It had been unusually quiet around Norway’s Princess Martha Louise, whose own father, King Harald, warned her new then-husband back in 2001 to always expect the unexpected. Now the since-divorced member of the royal family is embarking on a tour called “The Princess and the Shaman,” offering advice on “how to get in touch with your inner power” with an American spiritual adviser who’s also become her lover.
“Princess Märtha Louise and Shaman Durek (Durek Verrett of the US) invite a journey (sic) into the mysteries of life,” reads the promotional material for their appearances in Stavanger, Tromsø and Oslo next week.
They’re also holding so-called “workshops” entitled “Activating Divinity,” which is billed as putting “more focus on shamanic exercises and meditation than on the lectures, led by Princess Märtha Louise and Shaman Durek.” The couple, who confirmed their romantic relationship via social media Sunday night, “will take you on a journey to discover your activated divine self … talk about life, how to raise awareness … a magical journey that opens up your unique truth.” Tickets are priced at NOK 595 (nearly USD 70).
The two have been selling tickets for several weeks, after first teaming up last fall when they reportedly were introduced to each other through mutual acquaintances. Last night, they confirmed that they’re also kjærester, the Norwegian word for romantic partners in addition to business partners.
Both claim to have special powers that can be used for healing, even talking with the dead. The 47-year-old princess split up last year her with her former partner, Elisabeth Nordeng, with whom she’d co-founded their controversial “angel school” that helped people get in touch with their own “angels.”
Martha Louise, daugher of King Harald and Queen Sonja and older sister of Crown Prince Haakon, has raised controversy for years, from her horse-riding days when she was accused of breaking up a trainer’s marriage in England, to her marriage to the provocative Norwegian author that produced three daughters with unusual names but ended in divorce. She’s long been accused of exploiting her royal title to sell books, spiritual seminars and other ventures.
The 44-year-old Durek Verrett, meanwhile, bills himself as a “spiritual guide and gifted healer” and a “sixth-generation shaman who has devoted decades to study and practice in becoming a leader and spiritual enthusiast for people all over the world.” He grew up in California, son of a Norwegian-Indian woman and a father from Haiti. His customers reportedly have included some international celebrities, he’s written columns and once claimed he’d “cured” a cancer patient but later moderated his remarks after criticism. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) aired video of him Monday night showing how he leads customers into highly emotional out-of-body experiences.
It’s the couple’s use of the St Petri Church in Stavanger that was raising the most objections on Monday. Critics don’t want to see the church used for what they call “sjamanism,” and the pastor that took the initiative to “open the church” to “other types of religion” thinks the event is being met with fundamental skepticism.
“Our churches have a goal, and that’s the Christian faith,” countered Alain Fassotte. He and his wife Cecilie complained to NRK that the grounds for leasing out the church have not been followed. Their complaints, sent first to the local congregation’s council and then to the local bishop, were rejected, leading some to think those in charge just don’t want to challenge or further upset the royal family. Local pastor, Silje Trym Mathiassen, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that she “knows the princess, and thought this could be a good opportunity to hear about new spiritualism. It’s not the first time we open our church to people with another faith than Christian.”
She agrees, however, with critics who claim ticket prices for “The Princess and the Shaman” are high. Other events listed on the “Shaman Durek'” website, however, included one at the RA MA Institute in New York entitled “How to talk to spirits.” Its tickets cost USD 110.
Palace mostly mum
The Royal Palace, meanwhile, remained firmly mum on the latest uproar around the princess. Neither her parents nor the crown couple had any comment and the royal website seemed to be ignoring the entire event. It did object, however, to Verrett’s claim to newspaper Dagbladet that he’d been muzzled by the Royal Palace: “I’m not aware that Durek Verrett has been in contact with anyone here at the The Royal Palace,” Guri Ofstad Varpe, communications chief at the palace, told Dagbladet.
At least one Norwegian was expressing sympathy for the king and queen on social media Monday evening. King Harald would be holding an early Council of State with the government Tuesday morning, because of the country’s national day on Friday when the weekly meeting is usually held, and both he and Queen Sonja were hosting a luncheon for diplomats on Tuesday, as they tried to maintain business as usual.