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Friday, 14 December, 2001, 20:07 GMT
Royal wedding causes stir in Norway
Princess Maertha Louise and Ari Behn
The decision has caused a new controversy in Norway
Norway is preparing for its second controversial royal wedding after Princess Maertha Louise has announced she will marry her boyfriend Ari Behn.


I found the courage to get down on my knees to propose. Finally, I can tell everybody how happy I am

Princess Maertha Louise

Mr Behn, 29, is a writer and has caused a stir in the country for making a television programme showing prostitutes taking cocaine in Las Vegas.

But the princess, who is 30, said she was in love with him.

"Here is the man that makes me shine. Here is the man who brings out the best in me. Here is the man who I want to share the rest of my life with."

Princess Maertha Louise is the older sister of Crown Prince Haakon, 28, who earlier this year shocked Norway by marrying a single mother Mette-Marit.

The glittering ceremony in Oslo was attended by many of European royalty.

Courageous

Norway has known for some time about Princess Maertha Louise's relationship with Mr Behn.

Princess Maertha Louise and Ari Behn
Princess admits there was no love at first sight

But until Thursday the pair declined to confirm the media reports.

"This morning, I found the courage to get down on my knees to propose. Finally, I can tell everybody how happy I am", the princess said.

They were introduced to each other by Mr Behn's mother, who is the princess' physiotherapy teacher.

"There was no love at first sight, more like love at third sight," the princess admitted.

The two will get married on 24 May next year in a cathedral in Trondheim.

Modern

Some critics have argued that Norway has gone too far in modernising its monarchy.


As an adult, I have obviously encountered (drug) problem in different groups and settings, and that is the way it is, unfortunately

Ari Behn
Crown Princess Mette-Marit, a former waitress, confessed to her wild past just days before the wedding.

The father of her four-year-old son, Marius, was sentenced to community service for possession of drugs.

But opinion polls show that most Norwegians have accepted their new crown princess with open arms, and show firm support for the royal family.

Mr Behn has also been questioned about his past, but he refused to say whether had taken drugs.

Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Crown Prince Haakon
Popular: Norwegians like their Crown Princess
"As an adult, I have obviously encountered (drug) problem in different groups and settings, and that is the way it is, unfortunately," he said.

Princess Maertha Louise, who is the eldest child of King Harald and Queen Sonja, will be the last first-born royal not to succeed the throne because of her gender - her younger brother will become king.

As of the next generation, the first born - male or female - will take the country's throne.

See also:

25 Aug 01 | Europe
Norwegian prince ties the knot
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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