A majority of Norwegians no longer thinks Princess Martha Louise should represent the Royal Family in official duties. A new survey also found that only 13 percent think she should.
That’s record low support for any of the royals, and is believed tied to what one royal expert calls her association with the “occult.” Tor Bomann-Larsen, who has written several royal biographies, pointed to her endorsement of her American fiancé’s controversial medallion that he claims cured his Covid-19 infection.
“I think this is more about the occult phenomenon she’s been associated with, than the princess as a person,” Bomann-Larsen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “I don’t think this is directed at her, but a majority of the Norwegian people distance themselves from the occult, or special powers, perhaps bordering on viewing them as swindle.”
Martha Louise has said she intends to marry the self-declared shahman Durek Verrett and move to the US. She’s earlier been accused of commercially exploiting her title, also before meeting Verrett, and agreed to stop doing so after discussions with her father, King Harald V, and her brother, Crown Prince Haakon. She has nonetheless appeared on social media photographed with his medallion, which carries a high pricetag.
Verrett, meanwhile, continues to stir controversy over his alternative views on health care, especially after claiming that the medallion helped make him well again after he’d opted to leave a hospital. Norway’s epilepsy foundation opted to end its cooperation with the princess, who had served as its patron, two years ago because, according to NRK, of several statements made by Verrett that collide with the foundation’s values and ethics.
Other foundations have also reconsidered having the princess as a patron, or asked her to clarify her view on alternative treatments and whether she supports her fiancé’s view on health care.
The new survey was conducted by research firm Norstat for NRK, which reported this week that its results “send a clear message” to the princes: “She should stop representing Norway’s royal family. When asked whether respondents think she should carry out official duties, 51 percent answered “no.”
It’s the gap between that albeit slim majority and the 13 percent who think she should, that surprises historian Trond Norén Isaksen. He’s also followed the royal family for years.
“This shows that the people think there’s a need to create more distance between Princess Martha Louise and what her fiancé does, and the royal family’s work,” Isaksen told NRK. “That’s the clear signal to the king. It’s also a sign of a lack of confidence in the princess.”
The survey also showed that only 8 percent of those questioned responded that their view of the royal family had become more positive during the past year. Another 17 percent responded that it had become more negative, while 70 percent said it was unchanged. The remaining 5 percent had no opinion.
Isaksen thinks the survey should be taken “very seriously” by the royal family. King Harald himself has said the family would “talk with” Verret and was “in a process” of becoming better acquainted. He attributed some of the uproar around him to “culture clashes.”
Isaksen, however, warns that the royal family “exists at the will of the people, and the people’s support is of critical importance. A royal family who doesn’t have the full support of the people has no legitimacy.” He sees only two alternatives: that Martha Louise ends all royal representation or that she gives up her title as a princess. “Then she’d be free to do what she wants within the limit of the law, and at the same time no one can say she’s a problem for the family,” Isaksen said. “Yes, she’d still be the king’s daughter, but it would be clear that she has no formal function at the palace.”
A vast majority of Norwegians still supports the monarchy itself, “but we’re hearing expressions like ‘charlatan’ and ‘quackery’ in the same sentence as the royal family, and that’s a problem for their integrity,” Isaksen said. “In the end, they can’t live with questions being posed about integrity.”