Royal Family could lose ancient hunting privileges

The Environment Ministry is negotiating with the Royal House to limit its exclusive right to hunt in the country’s best forests

For 165 years, the Danish Royal Family have enjoyed exclusive hunting rights in 214 of Denmark’s best forests. Environmental agency Naturstyrelsen wants to see some of those forests opened up for rental to other hunters, thus bringing millions into the state treasury.

The royals' five to six hunts per year use less than a third of the area they hold exclusive rights to – an area larger than the island of Bornholm – according to research conducted by state broadcaster DR.

“It is unfair that the Royal Family hold exclusive rights to hunt in state forests,” MP Lisbeth Bech Poulsen told DR Nyheder. “It is high time those rights were taken away.”

Time to open things up
The Royal Family have for years rejected the possibility of renting forests to ordinary hunters, but Naturstyrelsen is now negotiating to get permission for other hunters to use some of the hunting grounds.

“It is too early to say which areas could be rented out,” Kirsten Brosbøl, the environment minister, told DR Nyheder.

The Royal Family have exclusive hunting rights to almost 64,000 hectares of the finest hunting areas in Denmark – nearly a third of all available hunting grounds. The rights were granted in civil law sections of the Danish Constitution dating back to 1849. The 214 lakes and forests they have exclusive rights to were decided in 1947 and have remained the same since.

Most of the lands never used
The figures researched by DR found that the Royal Family use less than one third of the area they have exclusive rights to.

“It goes without saying that the last 70 percent must be rented out,“ Enhedslisten spokesperson Per Clausen told DR Nyheder. “I want an explanation as to why it has not happened long ago.”

READ MORE: More state-owned areas opening up for hunting season

Minutes obtained by DR Nyheder of a meeting three weeks ago between representatives of the Royal Family and Naturstyrelsen show that the royals are for the first time open to the idea of renting out some of the prime hunting lands, provided any agreement struck allows them the flexibility to hunt where and when they chose.