Just weeks before Norway’s crown couple celebrates their 40th birthdays, criticism is flying over gifts of exclusive and luxurious designer apparel that Crown Princess Mette-Marit has received for years. The gifts have never been disclosed, and the lack of openness over what can amount to veiled promotion by a member of the royal family has raised strong objections even from supporters of the monarchy.
The crown princess set off the debate after telling “Dagbladet Magasinet”over the weekend that something was “terribly wrong” when “folks only care about what shoes or clothes I’m wearing.” Her habit of using exclusive designer apparel, even when visiting impoverished areas on humanitarian missions, has long raised eyebrows in her egalitarian-minded country. Revelations that she’s also received much of the luxury goods as gifts or at a “royal discount” have now set off a barrage of criticism against the Royal Palace, because its officials have failed to disclose the gifts or reveal their source.
Any gifts of clothing, shoes, purses or jewelry that are accepted and used in public, for example, “in reality amounts to sponsorship,” Dag Jørgen Hveen, a legal expert and lecturer at the Norwegian Business School BI, told newspaper Dagbladet. “The designers do this to have an effect. The answer is that there should be openness around the gifts. If not, they become a form of sneak advertising.”
Mette-Marit was being referred to in social and conventional media this week as both a “living advertisement” for the fashion industry, a “commercial princess” and a “willing fool” for the fashion houses. She’s often promoted Norwegian design over the years, and worn apparel from Norwegian designers, but also has worn gowns and accessories from some of Europe’s most exclusive designers including Valentino and Prada on official and highly public occasions. It remained unclear which dresses, shoes and purses she has received for free or at discounted prices.