The Norwegian Princess who abandoned her royal duty for love

How Martha Louise overcame the loss of her first husband Ari Behn to fall for a Shaman whose controversial views include the claim children get cancer because they’re unhappy

  • How Martha Louise overcame the loss of her first husband to fall for a SHAMAN
  • Read More: Martha Louise of Norway reveals the date they will tie the knot 

Princess Martha Louise of Norway is set to tie the knot to her American businessman partner in her home country next August.

The royal, 51, who describes herself as ‘spiritual’ and claims to be a clairvoyant, will wed Durek Verrett, who calls himself a ‘shaman’ at the Union Hotel in Geiranger on August 31, the couple announced on Instagram yesterday. 

The announcement comes after several years of difficulty for the Norwegian royals which culminated in Princess Martha’s decision to step down as a working member of the family – which she revealed has been filled with ‘turmoil’ (in a move labelled ‘Norway’s Megxit’).

Eyebrows were raised when the Princess first began dating Verrett, who holds some controversial and pseudoscientific views, including that cancer in children can be caused by ‘being unhappy’.

In an interview with the BBC earlier this year, she praised her parents, King Harald an Queen Sonja, for keeping the dialogue open while she made her decision and they worked out the details about how the arrangements would work.

Princess Martha Louise of Norway is set to tie the knot to her American businessman partner Durek Verrett (left) in her home country next August

The princess was previously married to Ari Behn, who she wed in 2002 and had three children together Maud Angelica, 19, Leah Isadora, 17, and Emma Tallulah, 14. 

Ari had battled to marry Princess Martha after the pair faced heavy criticism because Mr Behn, a self-styled Bohemian author and artist, was not a traditional partner for a royal. 

They married in a lavish ceremony at the historic Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim in 2002 but chose to flee to London ten years later following sustained scrutiny of their married life. 

They began divorce proceedings in 2016 because, as Princess Martha said, they had ‘grown apart from one another’ and ‘no longer meet like we did before’.

‘We have tried everything over a long period of time, and when we still can’t meet where we did before, it’s impossible for us to continue,’ she said reports Norway’s News in English.

In an interview with the BBC this year Martha spoke about her first husband and the ‘cristicism’ he faced. 

She said: ‘His mental health depended a lot on him getting criticism in the media.

‘But I am not saying it was anyone’s fault. It is always how you handle criticism. The press took self-criticism after he died, that they were perhaps a little harsh towards him, and that he only received criticism and was actually a very nice person.’

After the divorce Mr Behn wrote a book Inferno, which critics described as ‘oozing with despair and sadness’ and describes his struggles with mental health, headaches, hallucinations and difficulty breathing.

The author, whose last book Inferno was described as ‘oozing with despair and sadness’, also said he feared he would not be around to raise his three daughters. He is pictured at their wedding in historic Trondheim cathedral in May 2002

Queen Sonja, King Harald and Princess Martha Louise attend the unveiling of Norwegian Trekking Association gift for The Queen of Norway 80th birthday in 2017

Promoting the literary work, he told Norwegian newspaper VG: ‘I am yesterday’s news, even though the world has not yet been told.

‘I’m a clown, at worst. At best, I am a publicist and a public actor. For many I’m a fool.’

His words came nine years after a candid interview with Massiv magazine, where he predicted he would die alone and become ‘more and more lonely’.

‘I’m going to die without the company of anyone, but without being lonely and bitter,’ he said. ‘It’s like I’m never really able to connect with anyone.’

Detailing his struggles, the former royal also revealed his ‘bad habit’ of drinking from 1.30pm and said it made him worry about his ability to be a good father.

The artist also caused controversy when he alleged Kevin Spacey had touched his balls under the table at a Nobel Peace Prize banquet in Oslo, held in 2007, during a radio interview held ten years later.

‘We had a nice conversation, he was sat next to me,’ he told radio station P4. ‘After five minutes, he says ‘Hey, let’s go out and have a cigarette’ – and then he touched me right on the balls under the table.’

He stopped the advances by saying ‘eh, maybe later’, he claimed.

Mr Behn and Princess Martha faced heavy criticism after marrying as he wasn’t seen as a traditional partner for a royal. He is pictured with her on their wedding day at Trondheim cathedral in May 2002

In a heartbreaking interview years earlier, Mr Behn had also predicted he would ‘die alone’ and gradually get more and more lonely (He is pictured with Princess Martha in Sweden in 2015, a year before the pair began divorce proceedings)

The princess was previously married to Ari Behn, who she wed in 2002 . They split in 2016, and Ari took his own life on Christmas Day in 2019

Martha Louise and her ex husband Ari had three children together Maud Angelica, 19, Leah Isadora, 17, and Emma Tallulah, 14 (pictured attending the funeral service of Ari Behn)

After the split was finalised in 2017, Princess Martha later began having appointments with Gwyneth Paltrow’s shaman Durek Verrett.

With a huge celebrity following, the belief he can talk to the spiritual world and very colourful history, Shaman Durek is hardly your typical royal groom.

But the couple’s shared interest in all things spiritual suggests the couple are well-suited, and indeed, and he has previously said of the royals ‘over years we’ve built such a lovely relationship. I love them’.

Born Durek Verrett in Sacramento in November 1974, the groom-to-be claims he first became ‘aware’ of his shamanic abilities when he was five but that he didn’t start training until age 11.

In May 2019 they announced their relationship, although the pair were seeing each other from as early as February, claims W Magazine, citing an Instagram post from the shaman which said his mother predicted he would one day be made happy by a Norwegian princess. 

When asked about her decision in comparison with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who also stepped down as senior royals, she spoke about her ‘amazing’ family, including King Harald and Queen Sonja, and how the dialogue between them has always remained open.

‘What I think has been amazing through this whole cycle has been the conversations we have had through it all,’ she said.

‘From a very young age I remember my mum and dad saying (the King and Queen saying) that we always have to stick together. We always have to talk things through even if it’s hard, we have to put all the cards on the table because we are family and we have to work things through.’

The Norwegian royal also discussed how her fiancé’s controversial ‘views’ had contributed to how the public viewed her position in the royal family.

She said: ‘The Norwegian people I guess… have decided it’s best for me to step down because of his views about things.’

Durek, who describes himself as a ‘Shaman’, was dropped by his publisher shortly after the couple announced their engagement in June 2022 over pseudoscientific claims he made in his book ‘Spirit Hacking’.

Among the claims were that children ‘can get cancer from being unhappy’.

Durek has also claimed he once came back from the dead, recovering from a month-long coma, by letting his soul ‘burn’ and he has also spoken of having to undergo a kidney transplant from his sister as a child.

It is unclear why he needed the kidney or how he became wheelchair bound, as he has described. The illness which sent him into a coma is also undisclosed.

Princess Martha Louise and her fiancé, American businessman Durek Verrett, will marry next August in her home country, they have announced

The couple (pictured in June 2022) have had a tumultuous few years after the princess, who claims to be a clairvoyant, stepped down from royal duties over Verrett’s pseudoscientific views

The shaman is Ms Paltrow’s spiritual mentor and a close friend (They are pictured together)

The shaman said that when he introduced her to Ms Paltrow they were ‘like sisters’. The pair are pictured together dancing in a field this year. The pair are pictured together in a gushing Instagram post taken at Hamptons, near New York

Elsewhere in the interview, Martha Louise claimed she first began to experience psychic premonitions as a child.

She said: ‘When I was little I would see things in you. If you were sad or if you were happy… if you had a pain in your shoulder I would get a pain in my shoulder.

‘And I understood that that’s a talent and, you know, I could help other people. And that’s when the whole ball started rolling.’

In June 2022, the newly-engaged couple appeared in a video together on Durek’s Instagram account where the American spiritual guide – whose celebrity clients have included Gwyneth Paltrow, Nina Dobrev and James Van Der Beek – hit back at online trolling they’ve faced.

He said: ‘One, they don’t want to see a black man in the Royal Family because there’s never been one in the history of the European royal family.

‘Second, she’s a female – it’s different when a royal prince chooses a woman of colour because it’s like, “oh he’s a man, he can choose whoever he wants”.

‘But for a princess to choose a man of colour, has never been done in history. So it’s really though for a lot of people to be able to handle that.’

The Princess said she decided she wanted to ‘earn my own money’ which she could only do by giving up her ‘money from the state’ and paying taxes for the first time in her life.

After giving up her position in the royal family, the Princess revealed she has had to deal with ‘lots of scrutiny’ – particularly when she takes on new roles.

‘Everything you do that’s a first, that goes out of the box that you’re put in,’ she said, adding that press scrutiny has ‘continued’.

She added that, in Norway, spiritual beliefs like the ones she holds are ‘taboo’.

Her comments echoed an interview she gave on Swedish TV in March, in which she claimed she had ‘received the most criticism of anyone in Norway’ for her beliefs.

As she sat down with Anna Hedenmo on Min Sanning – which translates to My Truth – the royal said she felt she needed to step back because of public image.

She said: ‘I am probably the one in Norway who has received the most criticism of all, I think.’

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