Earlier this year, Princess Märtha Louise of Norway announced her engagement to Gwyneth Paltrow–approved shaman Durek Vivett after three years of dating. This week, the princess announced that she would officially step back from royal engagements once the pair are married. In a video in Norwegian posted to her Instagram account, she explained her decision came after consultation with her father, King Harald V.
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“I have decided that at this time, I will not continue my official duties as protective for various organizations,” she said. “There will be another in the family to take over my role. I wish the organizations good luck for the important work they are doing.” She added that the decision came about in a “loving” and “respectful” way.
Durek and Märtha Louise run a business related to spiritual healing, and in 2019, she announced that she would not use the title of princess in connection with the enterprise.
The royal house confirmed the change in a statement: “Princess Märtha Louise and Durek Verrett are seeking to distinguish more clearly between their activities and their association with the Royal House. 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 2020, Märtha Louise opened up to Vanity Fair about the controversy that ensued when her relationship with Durek became public, specifically because of his background as a spiritual healer. “I don’t know if I can say that much about it, to be honest. It’s very conflicting,” she said. “Here in America, you’re more open to it. In Norway, it’s very, very, extremely controversial. I should be with a CEO or a lord or someone of a high rank of some sort. To be with a shaman, that’s very, extremely, terribly out of the box. It’s crazy.”
Though she didn’t directly address the controversy over her relationship with Durek, who will be the first Black man to marry into a European royal family, a few of her comments hint at the uproar. “I am concerned with health and research and I myself have education in health as a physiotherapist and respect conventional medicine,” she said. “I see alternative medicine as an important supplement to conventional medicine.” (She used the Norwegian word “skolemedisinen,” which translates directly to “school medicine,” but is used to describe scientific or evidence-based medicine, as opposed to traditional medicine.)
Märtha Louise first stopped using the “Her Royal Highness” title for work in 2002, when she decided to pursue a private career. Her first marriage to writer Ari Behn, ended in divorce in 2017, two years before his death.
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