26 AUGUST 2001
“Mette-Marit jeg eisker deg.”
I love you
You could have heard a pin drop as Haakon of Norway said these three words to the princess of his heart last night. In reply, Mette-Marit reached for her handkerchief and dabbed discreetly at her eyes. “I have never been so in love as I am with you,” continued her new husband.
The crown prince paid tribute to Mette-Marit, describing her as sensitive, enthusiastic, a perfectionist, brave, unfathomable, and having a big heart. She was also, he revealed in his next sentence, occasionally lacking in initiative, could be defensive or headstrong and was temperamental. “In other words you are a totally fantastic, complex person,” he concluded.
While his wife looked up at him, Haakon said that he was looking forward to life with Mette-Marit and Marius at his side. “I can’t promise it will be… easy, but it’s bound to be eventful and intense. I am proud to call myself your lifelong partner.”
The groom’s speech came hot on the heels of King Harald’s, which was just as touching. “I’ve read many times that you are an ordinary girl who today became Norway’s crown princess. That’s nothing like the impression I have formed after getting to know you. You are not an ordinary girl. You are exceptionally open and honest, you are exceptionally committed, you have an exceptional strength of will, you are exceptionally brave, you have today made an exceptional choice and you are exceptionally in love with Haakon!”
This was too much for Mette-Marit and her white hanky came out again. She had been seen wiping away tears during the Bishop of Oslo’s address during the afternoon ceremony – as had her new husband. Haakon’s father touched on this, saying that his daughter-in-law was clearly a very caring person, something that shone through in everything she did, not least in her role as mother to little Marius. “The Queen and I have become very fond of you, and have deep respect for what you stand for.”
It is a sentiment that has been echoed by the Norwegian people. When the engagement was first announced, the country was shocked that the heir to the throne was marrying a “wild child with a past” who had a four-year-old son from a previous relationship. But they could see the depth of feeling running between the two individuals throughout yesterday’s nuptial celebrations.
The sumptuous wedding banquet, which was held in the ballroom of the royal palace, was rounded off in spectacular style with the entrance of the seven-storey, 2.69-metre cake. It was the crowning glory of a feast that began with two starters: crab tempura with coconut and lime sauce, and scallops with Norwegian ham and truffles. The main courses were the local dish of Piggvar - fried fish served on a bed of cauliflower puree, with orange sauce and garnished with parsley – and lamb teamed with a selection of vegetables and thyme sauce. Dessert was sorbet with summer fruits and berries. The accompanying wine was a present from Queen Margrethe of Denmark and her husband Prince Henrik, who cultivate vines at their château in the French region of Cahors.
When the couple took to the dance floor for their first dance – a waltz, naturally – as man and wife, the assembled royals all gathered round the handsome prince and his fairytale princess. “They may not have been the most graceful couple to take to the floor – despite months of practising,” said a Norwegian newspaper. “but like the rest of their relationship and wedding, that wasn’t the point. They were together, in love with the rest of their lives to look forward to – that was all that mattered.”
An impressive firework display that illuminated the Royal Palace made a dazzling finale to Haakon and Mette-Marit’s special day and the couple came out on the balcony with several friends to watch the fizzing colours light up the night sky. It was the culmination of a dreamlike day – and not just for the couple, but for Norway too. “It looks like the monarchy has a long and secure future ahead of it,” were the feelings of just one of the many people who took to the streets to celebrate the marriage of the Crown Prince and the normal girl from Kristiansand who became his wife.