Norway’s Princess Martha Louise ends royal role amid row over ‘shaman’ fiance

Norwegian princess Martha Louise (left) and her then boyfriend Durek Verrett pictured in Oslo on May 16, 2019 (AFP/Getty Images)
Norwegian princess Martha Louise (left) and her then boyfriend Durek Verrett pictured in Oslo on May 16, 2019 (AFP/Getty Images)

Princess Martha Louise, the daughter of Norway’s King Harald, has said she will no longer officially represent the royal house following “many questions relating to me and my fiance’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 Martha 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 organisations which she served as patron that she was relinquishing the role, which provided a framework for her official duties.

Norwegian media have accused Martha Louise and Mr Verrett of allegedly using her royal title for commercial gain along with promoting alternative healthcare methods.

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

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.

The 51-year-old princess, who is fourth in line to the Norwegian throne, got engaged in June to Durek Verrett (AFP via Getty Images)
The 51-year-old princess, who is fourth in line to the Norwegian throne, got engaged in June to Durek Verrett (AFP via Getty Images)

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,” Mr Gleditsch told NTB.

Mr Verrett will not have a title or represent Norway’s royal house when he and Martha Louise marry, according to the statement. The pair, who have been together since May 2019, will attend family-related occasions and events where it is a tradition for royals to participate.

Martha Louise has three daughters from her first marriage, which ended in 2016. According to Norwegian media, she plans to relocate to California with them.

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

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

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%.