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Before they were royal: The life of Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway

Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway has not always been Crown Princess of Norway. For many years of her life, she was just an ordinary Norwegian girl. The woman who was to become Norway’s Crown Princess, and in the future, Norway’s Queen was born as Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby.

The regular girl came to this world on 19 August 1973 in Kristiansand, as the daughter of journalist Sven Olaf Bjarte Høiby (1936-2007) and Marit Tjessem (born 1937), who worked in a bank.

A seven-year-old Mette-Marit on her very first day of school. Photo: The Royal Court Photo Archive / Det Kongelige Hoff.

Mette-Marit had a completely normal but still very active Norwegian middle-class upbringing. In her childhood, she spent many weekends and holidays in the Setesdalen-valley and on the coast where she learned to sail. In her teens, she was active in the local youth club where she eventually became the activity leader. As a teenager, she also played volleyball and was qualified as both a judge and coach.

She also danced ballet, sang in the girl choir called “Benedict”, was a scout and went to Sunday school in her local church.

Mette-Marit’s graduation when she was 15-years-old. Photo: The Royal Court Photo Archive / Det Kongelige Hoff.

When she was eleven, her parents divorced, and Mette-Marit moved in with her mother. In 2014, the Crown Princess was praised by after she talked openly about problems she faced during her childhood. The Crown Princess revealed that her father was an alcoholic when the Crown Princess was a little girl.

“When I was little, I always felt that I had something I had to hide. The fact that my father was an alcoholic, no one of my friends knew that. I think that the pleasure I have had in getting into the world of books has just been reinforced. Important for understanding the most difficult things in our lives, which makes us most vulnerable, which causes us to feel shame”, said Crown Princess Mette-Marit.

The Royal Family’s three most powerful women, Princess Ingrid Alexandra flanked by her mother, the Crown Princess and her grandmother, the Queen. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen.

After starting at the high school in Odderne in 1989, she spent six months at the Wangaratta High School in Australia as an exchange student. Later, she was a student at Kristiansand Cathedral School, where she completed her secondary school in 1994. She also spent one year as a student at Bjørknes Private School in Oslo, and she graduated in philosophy, chemistry and ICT at the University of Agder.

On 13 January 1997, she gave birth to her first child, Marius, with Morten Borg.

Photo: Oskar Aanmoen

In 1999, she met the Crown Prince at a concert at the Quart Festival in Kristiansand. A year later, the couple moved in an Oslo apartment together, and on 1 December 2000, the couple became engaged. During this period, she had a short summer job at a clothing store in Oslo.

The couple married 25 August 2001 in Oslo Cathedral, and Mette-Marit became Crown Princess of Norway. They went on to have two children Princess Ingrid Alexandra (b. 2004) and Prince Sverre Magnus (b. 2005).

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.