Norway’s Queen Sonja Says ‘Americans Don’t Understand’ Royalty


  • Princess Märtha Louise of Norway formally renounced her royal duties on Wednesday. 
  • The royal is engaged to Durek Verrett, an American shaman, who works with alternative medicine. 
  • In the aftermath of the decision, her mother, Queen Sonja, said Americans “don’t understand” royalty.

Queen Sonja of Norway said Americans don’t fully appreciate nor understand the importance of a monarchy after her daughter announced she’d given up her royal duties to pursue a life with her American fiancé.

On Tuesday, the Norwegian royal house announced on its official website that Princess Märtha Louise, 51, would no longer perform official royal engagements. The princess, who is the eldest child of King Harald and Queen Sonja, got engaged to Durek Verrett, a shaman from the US, in June.

In a separate statement shared on the official Norwegian royal website, Märtha Louise said that her and Verrett’s beliefs in spiritual healing and alternative medicine played a role in why she decided to step back from royal life. 

However, at a press conference on Tuesday, her mother indicated cultural differences were also at play. According to Hello! magazine, Sonja, 85, was asked about Verrett’s shamanic practices and said that he didn’t understand why his work would affect the image of the royal family. 

“Americans have no idea what a kingdom is. So it’s no wonder he doesn’t realize,” Sonja said, according to the publication.

“Americans don’t understand the bearing of this here. They don’t. He thought he could do whatever he wanted without compromising us at all,” she added.

Princess Martha-Louise of Norway (L) and her fiancé self-professed shaman Durek Verrett (R) arrive at the government's party celebratation of Norway's Princess' 18th birthday at Deichman Bjoervika, Oslo's main library, in Oslo, Norway, on June 16, 2022,

Princess Martha-Louise of Norway (left) and her fiancé Durek Verrett (right) in Oslo, Norway on June 16, 2022.

LISE ASERUD/NTB/AFP via Getty Images

At the press conference, Harald said his daughter would keep her title, but that he was “sorry” to see that she would no longer be representing the royal family. “She is our daughter and she will continue to be,” he added. 

Despite cultural differences and belief systems leading to Märtha Louise relinquishing her duties, Sonja and Harald maintained the family remain close to her and Verrett. 

“Even if we disagree on things, we are happy with each other,” Sonja said. “I have the feeling that the family is now very close to each other in a new, nice way.”

Norway's King Harald and Queen Sonja comment on Norway's Princess Martha Louise who will no longer carry out official duties for the Royal Household in Oslo, on November 8, 2022

Norway’s King Harald and Queen Sonja in Oslo, Norway, on November 8, 2022.


In giving up her royal duties, Märtha Louise – who has three children with her late ex-husband, Ari Behn – will also be giving up her patronages and agreeing not to refer to members of the royal household on her social media channels with Verrett, the announcement detailed.

It added that the changes would ensure there is a clear divide between Märtha Louise and Verrett’s practices, which include crystal healing, acupuncture, yoga, and natural remedies, and the royal household. 

“I am aware that many people follow what I do and say very closely,” the princess said in her announcement. “My title entails a certain responsibility. It is therefore important to me, including in my business activity, to distinguish between myself as a private person on the one hand and as a member of the Royal Family on the other.”

Representatives for the Norwegian royal household did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

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