16 April 2014

The Norwegian Royal Court. Annual Report 2013

The Norwegian Royal Court published its annual report for 2013 on Thursday 10 April 2014. The report gives an overview of the activities of the Royal Family and Royal Court and also includes the accounts for the Civil List and a survey of the orders and medals awarded by the King during 2013. The press release last week stated among others:
"During 2013, His Majesty The King attended 314 official events in Norway and abroad, while Her Majesty The Queen attended 98 official events, His Royal Highness The Crown Prince attended 200 official events and Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess attended 72 official events. The Royal Family visited 47 municipalities in 16 counties and Svalbard in Norway, and paid several visits abroad. The King and Queen carried out their annual county visit in Sør-Trøndelag county in June, while the Crown Prince and Crown Princess visited Vest-Agder county in September.

The King and Queen conducted a State Visit to Turkey in November, while the Crown Prince and Crown Princess travelled to the USA for an official visit in May.

In 2013 the Royal Court completed its modernisation and rationalisation process, and all Court employees have now been consolidated into a joint overall organisational unit.

A report on the use of the funds allocated to the Royal Court (the Civil List) and the staff of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess by the Storting is submitted annually.

The allowances provided to the King and Queen and to the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, respectively, are meant to cover the management, operation, maintenance and development of the private properties, as well as official attire and private expenses.

The accounts for the Civil List showed a deficit of NOK 6 701 468. This deficit will be covered by previous appropriations.

The accounts for the staff of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess showed a deficit of NOK 37 251. This deficit will be covered by appropriations from previous years.

The accounts for “Åpent Slott” (cultural outreach activities) showed a surplus of NOK 373 266. This surplus will be transferred to equity capital."
Not surprisingly the press and the social media focused on the deficit of NOK 6 701 468, but many left out the fact that the deficit was to be covered by previous appropriations. It is not as if the royal family and court are on their uppers. The activities and the costs seem to be well planned. The Norwegian tabloid VG wrote in its coverage of the annual report that the celebrations of the crown prince couple's 40th birthdays last year cost as much 2,4 million NOK. In addition security cost as much as 2,7 millions, taken from the police force budget. Crown Prince Haakon's 40th anniversary was marked by a music festival in the garden at the Skaugum estate, where numerous royal guests were entertained. Obviously a party on such a large scale has to cost something. The court's information director, Marianne Hagen, confirmed the numbers, but "had  no further comments". Maybe not the best reply, but then again what should she have said? Simply that this is what a party like this costs? Many people would then say how the money could have helped the sick and elderly. It is hardly possible to win an argument about the cost of royal celebrations. But it should be stressed that the expenses were covered by the civil list, not by any extraordinary grants. And concerning security costs, even a president would need security if he was to hold a private party.

The annual report reveals that 22 persons received the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav in 2013, compared to 27 in 2012 and 30 in 2011. Among those 22 were Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, President Abdullah Gül of Turkey (both Grand Cross) and the composer and musician Henning Sommerro (Commander).

61 persons received the Order of Merit (all classes combined), among them Barry White, the US Ambassador who left Norway in September 2013, and has not yet been replaced. President Barack Obama has nominated George Tsunis to the post as Ambassador to Norway, but he has not yet been confirmed by the Senate. As you might recall, he did not do too well at his confirmation hearing, and Senator John McCain has said he would fight the appointment when it is finally voted over in the Senate.

But back to the annual report again! The Medal of St. Olav was awarded to only one person, in 2013, Johan Beck, who has served as a verger at the Norwegan Seamen's Church in Stockholm since 1974! In addition there were 162 recipients of the King's Medal of Merit, among them Tove Fleischer from my home town Sandefjord. Fleischer has for many years been in charge of the local society for the protection of animals and has done a fabulous job, so it was well deserved. The King's Commemorative Medal was awarded to 9 persons in 2013. The medal is conferred for "particularly meritorious service to His Majesty the King", and among the 9 persons were one of the King's drivers, Bjørn Einar Lindstrøm.

The annual report 2013 can be downloaded here. For earlier annual reports, go here. See also my earlier blog articles The Norwegian Royal Court. Annual report 2012 (published 17 April 2013), 2011 (published 11 April 2012) and 2010 (published 12 April 2011).

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