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Saturday, 25 August, 2001, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Norwegian prince ties the knot
The wedding ceremony
Commoner Mette-Marit becomes crown princess
Thousands of people in the Norwegian capital Oslo gave their cheerful blessing as Crown Prince Haakon married his controversial bride Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby.

European royalty were also out in force in the city's Lutheran cathedral to see Haakon marry single mother and former part-time waitress Miss Hoiby.


It's a little strange that a normal girl from Kristiansand is going to be our crown princess

Nina Camilla Endressen, 22, who shares the same home town

Norway's future queen, who has a four-year-old son by a man with a drugs conviction, has admitted having a wild past but Norwegian public opinion seems to have swung in her favour.

The couple exchanged vows in the cathedral before bishop Gunnar Staalseth, the hour-long ceremony relayed to thousands of people standing outside via a giant screen.

Haakon placed a ring of white gold on the finger of his bride, who wept throughout the ceremony, wiping the tears from her eyes with a white handkerchief.

Four-year-old Marius, the son of the new crown princess, acted as a page boy.

Unconventional

Norwegians' reaction to the unconventional royal marriage seems to be mirroring that of King Harold and Queen Sonia.

Norway's King Harald
The king and queen back the new royal couple
At first, they disapproved of the match but then were won over by Miss Hoiby, who spoke out against drugs last week.

An opinion poll published after her news conference showed a swing in public support for the student with a part-time waitressing job. Nearly 40% said they now had a better impression of her and 84% thought her honest about her past.

Difficult decision

At a final pre-wedding banquet, Prince Haakon acknowledged the disquiet in the country at his choice of bride and admitted that the decision to wed had not been easy.

The couple had lived together for more than a year, prompting much media speculation and public debate over their relationship.


Sometimes I wake up and wonder where I am

Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby

Some press coverage had blamed them for a slide in the royal family's popularity.

The royal wedding is the country's first since 1968, when Haakon's parents, King Harald V and then commoner, now Queen Sonja, were wed.

Guest list

Prince Edward
Prince Edward was among many European royals attending the wedding

The guests included the heir to the British throne, the Prince of Wales, his brother, the Earl of Wessex, Sweden's King Carl Gustaf, Denmark's Queen Margrethe, King Albert of Belgium, Prince Albert of Monaco and Spain's Crown Prince Felipe.

Miss Hoiby's son, Marius, will never be able to become king under Norway's constitution.

But the young couple have said they plan to make him part of a big royal family.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Malcolm Brabant
"The Bishop praised Mette-Marit's courage"
Vibeke Lialie, Norwegian News Agency
"There is something Diana-like about her"
See also:

30 May 01 | Europe
Courting controversy in Norway
09 Apr 01 | Europe
Norwegians start monarchy debate
21 May 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Norway
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