Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Queen presents new book on the royal residences

Earlier today I attended a small reception at Oscarshall Palace, where the Queen presented a new book on the royal residences, Kongens hus – Alle kongeparets hjem. The unusual presence of the Queen at a book launch was due to the fact that she is among the authors of this book, which presents the twelve homes available to the King and Queen. While the art historians Thomas Thiis-Evensen and Ole Rikard Høisæther have written most of the texts on the various residences, the Queen has contributed introductory chapters about each of the royal homes. The photographer Espen Grønli has taken the many excellent photos to be found in this volume.
All the royal homes have soul, the Queen said, but when pressed to point out one in particular she landed on Bygdøy Royal Manor, the eighteenth century manor house which, following a thorough restoration a few years ago, now serves at the King and Queen’s summer house and was also much loved by King Haakon, Queen Maud and King Olav.
At the book launch the Queen stressed the importance of preserving the cultural heritage the royal residences represent. The preservation and restoration of several of the royal residences have been a priority for the King and Queen and will surely rank high among the things they will be remembered for.
As such this book is also a historical document. It will be a record for posterity of what the royal residences were like in the reign of King Harald V and Queen Sonja, but supposedly it can also be seen as some sort of justification in that it shows what the restoration money have been spent on.
The book presents not only the state-owned residences, but also the royal couple’s privately owned properties – and official rooms as well as the private royal quarters. The Queen admitted that she had been somewhat in doubt about where to draw the line between the official and private sphere, but to me the result seems intimate without being intrusive.
This is the second book published by Orfeus Publishing about the royal heritage this year. The first was Arv og tradisjon, which presents the Royal Collection and accompanies the exhibitions which are the government’s 75th birthday presents to the King and Queen. A third book in what may perhaps be considered a series will be out in little over a month, this time about the Queen’s art.

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