Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway

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Mette-Marit
Crown Princess of Norway
The Crown Princess at the Wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden, June 2013
BornMette-Marit Tjessem Høiby
(1973-08-19) 19 August 1973 (age 50)
Kristiansand, Vest-Agder, Norway
Spouse
(m. 2001)
Issue
HouseGlücksburg (by marriage)
FatherSven O. Høiby
MotherMarit Tjessem
ReligionChurch of Norway

Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway (born Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby, pronounced [ˌmɛtːəˈmɑ̀ːrɪt ˈçɛ̀sːəm ˈhœ̀ʏbʏ], on 19 August 1973) is a member of the Norwegian Royal Family. She is married to Crown Prince Haakon, the heir apparent to the Norwegian throne, making Crown Princess Mette-Marit the next Queen consort of Norway.

A Norwegian commoner and single mother with a disadvantaged past, she was a controversial figure at the time of her engagement to Haakon in 2000. She became Crown Princess of Norway upon her marriage in 2001. The couple have two children, Ingrid Alexandra and Sverre Magnus, who are second and third in line to the Norwegian throne respectively. Mette-Marit additionally has a son from a previous unmarried brief relationship with Norwegian convicted felon Morten Borg.

In October 2018, she was diagnosed with a form of pulmonary fibrosis. She is being treated at Oslo University Hospital and has restricted her royal duties.[1]

Background and education[edit]

Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby was born in Kristiansand in the southern part of Norway, the daughter of Sven O. Høiby, who had been unemployed for some time but who had previously worked as a small-scale advertiser and journalist for a local paper in his hometown of Kristiansand, and Marit Tjessem, a former bank clerk. Her parents divorced, and her father later married professional stripper Renate Barsgård.[2] She has a sister and two older brothers, including Per Høiby. Her step-brother, Trond Berntsen, by her mother's 1994 marriage to Rolf Berntsen, died in the 2011 Norway attacks.[3] Mette-Marit grew up in Kristiansand, spending many weekends and holidays in the nearby valley of Setesdal and on the coast, where she learned to sail. During her youth, she was active in the local Slettheia youth club, where she was also an activity leader. As a teenager, she played volleyball, qualifying as a referee and coach.

After starting at Oddernes upper secondary school in Kristiansand, Mette-Marit spent six months at Wangaratta High School located in North East Victoria in Australia as an exchange student with the exchange organisation, Youth For Understanding. Later, she attended Kristiansand Cathedral School, where she passed her final examinations in 1994. She then spent several months working for the Norwegian-British Chamber of Commerce[4] at Norway House in Cockspur Street, London. When her assignment in London ended, Mette-Marit relocated to Norway.

By her own admission, Mette-Marit experienced a rebellious phase before she met Crown Prince Haakon Magnus.[5] As a part-time student, she took six years, longer than usual, to complete her high school education before going on to take preparatory college courses at Agder College. She then worked on and off as a waitress at the restaurant Café Engebret in Oslo.[6]

In the 1990s she was in a relationship with John Ognby, a man convicted of drug-related offenses.[7][8][9][10] The relationship with Ognby got serious to the degree that they had bought her wedding dress for their planned wedding.[11] A TV2 documentary titled Mette-Marit – vår tids Askepott focused on Mette-Marit's past.[8] In 1997 she had a son with Morten Borg, who was also a convicted felon and one of Ognby's close friends.[11]

In the late 1990s, Mette-Marit attended the Quart Festival, Norway's largest music festival, in her hometown of Kristiansand. She met Crown Prince Haakon at a garden party during the Quart Festival season.[12] Years later, after becoming a single mother she met the prince again at another party related to the festival.[12]

Since becoming crown princess, Mette-Marit has taken several university-level courses. In 2012, she obtained a master's degree in executive management.[13] Most of her ancestors were cotters and small farmers.[14]

Engagement and marriage[edit]

When the engagement between Crown Prince Haakon and Mette-Marit was announced, public and media reaction was negative, with many Norwegians being "horrified"[15] and feeling that the Crown Prince's choice of partner was questionable; her lack of education, previous relationships with convicted felons and her socialization in a milieu "where drugs were readily available" were often cited by critics.[16][17] At the time of their engagement, Mette-Marit was a single mother to a son named Marius Borg Høiby, born 13 January 1997 at Aker Hospital in Oslo[18] from her brief encounter with convicted felon[19] Morten Borg. Høiby and Borg were never cohabitants or in a formal relationship. Mette-Marit has said of Marius: "Marius became a symbol of the unusual choice we made when we got married (...) he will not have a public role and is not a public figure."[20] In 2017 he moved to the United States to attend an unspecified college.[21] In 2018 media reported that he had falsely portrayed himself as "prince", although he holds no title and is a commoner, not a royal.[22]

Her first official appearance as the intended bride of the Crown Prince was at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony at Oslo City Hall on 10 December 2000, following the announcement of the couple's engagement on 1 December. At the press conference, Haakon said that he and Mette-Marit had been together for about one year. Haakon gave Mette-Marit the same engagement ring that his grandfather King Olav V and his father King Harald V had given to their fiancées.[citation needed]

The couple married on 25 August 2001 at the Oslo Cathedral. Upon her marriage, she acquired the title, Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess of Norway.[23] They live outside Oslo at Skaugum estate.[citation needed]

The couple have two children together: Princess Ingrid Alexandra, born 21 January 2004 at The National Hospital in Oslo and Prince Sverre Magnus, born 3 December 2005 at The National Hospital in Oslo.[24]

Public life and further education[edit]

Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Crown Prince Haakon in 2010

During 2002 and 2003, the Crown Princess attended lectures in development studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, apparently without graduating. She was also accepted as an intern at NORAD, the Norwegian government's development organization. The appointment received criticism due to her lack of relevant qualifications.[25]

Mette-Marit attended lectures at the faculties of arts and social sciences at the University of Oslo, but did not graduate.[citation needed]

Crown Princess Mette-Marit is a patron of the Norwegian Red Cross and several other organizations.[26][27] In 2010, Crown Princess Mette-Marit was named Young Global Leader under the World Economic Forum, and in 2012 she became a member of the international Foundation Board of the Global Shapers Community.[26]

In 2015, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Kate Roberts, senior vice-president of Population Services International, established Maverick Collective.[26] On 26 April 2017, the Crown Princess was appointed as ambassador for Norwegian literature in the international arena.[26]

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit established The Crown Prince and Crown Princess's Foundation. The purpose of the foundation is to identify and support projects for young people in Norway with the objective of strengthening youth leadership and integration.[28]

In December 2008, she received the Annual Petter Dass prize, which recognises a person who helps to unite people and God.[citation needed]

In October 2018, she was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, which will limit her official programmes.[29] Mette-Marit, who has dealt with "health challenges on a regular basis" (such as pneumonia, several instances of norovirus, low blood pressure, along with some falls, concussions, a neck injury and a herniated disc[30]), will undergo treatment at Oslo University Hospital.[1]

UNAIDS[edit]

Crown Princess Mette-Marit became a UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador in 2006.[31] Her focus as goodwill ambassador is on the empowerment of youth in the AIDS response.[31] The Crown Princess participated in several international AIDS conferences and visited several countries to raise awareness of the work and mission of UNAIDS.[31] She assisting UNAIDS in its activities around youth program and leadership.[31] In later years, her work with UNAIDS expanded to highlighting the role of young women and adolescent girls in the AIDS response.[32]

During 2014 United Nations General Assembly, she emphasized how stigma and discrimination are undermining advances in the AIDS response.[33] The Crown Princess highlighted the opportunities offered by social media to empower young people in new areas of advocacy at the youth summit during her visit to Mali.[34] During a visit to Tanzania in April 2016, Crown Princess Mette-Marit said "It is moving to meet mothers who are in good health and caring for children born free from HIV thanks to antiretroviral medicines."[32] She also remarked that it's rewarding to see young skilled people in leadership roles of AIDS response and guiding the country towards an AIDS-free generation.[32] She also opened the Youth Pavilion at XVIII International AIDS Conference.[35]

Controversies[edit]

In 2012, she attracted controversy for assisting a Norwegian couple with ties to the royal family in procuring surrogacy services in India, despite that surrogacy is banned in Norway; she was criticized by women's rights groups of participating in human trafficking that exploits women in developing countries.[36] The next year, the practice was also banned in India as a form of human trafficking and harmful to women and children.[37][38]

In 2019, she attracted controversy for her friendship with the American convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein; she met him several times between 2011 and 2013, after his conviction on charges of sex trafficking of minors in 2008 and release from prison. Crown Prince Haakon also met Epstein during one of these occasions while the couple were on a holiday in Saint Barthélemy.[39][40][41] Her friendship with Epstein was revealed by Norwegian media in the context of the scandal involving Prince Andrew, Duke of York, who in that year resigned from all public roles over his longstanding ties to Epstein and allegations of sexual abuse. In a statement, Mette-Marit spoke of her regret in failing to investigate Epstein's past. The Royal Palace's communications manager Guri Varpe stated that the Crown Princess ceased contact with Epstein as he was attempting to use his connection to her to "influence other people."[39][42]

Titles, styles and honours[edit]

Titles[edit]

  • 19 August 1973 – 25 August 2001: Miss Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby[43]
  • 25 August 2001 – present: Her Royal Highness The Crown Princess of Norway[44]

Mette-Marit has been Crown Princess of Norway since her marriage.

Arms[edit]

[45]

Honours and medals[edit]

National honours and medals[edit]

Foreign honours[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]