It did not occur to the photographers that the chaos, humiliation, verbal violence and pushing them back while covering the opening of the XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna was caused by the arrival of the Norwegian Crown Princess Mette-Marit, a honor guest to the opening ceremony. The photographers were all surprised of the shouting in their faces, of thugs pushing them violently and ordering them to stop photographing after the entry of blond woman wearing a short yellow dress.
Most surprising, the blond lady who entered suddenly and so rudely was not recognized by most of the journalists and conference attendants, over 25000, because of the chaos which erupted with her entry. With her was a tall woman who can be described as a ghost. She had short hair and was dressed in white skirt and jacket. The tall ghost ordered the security facilities of the Norwegian princess to remove journalists from their places. She ordered a group of women wearing black to surround the lady dressed in yellow in order to avoid photos. The woman told the photographers that it was now forbidden to make pictures, and that they had photographed her yesterday and that was enough in her opinion. Here words were not clear to most of the photographers who had just arrived from different countries to cover the AIDS Conference opening session.
A photographer asked me: “What does this woman mean? Who is this lady in short yellow dress?”. I answered the photographer: “The Lady is the Norwegian Crown Princess Mette-Marit, and she was a guest of honor at the Life Ball yesterday”.
The tall Norwegian woman, probably security for the princess, continued to demand the expulsion of the journalists from the venue, and whenever they stepped back a meter she asked them to step back even further, repeating this until all the journalists stood crowded in a corner like cockroaches. The Crown Princess crew allowed ONLY the official TV camera to focus on the princes and her yellow dress.
Another woman from the princess’ crew dealt with the attendants, especially reporters and photographers in an even more rude and disrespectful way. She came shouting “go, go, go!”, gesticulating angrily and waving her hands at the reporters like a farmer shushing goats.
I have seen that in Austria the journalists and photographers are received with respect and appreciation in the houses of the President, the Chancellor, the Parliament, and all other institutions and federal ministries, as well as in less official venues such as conferences. They always offer coffee, cold water and refreshments before the opening an activity or press conference. I have never seen here that journalists were subjected to any kind of humiliation or insult as happened at the opening of the International AIDS Conference 2010 due to the presence of the honor guest of the conference, the Norwegian princess Mette-Marit. It appears to me that the Norwegian Princess and her team have no idea about the customs or about Austria and Vienna, where they stayed as guests.
Austria is the safest and most secure state among the European countries. In Austria, the president, the Chancellor and other politicians and prominent personalities walk in the streets unencumbered, go shopping like the rest of the people. They shake hands with the people and talk to them. It would be better if the Norwegian Crown Princess took a lesson in self-confidence from the Austrian President, Chancellor and other politicians and government functionaries. It is an idea and a peace offer which could make the Princess closer to the heart of her nation and other human beings.
Frankly, I must say for myself and also on behalf of all the other photographers who felt insulted: We were not happy to see Norwegian Crown Princess Mette-Marit at the opening ceremony of XVIII International AIDS Conference 2010, because she interfered in our journalistic work let her security thugs treat us as less than human beings. One of the photographers asked me: “Why did the princess choose to sit in this place and disturb our work? It would have been better if she sat down with her crew and security somewhere else, and it would have been even be better if she had not come today at all. We are here to cover the conference and not to see her yellow dress and self-importance. Nobody knows who she is and nobody cares about her”.