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By JOSEPHINE GREENLAND
STOCKHOLM. In the wake of the allegations of sexual harassment against Jean-Claude Arnault, newspaper Svenska Dagbladet wrote that the abuse had even affected the royal family. According to three witnesses, the photographer groped the then 27-year-old Crown Princess Victoria on the bottom, at a Christmas event held by the Academy in 2004.
Professor and writer Ebba Witt Brattstrom, present at the event, said in an interview with the Telegraph that Arnault “came lurking from behind and I saw his hand land on her neck and go downward. It was all the way down.”
Brattstrom explained that Victoria’s female Adjutant immediately intervened. “She just threw herself at Arnault. She grabbed him, and ‘whop’ he was gone. The Crown Princess just turned in surprise. I guess she had never been groped before. She just looked like ‘what’?”
Brattstrom said that both she, her former husband and current Academy member Horace Engdahl, King Carl Gustaf XVI and two other Academy members had been standing in a circle with the Crown Princess when Arnault struck.
Following the event, the Swedish Court was instructed to ensure that Victoria was never left alone with Mr. Arnault.
“He kind of molested lightly,” Brattstrom said. “That was his way and everybody knew that, and no one was supposed to take it seriously.” Arnault’s behaviour was supposedly tolerated by the Academy, and according to Brattstrom this shows that “these kinds of men are still proud of this old-fashioned sexism.” She draws a parallel towards her ex-husband, with whom she was married for 33 years. Her poetic novel Love/ War published in Britain 2016, based upon her marriage, stages a dialogue between a he and a she, and can be compared to the Swedish Academy scandal.
Mr. Horace Engdahl denied being present at the event, and believes that Brattstrom is “known to make the greatest possible effort to do harm to the Swedish Academy and to me personally.”
Margareta Thorngren, the Swedish Court’s press chief, said the Crown would “neither confirm nor deny” the Svenska Dagbladet story. However, the court supported the MeToo movement and found the claims aginst Mr Arnault “frightening.”
The Swedish Academy was drawn into crisis in the wake of the MeToo campaign. Newspaper Dagens Nyheter wrote that 18 women had made allegations of sexual harassment by photographer and cultural profile Jean-Claude Arnault. Arnault, together with his wife and Academy Member Katarina Frostensson, led a cultural organization called The Forum where poets, artists and Nobel laureates presented their work. The Forum received grants from the Academy, and a number of the abuse are said to have taken place in apartments owned by the Academy. Arnault is also suspected of leaking the name of the Nobel laureate seven times since 1996, including Harold Pinter in 2005 and Bob Dylan in 2016.
As a result, the Swedish Academy split into two camps. One supported Sarah Danius’ attempt to exclude Frostensson from the Academy. The other defended Frostensson and claimed the allegations were exaggerated. Three members resigned in protest, followed by Danius and Frostensson a week later.
The Academy’s reputation was, as culture editor Bjorn Wiman from Dagens Nyheter put it, at “rock bottom” even before the news about the Crown Princess was published. Horace Engdahl’s denial about being present during the incident, after having publically announced that it was time to put old grudges aside, is likely to reflect badly on both the Academy and his own person. Undoubtedly, restoring confidence in the Academy and the validity of the Nobel Prize will now seem nigh on impossible.
PHOTO CREDIT: Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, 3 June 2012, by US Embassy Sweden
The UoB Linguist Magazine
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