The Norwegian Royal Court today announced that Princess Märtha Louise, eldest child and only daughter of King Harald V and Queen Sonja and currently no. 4 in the line of succession to the Norwegian throne, has decided to relinquish her official duties:
Princess Märtha Louise to relinquish her official duties
Princess Märtha Louise wishes to differentiate more clearly between her own activities and her relationship to the Royal House of Norway. The Princess has therefore decided, in consultation with His Majesty The King and other close family members, that she will not carry out official duties for the Royal House at the present time.
The Princess is patron of various organisations, and today she informed them that she is relinquishing her patronage role, which has provided the framework for her official duties. The Princess is taking this step to create a clearer dividing line between her business activities and her role as a member of the Royal Family. The organisations previously under her patronage will be offered the patronage of other members of the Royal Family.
The Princess and her fiancé, Durek Verrett, are seeking to distinguish more clearly between their activities and the Royal House of Norway. This means, among other things, that they will not employ the title of Princess or refer to members of the Royal House in their social media channels, in media productions or in connection with other commercial activities (with the exception of @PrincessMarthaLouise on Instagram).
His Majesty The King has decided that the Princess is to keep her title. The King and Queen wish to thank Princess Märtha Louise for the important work she has carried out in her official capacity for several decades. She has performed her duties with warmth, care and deep commitment.
When Durek Verrett and Princess Märtha Louise are married, Mr Verrett will become a part of the Royal Family – as did Erling Lorentzen, Johan Martin Ferner and Ari Behn. But in accordance with tradition he will not have a title or represent the Royal House of Norway. Princess Märtha Louise and Durek Verrett will attend family-related gatherings, such as birthday celebrations, as well as certain major sporting events that the Royal Family traditionally attends together.
The court then followed up with more information:
The roles of Princess Märtha Louise and Durek Verrett moving forward
The Princess is withdrawing from her official duties for the Royal House of Norway.
The Princess is relinquishing the role as royal patron that has set the framework of her official duties for the Royal House, and will not be representing the Royal House at the present time. The organisations previously under her patronage will be offered the patronage of other members of the Royal Family.
The King and Queen wish to thank Princess Märtha Louise for the important work she has carried out in her official capacity for several decades. She has performed her duties with warmth, care and deep commitment.
In accordance with The King’s wishes, the Princess will keep her title. The Princess will continue to serve as chair of the board of Princess Märtha Louise’s Fund.
When Durek Verrett and Princess Märtha Louise are married, Mr Verrett will become a part of the Royal Family – as did Erling Lorentzen, Johan Martin Ferner and Ari Behn. But in accordance with tradition he will not have a title or represent the Royal House of Norway.
Princess Märtha Louise and Durek Verrett will attend important family-related gatherings, such as birthday celebrations, as well as certain major sporting events that the Royal Family traditionally attends together.
Princess Märtha Louise and Durek Verrett are seeking to distinguish more clearly between their activities and their association with the Royal House.
In 2019, the Princess decided in consultation with her family not to use the title of Princess in connection with her business activity. This principle will now apply to her fiancé Durek Verrett as well.
Accordingly, they will not indicate an association with the Royal House of Norway in their social media channels (with the exception of @PrincessMarthaLouise on Instagram), in media productions or in connection with other commercial activities. In practice this means that the Princess and Durek Verrett will avoid mention of this association in activities such as social media tagging, the use of the Princess title or the use of pictures of, or references to, other members of the Royal House in channels where commercial activity also takes place. This includes interviews primarily intended to draw attention to commercial activity.
This is intended to draw a dividing line that more clearly separates commercial activity from the Royal House of Norway. The objective is both to prevent misunderstandings regarding the Royal House and to allow the Princess and Durek Verrett greater freedom in their business activities and other parts of their lives.
As an extension of this clarification of roles, the Royal House of Norway wishes to add the following:
We are very pleased by the engagement of the Princess to Derek Verrett, and we want Mr Verrett to feel welcome in our family.
The situation we as a family have found ourselves in recently, however, has raised problems that are complex and that involve many different views we are trying to accommodate.
For us it is crucial to maintain our relationship of trust with the Norwegian people while at the same time safeguarding the well-being of our family to the best of our ability. The constraints on what we may say or do while representing the Royal House have been questioned and challenged. That is why we have seen a need to further clarify roles and the use of the Princess title.
We are also committed to the ideal of all people living together in harmony despite their differences. We deplore the racist attitudes that Durek Verrett has had to contend with, especially on social media. We consider it a strength that the Royal House reflects Norway’s ethnic diversity.
For those who have never experienced such discrimination, it can be hard to imagine how racism – whether direct or indirect, conscious or unconscious – is perceived by those it strikes. Unfortunately there are many people in Norway today who are subjected to discrimination and racism. We must work together as a society to put an end to intolerance.
Across the generations in Norway we have sought to create a society rooted in knowledge, scientific research and freedom of expression – as well as continuous expansion of the Norwegian “we” as society has grown more diverse. We wish to continue the efforts to promote a society based on tolerance, where people do not make hasty judgements about others but sincerely seek to find common ground.
We wish to achieve a generous, welcoming society where there is room, and respect, for one and all – not just those who are our friends and family but the wider society we are building together.
Regarding health and science
The members of the Royal House of Norway have great confidence in the Norwegian health service and the Norwegian health authorities. A structure based on established medical knowledge and scientific research, carried out by skilled health personnel across the entire health service, has resulted in one of the world’s best health-care systems for the benefit of everyone in Norway.
Princess Märtha Louise and Durek Verrett have stressed on several occasions that they have confidence in, and avail themselves of, the conventional medical establishment and the Norwegian health service.
In response to questions about her views on alternative medicine and science-based conventional medicine, Princess Märtha Louise has stated the following:
Throughout my life I have been deeply interested in health and research. I believe keenly in expanding our knowledge of the foundations of health. My own training as a physiotherapist has made me aware of the importance of research-based knowledge in advances in the health-related professions, and in particular to the vulnerable individuals who rely on them.
I am grateful that we in Norway have a high-quality health-care system. I am impressed by all the knowledgeable people who work in hospitals, doctors’ offices and educational institutions across Norway. I personally have received help from them many times – as have most people in the country.
I also believe, however, that there are components of a good life and sound physical and mental health that may not be so easy to sum up in a research report. Many preventative measures are of course well documented – such as a healthy diet, proper exercise and a sensible balance between work and leisure. In other areas of life — such as spirituality, intimacy with other people and animals, yoga and meditation — the medicinal effects are perhaps less well understood or documented. In recent years, for example, there have been research findings that conclude that meditation contributes to stress reduction.
I think for many people alternative methods can be an important supplement to help from the conventional medical establishment. A warm hand, an acupuncture needle, a crystal, natural remedies, yoga, meditation or therapeutic conversation can, I believe, help to make life better for many individuals. Not instead of, but in addition to, the treatment provided by the health-care system. As a natural consequence, some people have chosen to follow this approach to treatment as a business practice.
There have been successful collaborations between conventional and alternative forms of medicine – for example, the use of acupuncture in maternity wards in Norwegian hospitals and horses as a supplemental element in therapy at Gaustad Hospital. It is in this area of cooperation and bridge-building that I wish to continue my efforts. I go to the physician while at the same time I use acupuncture and work with energies. I go to yoga and I meditate – as I find that many people do.
All of these have been constants in my life. I try to be true to myself, and to live a life with due regard to both objectivity and personal experience.
I am aware that many people follow what I do and say very closely. My title entails a certain responsibility. It is therefore important to me, including in my business activity, to distinguish between myself as a private person on the one hand and as a member of the Royal Family on the other. Sometimes I stumble, and am grateful to receive supportive advice along the way.
I consider it important to be honest with myself and with the people around me on these matters. I know where I stand, and hope my personal views will be treated as mine alone, without others having to answer for them. By the same token, I hope my views will not be used or interpreted as support for the opinions of others.
Princess Märtha Louise's role has been debated for quite some time, especially since the announcement of her engagement to the self-proclaimed Shaman Derek Verrett and after Verrett too often has referred to his fiancee's royal status in connection with his quackery activities. The princess herself has for many years been criticised for her business and involvement with alternative treatments and for having started a school aimed at helping people «to get in touch with their angels». It has been claimed that the princess has taken advantage of her role as a princess in her business. In 2019 she agreed to stop using her title in connection with her commercial ventures and those with Verrett. She has not always managed to stay on line and her activities seem in recent times to have become even «more alternative».
Will this be enough? She didn't represent the royal house that often anyway, so the most important change, maybe somewhat superficial, is to create a larger distance between her role as princess and her business, as described in the press announcement. She as well as her fiancé are already stepping on a thin line here and don't have that much latitude. Are they only delaying the problems, or will they manage to stay in line? The main challenge is of course Mr. Verrett with his obviously limited understanding of how the monarchy works. I fear that their activities will continue to draw negative attention and continue to undermine the institution.
An alternative solution in order to to create a larger distance to the royal house would be that the king welcomed Mr. Verrett into his family, but, given his constitutional role, decided not to give consent to the marriage, which would mean that the princess would lose her succession rights, and that he would ask her to give up her title. It is of course all about protecting the institution from more attacks. The «alternative activities» have created too much negative attention and has too often overshadowed the activities of the other members of the royal family. The royal house has become less popular because of this, given recent polls. As I wrote in connection with the engagement announcement, most people will probably wish the couple all the best for their future together. The Norwegian Constitution Article 36 says that «A Prince or Princess entitled to succeed to the Crown of Norway may not marry without the consent of the King.» This might seem a bit antiquated in this time and age, but obviously the restriction is made to stop marriages that could put the integrity of the royal house in danger. The princess should be allowed to marry whoever she wants, but not necessarily without consequences. As I have written before, there is no doubt that the king (and queen), given their own experiences prior to their engagement and marriage in 1968, support their children's choices and want to make sure that they don't have to go through a similar situation like they did. But some people have wondered if the king despite this should have put down his foot and maybe much earlier. I like the idea of a liberal, inclusive and generous king, but fear that today's decision will not work out as well as intended. We just have to wait and see.
There are other aspects of today's announcement which are worth discussing. I have no doubt that Mr. Verrett has received racist abuse, especially in social media, and this is of course unacceptable. Racism should not be tolerated in any form. And maybe some people unconsciously would have been more forthcoming and accepting towards Verrett if it had not been for the color of his skin. But I am still convinced that most of the criticism has little to do with color, but with Mr. Verrett's shaman and quackery activities.
Another interesting aspect is Princess Märtha Louise's comment that «she will not carry out official duties for the Royal House at the present time». Does this mean that we could expect «a royal comeback» some time in the future? It is difficult to see that possibilty now, but the Norwegian royal family is small, and there could be scenarios where the princess has to step in and help out (and she has been great at it, let there be no doubt, being a princess representing the royal house. It is her private business affairs and «alternative activities» that have caused all the trouble. Earning her salary as a physioterapist or whatever would not have been a problem). But a comeback as «a working royal» would most likely also mean that she would have to give up her commercial activities, at least for a while. Such a scenario would probably not be possible without keeping her title, and that this is – besides being born a princess and identity issues that come along – a good reason for today's chosen arrangement.