Märtha Louise and Ari Behn to divorce – translation of official press release

Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn have decided to leave each other. (press release in Norwegian here)

Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn got married in Nidarosdomen in Trondheim on May 24th, 2002. They have Maud Angelica Behn, born 29. April 2003, Leah Isadora Behn, born 8. April 2005, and Emma Tallulah Behn, born 29. September 2008, together. The parents will have joint custody, and the children will still attend the same schools.

The princess will remain living in Lommedalen. The Princess will also keep the family property “Bloksbjerg” at Hankø. Both of the properties were, and are, under her separate ownership. Ari Behn will find a place to live close by the children.

The princess says: “Life doesn’t always go the way you plan. Both Ari and I have experienced this. But it is even more visible now, when life have done some turnabouts we couldn’t have imagined. We are separating. We are ending our marriage, but staying joint together in parenting our daughters.

It is incredibly sad for both of us to discover that the road ahead isn’t moving the way it used to. We have, as many others, grown apart – to places where we don’t meet as we used to. It is horrible to discover that there isn’t more to do about it. That we have tried everything, over a long period of time, and we still cannot meet where we used to, makes it impossible for us to go on.

We feel guilty because we cannot keep making the safe harbour our children deserve. But we hope and believe that we can retain our friendship through whatever lies ahead.

We ask and hope that we can have calm in this vulnerable process. Our children need time to digest, mourn and find new footing – each and every one of them. We are only humans, we too.”

The king and queen says:

“Many people are wounded when a marriage fail. It is hurtful and sad, also for those of us who are surrounding them. We love Ari, and are thankful for everything we as a family have experienced together. We would like to have a good relationship with Ari also in the future. ”

Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn do not wish to give further comments. They ask that the children still can be spared all press attention.

In January 2002 the Princess established her own commercial business, and she takes hand of it herself. The princess did, at the same time, renounce her HRH-title. Today she owns and runs the company Soulspring with Elisabeth Nordeng.

Birkebeiner ski race

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Prince Frederik will both be skiing the Birkebeiner race this Saturday – so of course the newspaper have titled it the duel of the Crown Princes.

The Birkebeiner ski race is 54 km long, and goes from Rena to Lillehammer. It commemorates the rescue in 1206 of the young Håkon Håkonsson – the heir to the Norwegian throne, according to the Birkebeiner faction. The rescue went on skis from Lillehammer to Østerdalen, as two warriors carried the young prince on his way to safety. To further symbolise the event, all the skiers will carry a backpack weighing 3.5 kgs, about the same as someone the age of the prince would have weighed.

King Olav’s grandchildren remember him

It recently was 25 years since King Olav passed away. Almost all of his grandchildren* gathered at Skaugum to share some of their memories of him. NRK has the video here.

It is kind of an awkward video setting, but there are some great stories shared. How he was different with his grandchildren – Haakon and Märtha Louise got treated more formally as they were Prince and Princess, whereas the other grandchildren got to stay in jeans when they visited him. (To the shock of Princess Astrid.) And when they were heading out to a party (after they were confirmed), he would give them a bottle of wine to bring with to the party.

The Ferner siblings had the greatest stories, because they are older than Haakon and Märtha Louise and lived closer than Haakon Lorentzen and Ingeborg Lorentzen. One of them told a story when she was Christmas shopping with King Olav in London (as he would do every year.) and it included a trip to watch Arsenal play. After the match it was seen as a matter of fact that the King (being an honorary member/VIP) would want to visit the team in the dressing room. Only he hadn’t realised what that would involve for his 21 year old granddaughter who was accompanying him, into the dressing room of changing, half-naked/naked football players. It was apparently awkward. (Surely, there is a fiction novel in that premise somewhere…)

Also when Queen Elizabeth II visited, Haakon and Märtha Louise had to attend the luncheon, but the other children/teens didn’t. They were scheduled to meet her, but the lunch was delayed, so they were stuck in the hallway and played dressing up with The Queen’s coat, hat and shoes. They were not discovered by the Queen.

I recommend watching, if you can, even if you don’t speak Norwegian, because the interaction between the cousins is really nice.

Subtitles with Google Translate: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Ftv.nrk.no%2Fprogram%2FNNFA41001516%2Fvaar-bestefar-kong-olav&edit-text=&act=url

* Ragnhild Lorentzen Long was not present.

Review: Kongens hus : Alle kongeparets hjem

Kongens hus : Alle kongeparets hjem by Queen Sonja

I picked this up at the library, after I saw it exhibited at the Open Palace tour in Oslo. It is a beautiful book filled with photographs and interesting text about all the residences that the King and Queen inhabit.

The book is worth looking through for the photographs alone. How the interior is decorated, and not just the public rooms. The pictures of the private apartments are filled with the Queen’s art and the King’s sailing trophies. The pictures of Queen Sonja’s art on the walls remind me of the pictures of the art in the renovated palace in Copenhagen.

Also, pictures of the holiday residences are shared. Some of the places are rarely seen inside by the public.

In addition, if you read Norwegian – the snippets the Queen shares for each residence makes the book worth reading. There is not much new information, but it is well written and makes the book.

Her perfectionism is shown through the story of her sleeping in every bedroom in the palace prior to the renovation so she would know exactly what needed to be done. The only negative is the lack of comments on the uproar on the cost of the renovation.

Her stories are supplemented by facts from the architect Thomas Thiis-Evensen and art historian Ole Rikard Høisæther.

Well worth the read.


Haakon & Maud

Grrr… Just finished reading this Norwegian series of books – allegedly about King Haakon and Queen Maud. It was meant to be a two volume series.

In reality, the author was given (almost) free access to a whole lot of royal archives of letters, diaries and other documents (in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Russia and the UK – among others), and went a bit nuts.

In reality, it is now six volumes – and the majority of volume six deals with how the Norwegian government in Norway during WWII. Wait… No… that’s inaccurate. It goes from May to September 1940.

He is writing another volume (at least) for the rest of the war and the post-war years.

In general, the writing is good, and the royal letters and thoughts are interesting. But there is just too much information that maybe could have been cut, because it is generally known, redundant or not relevant for the biography on Haakon and Maud.

For example the half-page biography on Hitler.

Or the extreme repetition of the telling of the murders of the tsar and his family, in all their blood and gore. Which, in itself, is relevant to the story, but not in the extreme overload that is shared.

And the same goes for the volume detailing about half of 1940.

Also, the theory that Olav was not the son of Haakon – but the son of the royal doctor is in, but the theory that the sister of Carl/Haakon/Charles had a child out of wedlock is dismissed.

The six books that have been published so far could very well have been edited down to four. Maybe five with a generous editor. But as it is, it has transcended from being a biography about Haakon and Maud into a never-ending story about everything and the kitchen sink (almost.)

If you do read Norwegian, I recommend it – it is by Tor Bomann-Larsen, (who also wrote the cutest children’s book about when the royal family learnt to ski.) and it has won a lot of awards. It is well written. It just, in my opinion, should have been edited down a bit.

Mette-Marit takes the literary train out on the tracks again

May 26 and 27, the Norwegian court announced, Crown Princess Mette-Marit will make another literary train journey. It is a follow-up to the literary train ride she took last year.

Like last year, they have transformed the royal rail carriage into a library. This time the train will go from Trondheim to Hamar, and make stops on Oppdal, Ringebu and Lillehammer. At Lillehammer, the Crown Princess will open the Norwegian Literature Festival.

This time she is collaborating with the local libraries at the stops, and authors have also been invited along. Two authors will be traveling along the train – Tore Renberg and Harald Rosenløw Eeg.

Other authors and literature critics will participate along the way on the stops.

At the Norwegian Literature Festival at Lillehammer the Crown Princess will, in addition to do the official opening, have a literary salon with two Norwegian authors.

The journey ends at Hamar.


Interview with Crown Prince Haakon in Magasinet

Yesterday there was an interview with Crown Prince Haakon in Magasinet. The interview was done while he was in East Timor with UNDP.

Some translated outtakes, as it is a lengthy interview. There is a lot of discussion on the Millennium Development Goals, the UNDP and the trip in general.

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The Hardanger bunad and the Norwegian royals

bunad1893The Hardanger bunad is probably the national costume that has the longest association with the Norwegian royal family. Princess Maud of Wales received a costume as a present from the city of Bergen in 1893, when she visited the area. The photograph was later turned into postcards.

(An article in Bergens Tidende from 1906 says that the Queen also received a Hardanger bunad from the women of Odda, and wore it, when she and the King visited Odda after the coronation in 1906.)

Queen Maud’s Hardangerbunad joined the exhibition of her clothing (Style and Splendour: Queen Maud of Norway’s Wardrobe 1896 – 1938) at the V&A Museum in 2005-2006.

Around the time of the Norwegian independence the Hardanger bunad was considered more of a national than a regional costume, and wearing it was a political statement. It was called Nasjonalen (The national.)

Princess Astrid received a Hardanger bunad in October 1959 from Ungdomslaget i Hardanger. She has worn it on multiple occasions, among others, when her son Alexander Ferner got married, and on a centenary celebratory service in Holmenkollen chapel.  (on page 6 in Risbladet.)

Crown Princess Mette-Marit received a Hardanger bunad as a wedding present from the Hardanger council in 2001. She wore the bunad on the county visit to Hordaland in 2002.

Her maternal grandmother came from the farm Fosso by Kvam in Hardanger. Mette-Marit last visited the farm when she was 6 years old, and remembered playing with the goats there.

Mette-Marit has frequently worn the Hardanger bunad since she first got it, lastly for the 2014 Christmas photo shoot at the palace (and the photoshoot the year before that.) On the service marking the centenary of the coronation of Haakon and Maud in 1906, Mette-Marit also wore the Hardanger bunad.

She also wore it when greeting the Children’s parade on May 17 2003 at Skaugum, in 2006in 2010, and on May 17th, 2014 on the palace balcony for marking the bicentenary of the constitution.

Interview with Princess Astrid in Magasinet

On January 24, Princess Astrid’s husband, Johan Martin Ferner, passed away. He was buried earlier this week. He was, in short, the model of the perfect royal in-law – never in the papers for his own gain, never speaking about his royal relatives, had a thriving business and life of his own, and always two step behind Astrid when she was out representing. Certain royal in-laws could learn a lot from him.

10 days before his death, Princess Astrid gave an interview to the weekend edition of Dagbladet, Magasinet. According to the wishes of the Princess and the court, the interview was published yesterday, as it was originally written. I have translated out-takes of the interview, below.

The interview took place in the Minister Salon at the Royal Palace in Oslo.

Continue reading “Interview with Princess Astrid in Magasinet”

Royal Residences: Slottet – the Open Palace tour #22

Just before I left Oslo, I took the guided tour of the Palace. It was the first day it was open this season – which kind of showed in some aspects. (A television set in the Council of State room hadn’t been turned on, and our guide didn’t quite know how to do it, for example.)

I booked the ticket early, as soon as I noticed that it went on sale in March. (It seems to typically go on sale in the end of March/Beginning of April) The tour was in the end of June.

You enter the palace from the back, where they had put up a tent for checking tickets.



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Ingrid Alexandra and Sverre Magnus examining the bats at Skaugum

Skaugum in Asker is in bat county. In 2011, nest boxes were put up in trees for the bats – to give them a place to roost. Some species of bats are in danger of extinction.

Ingrid Alexandra and Sverre Magnus participated when the boxes were put up. Today, it was time to check progress of the boxes for this year, and they participated again.

15 bats were found.

The 18th international bat night is the night between the 30 and 31 of August.

Photo: Tonje Norum Svendsen, Det kongelige hoff
Photo: Tonje Norum Svendsen, Det kongelige hoff
Photo: Tonje Norum Svendsen, Det kongelige hoff
Photo: Tonje Norum Svendsen, Det kongelige hoff
Photo: Tonje Norum Svendsen, Det kongelige hoff
Photo: Tonje Norum Svendsen, Det kongelige hoff
Photo: Tonje Norum Svendsen, Det kongelige hoff
Photo: Tonje Norum Svendsen, Det kongelige hoff

Royal Residences: Oscarshall #21

A couple of weeks before I left Oslo, I took a trip to Bygdøy to visit Oscarhall. It is a pleasure palace built for King Oscar I of Sweden-Norway and his wife, Josephine of Leuchtenberg.

It is still in use today by the royal family for special occasions, and Queen Sonja has set up an art gallery in one of the side buildings.

The palace is beautiful on the outside, and the renovations inside have been done very nicely. The big surprise was the woodwork in the entrance hall that isn’t wood, but concrete painted to look like wood.

Continue reading “Royal Residences: Oscarshall #21”

Ingrid Alexandra and Sverre Magnus to start private schools

The court released information today that Princess Ingrid Alexandra and Prince Sverre Magnus will change schools – starting after the summer.

Ingrid Alexandra will start in 5th grade at Oslo International School, whereas her brother will start in 3rd grade at the Montessori school in Oslo.

The court states that the reasoning is that Ingrid Alexandra is going to the International school to be more fluent in conversational English, as would befit her future role. They don’t mention anything about why Sverre Magnus is going to a different school.

They say that they have been very happy with the schooling they have had at their current school at Jansløkka. But that they have tried to make the choices that are right for their children.

The news is causing debate in Norwegian media. Part of the reasoning is that if the future head of state is withdrawing his children from the public school system, it must mean that he thinks that the system is not good enough.

Since the children of Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha returned from the United States after WWII, the children of the Crown Princely family have gone to public schools.

Republicans are also out in full force – with comments such as the royal family are removing themselves from the people, and becoming part of the shameless elite.

Märtha Louise and Ari Behn’s children were attending their local Steiner school before they moved to London, and presumably they will also return to that when they move back to Norway.

The decided lack of information about why they have chosen to move now, and why Sverre Magnus is going to a different school than his sister makes me consider that the decision might be more about how Sverre Magnus is fitting in at his school than the extreme need for Ingrid Alexandra to learn conversational English at a young age.

After all, Crown Prince Haakon and his sister had an English nanny growing up so they could learn the language better at a young age.


May 18 – Unveiling of the Statue of Christian Frederik

Pictures from May 18, when Queen Margrethe, King Harald and Queen Sonja came down to the parliament to unveil the statue of Christian Frederik.

Since I had not got good pictures of the royals the day before, I got a decent enough spot at this unveiling. At least enough to photograph the arrival.


Pictures from May 17 in Oslo

I’m so incredibly late with this – but here are some pictures from my May 17 celebration in Oslo:

I didn’t discover until way too late that you had to have tickets (free tickets, but still you had to apply to get them) to stand in the area just in front of the palace.

That’s why the royals are just tiny stick figures on my pictures. I could see them quite well, and spotted Princess Astrid sitting in the window next to the balcony. Queen Margrethe also made an appearance in that window at some point.

But I figure that the rest of the day was pretty good despite that. We were fortunate enough to have amazing weather. I got sunburned. I ate ice cream. A pretty good day.

The day before I was kind of bummed that I hadn’t brought my national costume with me to Oslo when I returned from Easter Break, but the heat of the day and given the fact that my national costume is wool and linen and heavy and black…  I was super happy to be rocking a light summer dress instead.

It was a good national day, and it was a nice celebration of the bicentenary of the Norwegian constitution.

Celebration of the Norwegian constitution

The Norwegian Royal Family joined together with the parliament today to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian constitution.

kongefamilien fra Stortinget
Screenshot from NRK

It was originally announced that the King, the Queen, the Crown Princely Couple and Princess Astrid Mrs. Ferner would participate. But Hereditary Princess Ingrid Alexandra was also brought along.

There will be a big celebration going on this weekend, with the celebrations of May 17 both in Oslo, and in a special edition from Eidsvoll in the evening where the royal family will be joined by the Danish and Swedish royal couples.


Mette-Marit cured of her fear of flying (and interview about reading habits.)

The weekend supplement to the Norwegian newspaper VG received an interview with Mette-Marit during the recent literary train ride. Snippets from the interview translated below.

I find it interesting that her reading habits (not what she reads, but how she reads) mimics my own. Because I read a lot. And I read everywhere. Even before I got the Kindle app on my iPhone, I would frequently walk around with books in my bag to read when I had a minute or two.

Continue reading “Mette-Marit cured of her fear of flying (and interview about reading habits.)”

Danish royals under surveillance by magazine

In 2007, it was revealed through a book written by a former employee, how the Norwegian magazine Se & Hør was using bribes to keep tabs on the Norwegian royal family. The bribes went to employees in the airplane companies, banks, the Norwegian defense, the police…

It got to the point where Ari Behn and Princess Märtha Louise went on their honeymoon with cash in a suitcase instead of using credit cards, because they suspected that their credit cards were under surveillance.

Now a former employee at the Danish magazine Se & Hør has also written a book. Allegedly, according to the book, the Norwegian version of the magazine was not the only one keeping illegal tabs on its core material. The book alleges, according to BT, that the magazine has, for at least four years, paid a Danish IT specialist to keep tabs on the charge cards of the royal and the famous. The IT specialist worked for the Danish provider of credit/debit card systems.

The book claims to be fictional, but according to BT, behind the fiction is truth. They have confirmed with celebrities who have been named in the book that the information about them, whether Se & Hør published it or not, is correct. They also claim that the information is not something that would have been publicly available.

It is also claimed in the book that the magazine got their information about the honeymoon of Prince Joachim and Princess Marie by receiving information when Joachim’s credit cards were used. That’s how, a short while later, the magazine was able to get exclusive photos and information to share with its readers.

“We were always on their backs. It was bizarre. One second after Jokke had dragged his card through at, for example, a restaurant, the transaction would come through on my cell phone. So even though we lost them in the throng of Vancouver a couple of times, the credit card would always find them again.” – from the book, according to BT.. 

It is also mentioned by BT that Prince Henrik was one of the people under this type of surveillance.

The two former and the current editor of Se & Hør either denies the allegations or refuse to comment.