Norway princess announces engagement to US shaman partner

Norway's royal court on Tuesday announced the engagement of Princess Martha Louise to her US boyfriend Durek Verrett, a self-professed shaman and guru to celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow.

A file photo of Norway's Princess Märtha Louise.
A file photo of Norway's Princess Märtha Louise. Photo: TIBRINA HOBSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

Fourth in the order of succession behind her brother Prince Haakon and his children, Princess Martha Louise, 50, has previously relinquished most of her official titles and duties in order to devote herself to her private activities. 

“His Majesty the King and Her Majesty the Queen send their most heartfelt congratulations and wish them all the best in the future,” the Royal House of Norway said in a statement.

Martha Louise has three daughters from a previous marriage to Norwegian author Ari Behn, who committed suicide in December 2019. The couple had divorced in 2016.

The princess confirmed her relationship to Verrett, 47, also known as Shaman Durek, in 2019.

Martha Louise has been an enthusiast of “alternative therapies” and has an eccentric image in Scandinavia, claiming to communicate with angels, a gift she tries to share through courses and books.

Verrett, who is based in California, has become known as a celebrity shaman, serving as a guru to likes of Paltrow, the Oscar-winning actress turned businesswoman, who founded the lifestyle brand, Goop.

Verrett also confirmed the engagement on social media.

“She said YES!” Verrett said in a post to Instagram.

The couple’s relationship has been scrutinised in the Norwegian media, and the princess was criticised for mixing business and royal affairs when she promoted a speaking tour called “The Princess and the Shaman”.

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Norwegian royals provide accommodation for Ukrainian refugees

Refugees from Ukraine have been given a place to stay at property owned by Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway.

Norwegian royals provide accommodation for Ukrainian refugees

The Norwegian palace confirmed the situation on Tuesday, news wire NTB reported.

“The refugees will be followed up with the usual procedures used by authorities and municipalities. The refugees have been in Norway for a while,” the palace’s head of communications Guri Ofstad Varpe told newspaper Klassekampen.

While the refugees are staying in property owned by Crown Prince Haakon, the heir to the Norwegian throne, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit, the Crown Prince and Princess are not staying with the refugees.

Three Ukrainian nationals and their children have been provided accommodation under the arrangement.

The palace did not disclose details of their location or the expected duration of their stay, for reasons of privacy.

Around 10,000 Ukrainian refugees are currently waiting to be assigned a place to live in Norway.

Asker Municipality near Oslo recently stated it had 480 available homes for Ukrainian refugees.

The Norwegian Crown Prince and Princess are not the first European royals to take in refugees from Ukraine. Belgium’s King Phillippe and Queen Mathilde have taken a similar step.