It’s been 10 years since Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon first reluctantly announced, on national TV, that “yes, I have a girlfriend, her name is Mette-Marit.” Today, the former party girl and single mother has become a darling of sorts in Norway, and arguably the most popular member of the royal family.
Mette-Marit has come a long way since she first met Norway’s crown prince in the 1990s.
When Haakon, as heir to the throne himself, finally felt compelled to confirm their romance, he also confronted reports flying at the time that she had been active on Norway’s wild house party scene, had no college degree and was the single mother of a little boy. She favored blue jeans and jogging shoes, enjoyed rock concerts and had worked as a waitress.
Not exactly the type likely to soon be mingling with royals and becoming a queen herself. But Haakon was determined, and before they married in 2001, Mette-Marit publicly and tearfully confessed that she regretted her wild past, denounced drug use and would work hard to win Norwegians’ respect.
Many today would argue that she has. “Mette-Marit’s fellow citizens in Sørlandet (the southern part of Norway where she’s from) were critical, to put it mildly,” Beate Barth-Nossum, editorial page editor of the area’s major newspaper at the time, told news bureau NTB this week. “But feelings for the crown princess have changed, from the deepest skepticism to great pride.”
From being awkward in the spotlight, Crown Princess Mette-Marit now associates with heads of state and other royals with poise and confidence. She’s become a fashion icon, predictably enough in her role, and engaged herself in a variety of social causes, from HIV/AIDS to anti-poverty and development programs. She’s studied at colleges in both Oslo and London, done work for the United Nations, is a fixture at major events and waved for hours from the palace balcony on the 17th of May.
She has borne two more children since marrying Haakon, Princess Ingrid Alexandra, age six, and Prince Sverre Magnus, age four. Her son from her earlier relationship. now 13, also lives with the family on the royal estate at Skaugum.
“This is no fairy tale, and I’m no Cinderella,” Mette-Marit claimed back in June 2001, two months before her royal wedding. Others might disagree, but she’s indicated she doesn’t care. “I think I would become utterly exhausted if I tried to relate to everything that’s been said or written about me,” she told an Oslo tabloid earlier this year.