The daughter of Norway’s King Harald V has been criticized for years for using her “princess” title in connection with her various business ventures. Now she’s finally admitted that she made “a mistake,” and she’ll only use “Martha Louise” in a commercial context.
The criticism began nearly 20 years ago, when Martha Louise (spelled “Märtha” in Norwegian) began publishing books and launched what became known as her “angel school,” which was aimed at helping people get in touch with their own angels. She has also taken part in programs about how to communicate with the dead, but the criticism reached fever pitch earlier this year when the recently divorced princess set off on a promotional tour entitled “The Princess and the Shaman,” with her new romantic partner, an American known as “Shaman” Durek Verrett.
“There’s been a lot of discussion over my use of (my) title in a commercial context recently,” Martha Louise wrote on social media Wednesday. She has earlier dismissed most of the criticism against her, refused to give up her title and even claimed she feels persecuted. She has often blamed the media for much of the criticism against her.
On Wednesday, however, she wrote that she was “very sorry” for using her title on the speaking tour with Durek Verrett. “It was a mistake and I understand that it provoked (people) when the princess-title was used in that manner,” Martha Louise wrote.
She claimed she had taken the “discussions” seriously, and her parents and brother, Crown Prince Haakon, clearly did as well. The crown prince told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) in May that he was following the public debate, “what’s been said and written,” not least after the local newspaper in his wife’s hometown of Kristiansand called for Martha Louise to give up her title.
‘Dialogue’ ended the commercial exploitation
“What we want is to have a dialogue with my sister, especially about titles and business activities,” the crown prince told NRK. He also seemed to dismiss Martha Louise’s own criticism of the media in June: “The Royal Family has good cooperation with the media,” Haakon said. “The press does an important job in the Norwegian society.”
Prime Minister Erna Solberg got caught in the debate as well, but deferred to the monarch. “I think the king himself has to evaluate these questions,” Solberg told NRK, “and they have said that they’re following developments and how she uses the princess name.”
On Wednesday, Solberg called the title decision “wise,” and in line with “what the Norwegian people think on this issue.” Solberg added that it was “good that she (Martha Louise) listened” to the criticism.
Jonas Gahr Støre, the opposition Labour Party’s candidate for prime minister, was among the critics. He called for tolerance for some of Martha Louise’s unconventional business activities, but said he was “skeptical and critical” towards “using a princess title, which is inherited, for commerial purposes where you can earn money on the title.”
Eivind Smith, a law professor at the University of Oslo, pointed out in June that royal titles are the responsibility of Martha Louise’s father King Harald. Guri Varpe, communications chief at the Royal Palace, confirmed to NRK that the royals and their staff were “following the debate … and will be in dialogue with the princess regarding the marketing of her business operations.”
The “dialogue” clearly has had an effect. “In cooperation with my family we have decided that it’s best that we make some changes,” Martha Louise wrote. “We have therefore reached agreement that I will use the princess title when I represent the Royal Family, perform officials duties in and out of Norway and in private.
“That means that in all commercial situations, I will only use Martha Louise.”
She called it “a good solution” that will “clearly separate” her commercial ventures from her role as a representative of the Royal Family. She wrote that it can also offer her “more freedom” in her business operations.
The editor of the newspaper Fædrelandsvennen in Kristiansand who had called on her to give up her title was relieved. “If the princess now stops using her title in a commerical context, this is good news,” said editor Vidar Udjus. “No one should earn money on having a royal title. The Royal Family shall serve the people, not earn money on them.” He thinks the “noise” around Martha Louise has weakend the entire royal family.
The Royal Palace posted a short statement on its official website confirming that Martha Louise will no longer use her princess title in her businesses, only her name (Märtha/Martha Louise) in “income-generating” operations, with no further elaboration. Martha Louise’s manager, Carina Scheele Carlsen, issued a statement that “Princess Martha Louise doesn’t want to comment further on the issue.”
NRK noted that Martha Louise also set up a new Instagram account, calling it “my new page for my work related projects where I use my name without my title. I am simply Märtha Louise. Let’s explore life and go on adventures together.”