Norway: Princess gives up royal duties amid fiancé questions

Princess Martha Louise of Norway leaves the protestant church after a funeral service for the late husband of Princess Benedikte, Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, in Bad Berleburg, Germany, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Probst, File)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Princess Märtha Louise, the daughter of Norway’s King Harald, said Tuesday she no longer will officially represent the Norwegian royal house following “many questions relating to me and my fiancé’s role.”

The 51-year-old princess, who is fourth in line to the Norwegian throne, got engaged in June to Durek Verrett, an American who describes himself as a shaman and a healer on his website.

At least one foundation for which Märtha Louise served as a patron subsequently ended its connection with the princess.

“I have decided that at the present time I will no longer carry out official duties for the royal household,” she said in a statement issued by the palace, adding that the decision was made in coordination with her parents “to create peace around the royal household.”

The princess will retain her title, but the palace said she informed the organizations where she still served as patron that she was relinquishing the role.

Her younger brother, Crown Prince Haakon, 49, is the heir to the throne.

“I am sorry that the princess will no longer represent the royal house,” Harald said during a press conference about the issue. The 82-year-old king said that “we agree to disagree.”

“We have looked at this process from all sides,” his wife, Queen Sonja added. “This has been a unanimous decision.”

Harald said Verret “probably thought he could do anything without it affecting us.”

“He must also take into account what we stand for,” Sonja said.

The palace statement said the couple would “clarify the distinction between their own activities and the royal household” and will not use the title of princess or refer to royals in social media or commercial activity.

Bo Gleditsch, secretary-general of the Norwegian Rheumatism Association, told Norwegian news agency NTB it was “an orderly and wise decision from our patron.”

“She has resolved this on her own initiative, and that’s good,” Gleditsch told NTB.

Norwegian media have accused Märtha Louise and Verrett of allegedly using her royal title for commercial gain along with promoting alternative health care methods.

On Instagram, Märtha Louise said “I believe that alternative methods can be an important supplement to the established medicine.”

Verrett, 47, will not have a title or represent Norway’s royal house when he and Märtha Louise marry, according to the statement. The pair, who have been together since May 2019, according to Norwegian media, will attend family-related occasions and traditional royal events.

Märtha Louise has three daughters from her first marriage, which ended in 2016. According to Norwegian media, she plans to relocate to California with them. The palace did not say whether the change for Märtha Louise would have any effect on her daughters.

Alongside her royal duties, the princess has written books in which she claimed to have contact with angels.

A poll published by Norway’s Dagbladet newspaper last month had 68% of respondents saying they wanted to keep the monarchy. When Norwegian broadcaster NRK asked the same question in 2017, support for the royal house stood at 81%.