Crown Prince Haakon

The next king of Norway

haakon

Photo: Julia Marie Naglestad / Det kongelige hoff.
In recent years, Crown Prince Haakon has assumed more official royal duties and has shown himself to be exceptionally well-suited to serve as Norway’s future king.

DANIEL ALBERT
Trondheim, Noway

He is the great-grandson of Norway’s first king in the modern era, and first in line for the throne. Haakon Magnus has so far navigated his duties well and proved quite apt at avoiding scandal.

Second born and first in line

Haakon Magnus was born on July 20, 1973, a little less than two years after his elder sister, Märtha Louise. He has been first in line for the throne ever since.

At the time of his birth, Norway followed the agnatic primogeniture rules of succession. That’s just a complicated way of saying that girls only get to sit on the throne if they don’t have a brother.

The rules were changed in 1990, but it was decided that they would only apply to future heirs, so as not to jumble up the existing order of succession.

This explains why Princess Ingrid Alexandra, Crown Prince Haakon’s daughter, is third in line for the throne.

Monarchs from the two neighboring Scandinavian countries were chosen as godparents for Haakon Magnus’ christening in September of 1973. These were King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

 

Crown Prince Haakon’s education

It was important for King Harald and Queen Sonja that their children would get as normal an upbringing as possible. As such, the children attended public kindergartens and schools.

Haakon Magnus had not even finished high school in 1991 when his grandfather died, and his father ascended to the throne. At just 17, he was first in the line of succession.

He completed high school the following year and decided to join the military. Unlike his father, who served in the army, Haakon Magnus opted for a career in the navy. Like his great-grandfather before him, he became a naval officer.

In 1996, he left the country for the United States, where he would study political science at the University of California at Berkeley. He obtained that degree in 1999.

He would later get a master’s degree in development studies from the London School of Economics.

 

Crown Prince Haakon’s official duties

The Crown Prince and his wife carry out a number of official duties every year, both in Norway and abroad. Haakon acted as a regent for the very first time at 18, during one of his father’s foreign visits.

In 1999, he visited a number of Norwegian-American communities. He was named Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program in 2003.

He is the patron of many cultural events in Norway and has a special interest in the state of the oceans and the issue of climate change.

Every year the crown prince travels abroad, accompanied by Norwegian delegations, strengthening bilateral relations within trade and industry, science, and culture.

 

Marriage to Mette-Marit

The only real controversy Crown Prince Haakon has had to deal with to date was his engagement to Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby in December 2000.

The pair met at some point in the 1990s at the Quart Festival in her hometown of Kristiansand. At the time, this was Norway’s biggest music festival.

Years later, in 1999, they would meet again at the same festival. By then, Mette-Marit was a single mother.

 

A controversial past

haakon mette marit

Photo Jørgen Gomnæs / Det kongelige hoff
Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit were married on Aug. 25, 2001.

The Norwegian establishment was horrified when the crown prince’s relationship with Mette-Marit was made public. The general public’s reaction was quite negative as well.

To the public and the media, Mette-Marit was a commoner with no education and questionable connections. On top of that, she was the single mother of a toddler whose father was a convicted felon.

By her own admission, she had a strong rebellious phase. Her involvement in Oslo’s rave scene, where drugs were readily available, was only one of the problems highlighted by the press.

With all that baggage, one could assume that King Harald would have been inclined to refuse when Haakon asked him for permission to propose to her. But King Harald’s own history might have played a role here.

Harald had to wait almost 10 years before his father allowed him to marry Sonja. Her past was not controversial, but she was also a commoner. That meant that she was off-limits since royals at the time were expected to marry other royals – or at least someone from the nobility.

With King Harald’s blessing, the engagement went ahead, with the couple’s first official appearance after the engagement being at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony on Dec. 10, 2000.

But the press was relentless. Details about Mette-Marit’s controversial past kept trickling in, and tabloid readers could not get enough.

Embarrassing pictures had reportedly been obtained, and the topic of Mette-Marit’s past seemed to promise never to go away. But then, the royal family deflated the controversy with a masterstroke of public relations.

A crucial press conference

Just a week before the wedding, Mette-Marit held a press conference, apologizing for aspects of her past. “My youth rebellion was much stronger than many others. That resulted in me living quite a wild life,” she said.

She explicitly condemned drugs – falling short of admitting that she had used them. She then expressed a wish that she could get a chance to start over and make better choices and told the press that she did not wish to speak more of her past.

The strategy worked. Having Mette-Marit speak so openly about her past deflated the ballooning controversy. Public perception changed almost overnight, as people began to see Mette-Marit as a normal person who had made bad decisions and was trying to become better.

The couple married on Aug. 25, 2001, at Oslo Cathedral.

They have two children together: Princess Ingrid Alexandra (born Jan. 21, 2004) and Prince Sverre Magnus (born Dec. 3, 2005). Haakon is also the stepfather to Mette-Marit’s son, Marius Borg Høiby.

 

Mette-Marit and Jeffrey Epstein

In 2019, Mette-Marit attracted controversy again when it was revealed that she had met with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein several times between 2011 and 2013. A that time, Epstein had already been convicted and served jail time on charges of sex trafficking of minors.

Crown Prince Haakon also met with Epstein during one of those occasions, when the couple was on holiday at Saint Barthélemy, in the Caribbean

The revelations came to light in the context of the scandal involving British Prince Andrew, Duke of York, who got a lot of negative attention because of his close ties to Epstein.

In a statement, Mette-Marit spoke of her regret in failing to investigate Epstein’s past. A royal household communications manager stated that the crown princess had ceased contact with Epstein as he was attempting to use his connection to her to influence other people.

 

This article first appeared on the Life in Norway blog and was reprinted with permission. Visit lifeinnorway.net.

 

This article originally appeared in the April 15, 2022, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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