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ROYAL FAMILY

Norwegian author and former spouse of princess dies aged 47

Norwegian author Ari Behn, who was previously married to the country's Princess Märtha Louise, died on Wednesday aged 47, his manager told AFP, saying he had committed suicide.

Norwegian author and former spouse of princess dies aged 47
Ari Behn and Princess Märtha Louise in 2015. Photo: AFP

“It is with great sadness in our hearts that I on behalf of the very closest relatives of Ari Behn must announce that he took his own life today,” Behn's manager Geir Hakonsund said in an email to AFP.

Behn published his first book in 1999, a collection of short stories whose English translation is “Sad as hell”.

He rose to public prominence in 2002 after marrying the Norwegian royal Märtha Louise, and they wrote a book about their wedding with the title “From heart to heart”.

The couple had three daughters together before announcing their divorce in August 2016.

Friends and public figures expressed their condolences on Wednesday, including Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and the royal family.

“Ari was an important part of our family for many years, and we carry warm and good memories of him with us,” the Royal House of Norway said in a statement.

Behn also wrote several novels and plays, and in 2018 published his last book, “Inferno,” in which he detailed his struggle with mental health issues.

READ ALSO: Norwegian World War 2 hero dies aged 99

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HOLOCAUST

Italian king’s heir apologises for monarchy’s Holocaust role

A descendant of Italy's wartime King Victor Emmanuel III has apologised to the country's Jewish community for his ancestor's role in dictator Mussolini's racial laws and the Holocaust.

Italian king's heir apologises for monarchy's Holocaust role
An archival picture of the Italian royal family in 1938 . Photo: AFP

“I condemn the 1938 racial laws, all of whose weight I still feel on my shoulders to this day, and with me the whole royal house,” 48-year-old Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy said of his great-grandfather.

Victor Emmanuel III had put his signature to an “unacceptable document”, he added in a letter posted to Facebook, “officially apologising” in the name of his family.

Almost 8,000 Italian Jews were deported from the country and murdered in Nazi extermination camps, most of them in Auschwitz.

Giving a TV interview alongside the letter, Emanuele Filiberto also vaunted his family's positive role in Italian unification and granting of equal rights to Jews from 1848.

Several Italian royals were themselves deported to Nazi concentration camps, he recalled.

After the war, Victor Emmanuel III abdicated in May 1946 and died the following year in Egypt.

His son Humbert II reigned for only a month before leaving for Switzerland when Italians opted for a republican constitution in a referendum.

Parliament only ended a constitutional ban on the House of Savoy's male heirs returning to Italy in 2002, after Emanuele Filiberto and his father Vittorio Emanuele swore loyalty to the republic.

The two men gave up on compensation claims demanding 260 million euros for their family's exile and the return of the royal family's confiscated property after a public outcry.

Emanuele Filiberto is married to French actress Clotilde Courau.

 
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