King of Norway ‘should have stopped’ Märtha years ago after criticism

Princess Märtha Louise stepping down as patron for organisations

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Princess Märtha Louise of Norway has relinquished her royal duties to focus on her alternative medicine business with her fiancee — a self-proclaimed shaman. The 51-year-old Princess is engaged to Durek Verrett, a Hollywood spiritual guru, and their relationship has long caused waves in Norway and among the Norwegian royals. Royal experts have claimed that Norway’s King Harald should have stopped his daughter from engaging in certain practices publicly years ago. 

In 2014, Princess Märtha promoted a British medium during a seminar for her so-called “angel school”. Subsequently, experts said the royal’s association with the medium could damage the stature of the Norwegian royal family. 

Martha, who is fourth in line to the throne, had only recently returned to her home country having spent a few years living in London. Her project stirred controversy, particularly because she and her business partner Elisabeth Nordeng charged followers NOK 1,540 (£130.90) to attend the seminar which featured medium Lisa Williams, who claims she can help cure the ill and arrange contact with dead loved ones.

Norwegian bishops were the first to call out the Princess’ involvement with Ms Williams, and royal watchers were quick to follow. Johan T Lindwall, an author who follows royals for Swedish news outlet Expressen, told newspaper VG: “King Harald should have told her long ago that this is not acceptable. King Harald V should have stopped his daughter’s appearance with Lisa Williams.”

Royal palace officials issued a curt “no comment” to requests for reaction at the time. Princess Märtha had been criticised for commercially exploiting her royal title when she and Ms Nordeng launched their training programme — Astarte Inspiration, named after a Middle Eastern goddess — which helps clients get in touch with their departed loved ones, their ‘angels’. 

Richard Fitzwilliams, a British royal expert and commentator, said: “It’s one thing to have a private belief in something, but something quite different to assert this belief in public. To me, she seems unwise.”

Meanwhile, historian and royal expert in Denmark, Lars Hovbakke Sørensen, told Dagbladet Princess Märtha “can damage the entire Norwegian royal family”.

He continued: “The most important, of course, is how Crown Prince Haakon and Mette-Marit maintain their roles, but the princess means a lot for the royals’ overall popularity.”

However, the Princess reportedly understood her appearance with the medium may damage the royal family. She has long been viewed as headstrong and determined, with her father largely remaining quiet about her various commercial ventures. 

She told Dagbladet: “When we started the angel school in 2007, people said that would damage the royal house too. Everything is very damaging for the royal house. But, of course, I see that it can be.

“At the same time, I hope that now the angel school is so established as the job I have, and the royal house is something else. But I am part of the royal family.”

A poll in September found 17 percent of Norwegians now have a lower opinion of the generally popular royal family, nearly all citing the Princess and her boyfriend as the reason.

Märtha, who claims to be able to speak with angels, lost her honorific ‘Her Royal Highness’ title in 2002 when she chose to work as a clairvoyant. In 2019, the divorced mother of three agreed not to use her title as princess in her commercial endeavours. 

She had teamed up with her Durek for workshops called ‘The Princess and the Shaman’ to take attendees on a journey of “self-discovery”.

However, following widespread criticism, Martha created a separate Instagram account for her work and addressed the “mistake” she had previously made when she used her royal title in a series of seminars hosted with her then-boyfriend. 

Writing on Instagram, she explained: “The fact that I used Princess in the title of my tour, I have said before that I am very sorry, and I still stand by that. It was a mistake and I understand that it provokes when the princess title is used this way. The discussions are something I have taken seriously, and in collaboration with my family we have found that it is best that we make some changes.” 

Now, an official palace statement confirmed: “The Princess … is relinquishing the role as royal patron … and will not be representing the royal house at the present time.” However, “in accordance with the King’s wishes, the Princess will keep her title”.

It was previously said once the Princess and Durek married he would become a member of the royal family but would not be given a title or represent the monarchy officially. 

The couple have agreed to refrain from any association with the royal family in their social media channels, media productions and commercial activities. “This is intended to draw a dividing line that more clearly separates commercial activity from the royal house of Norway,” the Palace said.

It added the royal family had “great confidence in the Norwegian health service and the Norwegian health authorities,” emphasising the importance of “established medical knowledge and scientific research”.

In the same statement, Märtha said she was “aware of the importance of research-based knowledge”.

She added: “I also believe, however, that there are components of a good life and sound physical and mental health that may not be so easy to sum up in a research report,” and that, “spirituality, intimacy with other people and animals, yoga and meditation” could be important supplements, as could “a warm hand, an acupuncture needle, a crystal”.

Märtha said she felt it was important “to distinguish between myself as a private person on the one hand and as a member of the royal family on the other,” and hoped her personal views would be treated as her own “without others having to answer for them”.

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