Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and her partner of several years, Shaman Durek Verrett, shared the story behind their romantic proposal that left them both in a flood of tears.
The royal told People she was “shocked” when Verrett, whom she has been dating since 2019, suddenly got down on one knee during an intimate gathering at a horse race estate in San Juan Capistrano, California. The spiritual healer explained, “I was very nervous because I had a lot of emotions going through me—fears and stress and wanting it to be perfect for my beloved.” Verrett added that while he’s thrilled to marry the love of his life, he also understands the weight that comes with being the first modern Black man to marry into a European royal family. “[It] will set a precedent for my people that we are not to be forgotten, and we deserve to be acknowledged for the greatness of who we are and where we come from,” he said. “There’s always been kings and queens in Africa, but unfortunately, they haven’t been recognized in the world in the way that they deserve.”
As for the princess, who is the daughter of Norway’s King Harald V and Queen Sonja and fourth in line for the throne, she said that when it came to the proposal, “I was shocked, and this massive wave of emotions went through me, making me tremble. It was so moving and wonderful that the man I love more than anything in this world was down on one knee and asking for my hand in marriage.” She added, “He asked me under this massive tree with horses surrounding us, and that was very special for me. My connections to nature and horses run deep in my heart. I was in awe of how special and sacred he made that moment for the two of us. I couldn’t stop crying.”
Märtha Louise also pointed out that thanks to her relationship with the shaman, she has had the “eye-opening” experience of seeing how racism still plays out in society first hand. “I’ve learned a lot about Black heritage and will continue to learn,” she said. “I have a patient man who educates me on the issues in Black culture, how it refers to white privilege, and how we as a couple must navigate peoples’ fears and prejudices to demonstrate that love has no boundaries. I’m blessed to be in a relationship that can help me grow and evolve, and it’s humbling to learn the lessons with Durek every day.”
When it came to choosing a ring, Verrett worked with jewelry designer Joy Sangalang Smith to create a custom emerald and diamond ring that would tell the story of their love. He explained, “I did historical research on all the royal engagement rings, and then I went and observed other rings at stores to give me some ideas for the cut and design. Then I would meet with Joy to start sketching ideas out through stories I wanted to tell about the ring. One of them being about protection and her heart and honoring our Viking ancestral roots. I made sure her daughters were included in it, as well as Queen Sonja, to celebrate my love for her and to honor bringing this beautiful woman into my life. It was important to me to keep the heritage tradition strong.” The healer added that as soon as he got the final engagement ring, he took it to show his “dear friend” Gwyneth Paltrow “because I knew she’s very particular about nice things, so I wanted her to be the first to see it. She said it was the most fantastic ring she’s seen and loved how much thought and care I put into it and knew that Princess Märtha would love and cherish it—having a stamp of approval from a friend such as her made me happy.”