Details About Princess Mette-Marit Of Norway's Marriage

Marrying into a European royal family might sound like a dream come true, but for many royal brides, the reality is more like a nightmare. Over the years, young women like Lady Diana Spencer and Charlene Wittstock have walked down the aisle with their respective princes — only to find that royal life was not what they expected. Princess Diana, for example, struggled to maintain a stiff upper lip, once bursting into tears in the middle of an engagement. Charlene, Princess of Monaco, meanwhile, had to learn to live with the French press, which constantly peddled rumors about her marriage.

Interestingly, however, there is one European princess who transitioned relatively seamlessly into her newfound royal role. Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby, who wed Prince Haakon in 2001, surprised many royal fans by becoming the ever-popular Crown Princess of Norway. Despite some initial push-back regarding the class differences in the couple's relationship — Mette-Marit was a single mother and a former waitress — it did not take long for the princess to become successful in her public role. Indeed, Mette-Marit's common touch helped her connect to Norwegian citizens, as she engaged in philanthropic activities across the country.

Of course, it is important to note that Mette-Marit did not become a popular princess all on her own. Prince Haakon has been said to be her teammate and her support system over the years. From the couple's controversial wedding to their heartwarming 20th anniversary, here is a glimpse into Mette-Marit and Haakon's marriage.

Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Marit came from different worlds

These days, Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Marit are known as something of a royal power couple, but the pair was not exactly destined to get together. In many ways, Haakon and Mette-Marit came from very different worlds — a fact that made them a somewhat unlikely pairing. 

Indeed, Mette-Marit grew up in a middle-class family, far from the glitz and glam of palace living. Over the years, her parents struggled financially, as her father, Sven O. Høiby, often underwent unemployment. Although the princess did have food to eat and a roof over her head throughout her childhood, her family situation was far from stable. As Mette-Marit revealed in a small press conference in the village of Snåsa, her father struggled with addiction during her youth. "As a child, I always felt that I had something I had to hide because none of my friends knew my father was an alcoholic," the princess shared (via The Local).

In contrast to the struggles that characterized Mette-Marit's childhood, her future husband grew up in a world of luxury. As a born prince, Haakon was given the chance to travel the world and obtain an elite education. In fact, over the years, he studied at top-ranked institutions, such as the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Oslo, and the London School of Economics. Ultimately, these experiences gave Haakon a very privileged view of the world around him.

Mette-Marit and Haakon's marriage was controversial at first

Perhaps because they came from such different backgrounds, Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Marit struggled to earn the public's approval of their marriage. Indeed, when they announced their engagement in 2000, the couple faced a considerable amount of blowback. 

After all, Mette-Marit was a commoner — and a far cry from being your conventional princess. Unlike the likes of Princess Diana or Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, before her, Mette-Marit was not from a privileged background. She was a single mom who had worked as a waitress. As she herself once hinted, Mette-Marit had also misused drugs during her younger years. In an interview with People, Norwegian reporter Rune Saevik explained: "The establishment felt she was not good enough for the prince — too nontraditional, too middle-class — and there were questions about her past." Ultimately, this led to a wave of media criticism. One 2001 piece in the Independent referred to her, condescendingly, as "the future Queen of Norway, a former waitress, single mother and alleged connoisseur of recreational drugs."

Despite the initial scandal of Mette-Marit and Haakon's intention to wed, the Norwegian people largely accepted the princess for who she was. In turn, Mette-Marit issued a public statement about her past, stating: "My youth rebellion was much stronger than many others ... I would like to take this opportunity to say that I condemn drugs. I cannot make these choices again, even though I would wish I could" (via the BBC).

They tied the knot in a fairytale wedding

Ultimately, Princess Mette-Marit and Prince Haakon did not allow any of the media criticism get in the way of their love story. The couple tied in the knot in a romantic ceremony at Oslo Cathedral on August 25, 2001. As reported by People, Mette-Marit and Haakon's wedding was an elegant event that did nothing to hide the respective personalities of the bride and groom. Dressed in a simple yet stylish gown designed by local stylist, Ove Harder Finseth, the princess-to-be allowed her natural beauty to shine. Haakon, meanwhile, wore full military regalia as a sign of his royal status.

Of course, Mette-Marit's son, Marius Borg Høiby, was included in the festivities of the day. Wearing a miniature tuxedo that didn't quite fit, the little towhead blond played an important role in the ceremony. During the service itself, Marius turned heads as an adorable page boy. Afterward, he was invited to greet the crowds from the cathedral balcony along with other royal family members — although he himself would never join the line of succession.

If Marius did not have any royal blood, many of the other guests did. King Charles III was reported to have attended the spectacular event, along with King Albert II and Queen Paola of Belgium, and Prince Albert of Monaco. Even among those notable people, though, Mette-Marit and Marius looked wonderful. Indeed, as they stood before the crowds, the mother and son's lives changed forever.  

Haakon cared for Mette-Marit's son, Marius

Following their fairytale wedding, both Princess Mette-Marit and Prince Haakon had to make some adjustments. While Mette-Marit needed to adapt to her royal role, Haakon had to take on the responsibility of being Marius Borg Høiby's legal stepfather. That isn't to say that Haakon and Marius did not have a relationship prior to the royal wedding. On the contrary, the pair already knew each other well, as the prince had actually lived with Mette-Marit for eight months prior to tying the knot. That being said, Haakon was now faced with the new responsibility of helping Marius become a member of the royal family — even though the boy would never be a full prince.

Speaking to The New York Times in 2001, Haakon opened up about this predicament. "Marius will be a full-fledged member of our family, but he will not get a title, unless my father decides to give him one, and I don't think that's very likely," Haakon divulged. In spite of Marius' unusual status, Haakon has made an effort to show the boy that he cares. Over the years, the proud stepfather has gone on special outings with Marius. Once, in 2006, the pair were photographed together as Haakon taught Marius how to windsurf. Even more telling, though, was that when Haakon and Mette-Marit discovered they were expecting a child of their own, the prince told the press that Marius, too, had made him a "bonus" father.

The couple had two other children

Marius Borg Høiby may be beloved by the royal family, but he isn't the only royal child of Princess Mette-Marit and Prince Haakon. After their marriage, the happy couple welcomed two more children into the family — Princess Ingrid Alexandra, who was born in 2004, and Prince Sverre Magnus, who came into the world just one year later.

According to a report by Hello!, Mette-Marit and Haakon were ecstatic about the prospect of growing their family. When announcing Mette-Marit's first pregnancy after the wedding, the prince reportedly shared: "We're very happy and content — not just because we're bringing a baby into the world, but also because after going public with the news, we don't have the pressure of keeping it a secret. Protocol kept us from announcing the pregnancy until after the first three months."

However, just because Mette-Marit and Haakon were excited to share this good news with the world does not mean that the couple did not respect their children's privacy. On the contrary, the pair have been known to work hard to keep their three kids out of the spotlight — despite the royal roles of the younger two. The couple is believed to be especially protective of Marius, though, as Mette-Marit publicly asked the press to give the boy some privacy. Indeed, in 2017, she published an open letter on the official Norwegian royal website, asserting: "Marius does not want to live a life in the public eye."

The prince and princess pursued philanthropic projects together

Over the years, Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Marit have worked together on a number of philanthropic issues, with youth outreach being one of the duo's particular interests. In fact, shortly after the couple walked down the aisle, they co-founded The Crown Prince and Crown Princess' Foundation. According to The Royal House of Norway, this joint effort "focuses on youth and young people who, for various reasons, risk being left on the outside of the community." Historically, the foundation has supported a wide variety of projects, ranging from academic enrichment programs to refugee employment programs.

Interestingly, the fact that Haakon and Mette-Marit work together on this philanthropic project is likely good for their marriage. As dating coach, Erika Ettin, revealed in an interview with the Elite Daily: "Shared values and communication are probably the most important aspects of a relationship." When the prince and princess join forces and work for the same cause, they have the opportunity to reflect on similar ideas that they hold dear. 

We can see those shared values when the couple talks about the future of young people. "As a society, I don't think we can survive without truly [listening] to young people and to develop their skills," Mette-Marit expressed in her 2013 Empowering Youth speech. Years later, Haakon echoed his wife's thought on NRK: "I think we all have to do a little extra for our young people now in the future."

Mette-Marit and Haakon say that they've changed each other

Even though Princess Mette-Marit and Prince Haakon have worked together on youth outreach projects, it's important to remember that the prince and princess are very different people. Indeed, Mette-Marit and Haakon are each said to have their own unique personality — as well as a very different set of tastes. This was especially evident in 2021 when the couple was set to appear on the NRK "Summer in P2" radio program. Apparently, they were asked to come up with a list of six songs and one poem, which would then be aired as a part of the special. Mette-Marit told the outlet: "Haakon and I are very different. When I asked him to join me on this program, he said: 'Not with that playlist!' And when I wanted to read poetry, he didn't want to join."

Ultimately, though, the couple does not seem deterred by their differences. If anything, Haakon and Mette-Marit seem to think that their unique qualities are what make them such a strong couple. As the princess explained on NRK: "But I think it's nice. That we are different." Apparently, from Mette-Marit's perspective, being unlike her husband has allowed her to grow and change. And, she says, the same is true for Haakon. "Haakon has become softer by being with me, and I have learned a lot about what it means to be a proper person," she explained.

They try to keep things normal

Princess Mette-Marit and Prince Haakon may be royals with a certain level of fame, but that doesn't mean that they don't try to keep things real. One of the things that likely keeps the couple's marriage alive is their attempts to maintain a sense of normalcy. Speaking to the Norwegian outlet, Dagbladet (via Hello!), Haakon confessed: "We're normal and vulnerable people." 

Because of this more down-to-earth approach, the couple tries to make themselves available to their three children, especially when they need a bit of extra TLC. "Mette has this great talent of connecting with people, so that they open up and feel good," Haakon shared. "Her empathy is a talent. The same thing happens with the children. If they have problems, they go to her. She knows how to deal with them well." Of course, the crown princess is not the only one who the three children feel that they can rely on. Marius Borg Høiby, Princess Ingrid, and Prince Sverre can all count on their dad, as well. Even as Haakon insisted that Mette was the kids' go-to helper, the crown princess interjected: "Thanks Haakon but that isn't completely true. The children also go to you asking for advice and help."

Haakon supported Mette-Marit when she fell ill

In a healthy marriage, partners generally support each other during a time of need. Luckily for Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Marit, their relationship seems to encompass this ideal. This was especially clear in 2018 when Mette-Marit was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. According to the Mayo Clinic, pulmonary fibrosis is a condition affecting the lungs, where the lung tissue is damaged and develops scarring. As of publication, there is no cure for the condition, although there exist several treatment plans to help ease patients' symptoms.

In light of Mette-Marit's tragic diagnosis with this disease, Haakon has stepped up and given his wife the chance to take a step back from her own royal duties. This has allowed the princess to take care of herself physically, without worrying about what the world thinks of her. Speaking on NRK's "Summer in P2" radio special, Mette-Marit relayed: "During the time I have been ill, it has become more important to me than ever to just be Mette. And that it's okay. That I don't need to define myself based on the fact that I am crown princess, but that I am allowed to be Mette first."

Ultimately, this has given the princess a newfound sense of peace. "On the days I have been unwell, I have been able to rest without feeling guilty. And now it's strange that I feel better than I have in many years," she explained.

20 years in, Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Marit are still in love

Even as Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Marit have faced difficulties in their marriage over the years, they have not let the fire die. When the couple celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary in 2021, they continued to speak highly of each other. Speaking on NRK's "Summer in P2" radio special, Mette-Marit divulged the sweet reasons why she first fell in love with Haakon: "He saw me. He understood me. He was curious. And he held me."

Haakon, on the other hand, said on NRK: "The bright southern girl made an impression on me. You notice when Mette enters a room. There is a force there that is not so easily overlooked. She seemed confident and worldly. ... It felt safe when we were together."

As if that wasn't adorable enough, Haakon said on the radio program that he admired Mette-Marit for taking on the job of a single mother. If anything, he revealed, this was a sign that the future princess would be able to handle the pressures of public life. "The fact that she had a young child really only told me that she wasn't afraid to take on commitment and responsibility," Haakon explained. "She did not become any less attractive in my eyes for that reason."

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