Norwegian princess throws in towel on royal duties for ‘shaman’ fiance

The beliefs of Princess Märtha Louise and her American fiancé Durek Verrett have proven unpopular with Norway's populace.

The beliefs of Princess Märtha Louise and her American fiancé Durek Verrett have proven unpopular with Norway's populace. Photo: Getty

Norway’s Princess Martha Louise is giving up her royal role to go into business with her controversial fiance, the nation’s king has announced.

In a bombshell announcement – said to be in accordance with her father King Harald’s wishes – Norway’s royal house revealed late on Tuesday (Australian time) that 51-year-old Martha Louise would give up her royal patronages and any official work.

She would no longer represent the royal family as she looked to “differentiate more clearly between her own activities and her relationship to the royal house of Norway”, the palace said.

The statement said Martha Louise would not use her princess title or reference other members of the royal family on social media, in media work or for other commercial purposes. An exception has been made for Instagram handle, and she will also keep her princess title.

The princess, who is fourth in line for the Norwegian throne, has been engaged to Los Angeles-based spiritual guru Durek Verrett since June.

Princess Märtha Louise announcement

Source: Instagram / Princess Märtha Louise

Mr Verrett is a controversial figure in Norway. He describes himself as a sixth-generation shaman who is dedicated to “serving global spiritual evolution” and “redefining what wellness means”.

He has sparked anger for promoting controversial medical opinions, including suggesting cancer is a choice in his book Spirit Hacking, and for reportedly claiming a ‘Spirit Optimiser’ medallion sold on his website helped him overcome COVID.

Mr Verrett’s relationship with Martha Louise is unpopular in Norway. In September, a poll found 17 per cent of Norwegians said their opinion of generally well-liked royal family had fallen, with most blaming the princess and her fiance.

Martha Louise herself has also long-embraced ‘alternative’ medicine, including starting a school to help people “get in touch with their angels”.

She had already agreed in 2019 that she would not use her title in connection to her business activities, after being accused of using it for commercial gain. She has not styled herself “Her Royal Highness” since 2002, when she chose to work as a clairvoyant.

In a video posted to the princess’s official Instagram page, she and Mr Verrett acknowledged the controversy sparked by their beliefs. Martha Louise said she hoped the change would bring “greater peace” herself and Mr Verrett, as well as the wider royal family.

“In consultation with his majesty the king and the rest of the immediate family, I have decided that, at the present time, I will not continue my official duties as patron of various organisations,” she said.

“Someone else in the family will take over my role. I wish the organisations the best of luck with the important work they are doing.”

The couple said they believed in science as well as alternative medicine. Mr Verrett said he wanted to support Martha Louise, and for her to be happy.

“If her life has become difficult because of some of the things that I have done, then that was never my intention. The same goes for her parents, the king and queen,” he said.

While Mr Verrett said he never intended to tarnish the royal family’s reputation, he said it was important he remained true to himself.

“I, like everyone else, have a right to autonomy to determine what I believe in and to speak up about it,” he said.”

Royal family condemns racist comments

The Norwegian royals said Mr Verrett would become a part of the royal family after he married Martha Louise, but he would not gain a title.

This was also true for her first husband, Ari Mikael Behn.

Mr Behn and the princess, who have three daughters, split in 2016. He died by suicide in 2019, aged 47.

Martha Louise and Mr Verrett will also continue to attend important family gatherings, such as birthday celebrations.

The royal statement said the family – including the 85-year-old monarch – was “pleased” to welcome Mr Verrett, but also had to “accommodate” other views.

The statement also condemned racism aimed at Mr Verrett.

“We deplore the racist attitudes that Durek Verrett has had to contend with, especially on social media. We consider it a strength that the royal house reflects Norway’s ethnic diversity,” it said.

“Unfortunately there are many people in Norway today who are subjected to discrimination and racism. We must work together as a society to put an end to intolerance.”

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