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Who is Princess Märtha Louise of Norway?

By Richter Frank-Jurgen - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

Born on 22 September 1971, Princess Märtha Louise is the elder child of King Harald and Queen Sonja. She was born at Rikshospitalet University Hospital in Oslo and was named after her paternal grandmother, Crown Princess Märtha, and her great-great-grandmother, Queen Louise.

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Although her brother, Crown Prince Haakon, is younger, the constitutional amendment allowing the right of eldest born children to succeed to the Norweigan throne regardless of gender was not adopted until 1990. The Princess is currently fourth in line for the throne.

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Princess Märtha Louise grew up at Skaugum Estate, near Oslo, and the Princess and her brother attended a municipal day-care centre and a local primary school, as their parents wanted them to interact with other Norweigan children and have as normal of a childhood as possible. She attended Smestad school in Oslo, and her upper secondary education was completed at Kristelig Gymnasium before moving to England to study literature at the University of Oxford.

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Märtha Louise participated in school activities such as choir, flute, folk dancing, and horseback riding. The Princess, an avid show jumper, competed in the sport for years and was a member of Norway’s national equestrian team. While living in the UK, she trained at Waterstock, a well-known equestrian training centre, and Arena UK. She retired from show jumping in 2000 but remains a devoted equestrian today.

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Once she returned to Norway, the Princess pursued a physiotherapy programme at Oslo University College and was awarded a formal qualification as a physiotherapist in 1997. She qualified as a Rosen practitioner in 2000, focusing on a method of bodywork and movement that aims for “human beings experiencing the whole range of emotions and sensation.”

In 2001, she got engaged to writer Ari Behn, and the royal wedding occurred at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim on 24 May 2002. Sadly, the marriage was not to last, and they were divorced in 2017. Behn died by suicide on Christmas Day in 2019. The couple have three daughters: Maud Angelica Behn, Leah Isadora Behn, and Emma Tallulah Behn.

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The girls live with their mother at Lommedalen, a beautiful rural area in Bærum outside of Oslo. She serves as the patron of eight organisations, and her work today focuses on children with disabilities, including Princess Märtha Louise’s Fund. The fund awards money to projects that support disabled children.

The Norwegian Royal Family in 2018. Photo: Oskar Aanmoen

The Princess also is interested in making traditional Norwegian fairy tales accessible to a wider audience and has authored several books and appeared in a storytelling programme on Norweigan TV.

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In spring 2019, Princess Märtha Louise confirmed on her official Instagram account that she is dating Shaman Durek Verrett, a self-professed “spiritual guide and gifted healer” who counts stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow as clients. The couple has been carrying out a series of workshops, and the Princess started a new account dedicated to her work ventures as an “agent of change.”

About author

Kristin is Chief Reporter for Royal Central and has been following the British royal family for more than 30 years. Kristin has appeared in UK and U.S. media outlets discussing the British royals including BBC Breakfast, BBC World News, Sky News, the Associated Press, TIME, The Washington Post, and many others.