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Norway’s princess Martha Louise sets wedding date to ‘shaman’ Durek Verrett

LONDON — Norway’s princess has set a date to wed American Durek Verrett, a self-described “shaman” who has raised eyebrows in the country with controversial claims. Among other things, he has dismissed conventional cancer treatments and asserted that he predicted the coronavirus pandemic.

Princess Martha Louise, fourth in line to the throne, sent shock waves through the nation of 5 million when she announced last year that she would give up most of her royal duties to focus on her own alternative medicine work with Verrett. The pair are now set to wed in August 2024 in the Scandinavian nation.

In an Instagram post they shared Wednesday, the princess and her American beau appeared in a photograph wearing matching soft pink and white tones, with her arm draped over his shoulder. “I love you, darling. So happy to walk the path of life with you,” the princess wrote in a comment. “Love you, darling. You are my everything,” Verrett posted back on her page.

Martha is the eldest child of Norway’s King Harald V and his only daughter. The throne will be inherited by her younger brother, Crown Prince Haakon. A constitutional amendment in 1990 now makes it possible for the eldest child to inherit the throne in Norway, regardless of gender.

Martha, 51, and Verrett, 48, caused a stir when they announced their engagement in June last year. Some of his more dubious claims have received intense scrutiny in Norway. He has suggested that cancer can strike unhappy people and claimed to have foreseen a global “blackout” in early 2020, relating to the coronavirus pandemic. He has also reportedly said that having too many sexual partners leaves women with “imprints” that must be cleaned out.

On his official website, Verrett describes himself as a “6th generation shaman,” a “visionary” and a best-selling author. The Californian also runs an online “Shaman School” and “Wokeshops” that allow participants to “tap into their personal power, while unblocking negative patterns that prevent them from reaching their optimal human performance.” His website claims that his teachings “have impacted thousands” and names public figures such as actors Nina Dobrev and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Following their engagement, the palace said in a statement she would be giving up most royal duties. “The Princess is taking this step to create a clearer dividing line between her business activities and her role as a member of the royal family,” it said.

Although her father, the king, allowed the princess to keep her title, the statement added that when the pair marry, “in accordance with tradition [Verrett] will not have a title or represent the Royal House of Norway.” Still, he will “become a part of the royal family,” as others have done, the statement added.

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This week, a brief statement from the palace congratulated the pair.

“The Queen and I are delighted that Princess Märtha Louise and Durek Verrett have announced their wedding plans,” Harald said in the statement. “We are happy to include Durek Verrett in our family and look forward to celebrating the big day with them. We wish Märtha and Durek all the best.”

The decision follows other stories elsewhere of modern love rocking centuries-old royal traditions. Notably, Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, opted to “step back” from royal duties in 2020 before relocating to the United States.

In Japan, too, Princess Mako fell in love with Kei Komuro, a commoner, and faced intense public pressure to give up her imperial title to marry her college sweetheart.

The Norwegian palace has condemned what it said were “racist attitudes” toward Verrett, who is Black, adding that they “consider it a strength that the Royal House reflects Norway’s ethnic diversity.”

The princess said this week their wedding would take place at the Union Hotel in Geiranger on Aug. 31, 2024.

She described the area in western Norway as having “spectacular fjords and dramatic mountains” and being a site that “represents Norway’s rich culture and natural beauty.” Most royals have traditionally married in Oslo Cathedral.

“Märtha and I are extremely happy to celebrate our love in Geiranger’s beautiful surroundings … in a place so rich in Norwegian history,” Verrett wrote online. “Geiranger is the perfect place to embrace our love.”

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Martha was previously married to author Ari Behn, with whom she had three daughters. They divorced in 2017, and he died in 2019.

When announcing her engagement to Verrett, she said he “makes my heart skip” and that he “sees me and acknowledges me from my highest potential.”

Sammy Westfall contributed to this report.

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