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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 April, 2003, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Norway gets new royal
Princess Martha Louise and Ari Behn
Martha Louise and Ari Behn married in May last year

Norway's Princess Martha Louise has given birth to a daughter, the country's first royal baby in nearly 30 years.

The girl, who was named Maud Angelica Behn, will be third in line to the throne after Crown Prince Haakon and Martha Louise, who is his older sister.

She could also be the first Norwegian royal to benefit from a new law allowing the oldest child of the monarch to inherit the throne regardless of sex.

Martha Louise would become monarch if Haakon could not do so or if he died without having a child of his own.

Analysts say the birth may improve the standing of the monarchy, which has incurred some disapproval over Haakon's and Martha Louise's choices of partner.

'Happy day'

Maud Angelica was born in an Oslo hospital at 2030 local time (1830 GMT) on Tuesday.

King Harald V
Crown Prince Haakon
Princess Martha Louise
Maud Angelica Behn

"This is a happy day for all the Norwegian people," Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik told Norwegian TV in response to the news.

The baby was named after Maud Saxe-Coburg, granddaughter of Britain's Queen Victoria and wife of Haakon VII, Norway's first king after independence from Sweden in 1905.

She is the first baby to be born into the royal family since Crown Prince Haakon himself in 1973.

Her mother is two years older than the prince, but does not benefit from the new law on accession which was introduced in 1990.

The princess last year married writer Ari Behn, who has in the past been vilified in the Norwegian press as a party animal and an unsuitable match.

Mr Behn, the author of a book of short stories, has upset some Norwegians by making a television programme showing prostitutes taking cocaine in Las Vegas.

Prince Haakon also married controversially the previous year.

His wife, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, has a son by a man with a drugs conviction, and has admitted to a wild past.

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