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Norway

That time Crown Prince Haakon was almost kidnapped


Photo: Jørgen Gomnæs / The Royal Court

Being kidnapped is perhaps a royal’s biggest nightmare. Fortunately, this has not happened in recent times. Still, many have made plans to kidnap royals, but they have fortunately failed. A rather unknown story of a kidnapping attempt was aimed at the then 26-year-old Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon in 1999.

The kidnapping attempt was kept secret for a long time, and we still don’t know many details. Not until 2000, a year after the kidnapping attempt was the attempt revealed in a new biography on the Crown Prince’s father, King Harald. Who could be interested in kidnapping Crown Prince Haakon? In 1999, it was actually the Kosovo-Albanian mafia that made plans to kidnap the Norwegian heir.

The Kosovo mafia-leader Princ Dobroshi led a network that smuggled heroin into Europe in 1999. In 1993, he was arrested in Norway and in 1994 he was sentenced to 14 years in prison for heroin trafficking. In a coordinated operation, he escaped from Ullersmo prison in 1997, travelled to Croatia and underwent cosmetic surgery on his face. He moved to the Czech Republic and soon dominated the local Albanian drug mafia. In 1999, he was caught and returned to Norway to serve the rest of his prison sentence.  

It was at this time that his Kosovo-Albanian network started planning the kidnapping of Crown Prince Haakon. They wanted to kidnap him to swap him for their leader’s release from prison.  At that time, Dobroshi was referred to as one of Norway’s most dangerous prisoners.

The police surveillance service received information from the criminal network that they planned something related to the Crown Prince only by chance. An extensive investigation was started which then revealed that a kidnapping was planned, but it was not possible to determine who was behind it or when the kidnapping was to take place.

The security around the King’s son was immediately increased. However, the police’s problem was that his now-wife Mette-Marit had no official role in the royal house at that time. Consequently, neither she nor her son Marius had any bodyguards. The threats were taken so seriously that the police, according to a strictly secret report, later leaked to the press, wanted Crown Prince Haakon to move in with Mette-Marit and her son Marius. Police considered that it was far easier to safeguard them both if the couple lived together. Mette-Marit then quickly moved into the Crown Prince’s apartment.

It has later been revealed that the police worked intensively on several levels to try to get to the bottom of the kidnapping plans. Those behind it must have been in a criminal environment in the Balkans, according to police rapport.  When the police heard about the kidnapping plans, Dobroshi was moved to Norway’s safest prison.

In January of 2000, Dobroshi was released and sent out of the country, although he had not yet served two-thirds of his sentence. After this, the security measures around the Crown Prince decreased although they are still very strict to this day.



About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.