tons of money on clothes she wears on conferences, and meeting poor people, and bringing a stylist along on this trip] “There are some lines drawn up in this role I have, on how to dress and how to behave and everything like that. I try to stay within to those lines, and I can see a certain use in relating to them. But if there is something I think I have to work on, it is the critique I get for that.”
  • [The only report that  Norwegian media wrote about on her attendance on the Women deliver conference was a review of an outfit] “Yes! Is that what we’re spending time doing? Sure. They might as well write it, but it should also be something else that comes out of it. That has substance. For four days I participated, was on panels, gave speeches and joined in important things. So when people are only interested what shoes or clothes I am wearing, there is something wrong, somewhere.”
  • “I had a mother who believed in me. ‘Mette, you can be whatever you want in the world’ Mom said. And I believed her.”
  • “I have to thank my mother-in-law, the Queen, for raising my husband to be the man that he is. I travel more than him right now, and he is home with the children. I have more work travel than he does, and it might continue like this for a while.”

The interview ended with Mette-Marit flying to the wedding in Stockholm.

And of course, she ended up being criticised after the interview, for how much she spends on clothes.

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