Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Crown Princess Mette-Marit's health issues explained: from rare lung disease to enforced sick leave

The ill health of Norway's next-in-line is creating a crisis for the royal family

Crown Princess Mette-Marit's health issues explained: from rare lung disease to enforced sick leave
Millie Jackson
Freelance Writer
March 27, 2024
Share this:

In October 2018, Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, a condition which has forced her to take a step back from royal life.  

The crown princess married into the royal family in 2001, and quickly won the hearts of the nation with her commitment to Norway. She has two children with Crown Prince Haakon, Princess Ingrid and Prince Sverre, and a son, Marius Borg Høiby, from a previous relationship.  

WATCH: Inside the royal love story of Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit

What is the Crown Princess's condition?  

Pulmonary fibrosis is a rare lung disease that causes scarring and thickening of lung tissue, which makes it harder for oxygen to get into the bloodstream, causing breathing difficulties.    

Prior to her diagnosis, the crown princess admitted to having "health challenges on a regular basis". She was forced to cancel an engagement the previous year due to vertigo, telling a Norwegian radio station: "I turned my head quickly, and it was like the whole world began to move. I began to sweat and felt nauseous – I thought I'd started early menopause."

The disease is incurable and progressively worsens over time, but the crown princess's doctor, Professor Kristian Bjøro at the National Hospital, has been monitoring the progression of the disease over the years and says: "The development of the disease over this period has been slow." He is also confident that collaboration with medical teams abroad and the crown princess's participation in treatment trials will help with the disease.    

What Mette-Marit has said about the diagnosis  

At the time, Mette-Marit said: "Although such a diagnosis will at times put limitations on my life, I am glad that the disease was discovered so early. My goal is still to work and participate in official programs as much as possible."

The Crown Princess appeared at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony last year© Getty
The Crown Princess appeared at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony last year

Since then, she has admitted the toll the condition takes on her: "I am exhausted faster than before, so today I have to take more care of myself than I did before." The mother-of-three has also said she finds it difficult to talk about her diagnosis.  

The royal family months before Mette-Marit's official diagnosis in 2018© Getty
The royal family months before Mette-Marit's official diagnosis in 2018

How the Crown Princess is managing the disease  

Mette-Marit takes medication to manage the symptoms of the disease. The Norwegian Royal Court also revealed that she is being continually monitored by medical professionals.   

For Mette-Marit, listening to her body and acknowledging its needs has helped: "I am now allowed to decide my everyday life in a completely different way, and it feels very good for me. Being able to let my days be guided by how I feel is one of the things I find good about being sick."  

The pace of her life has now dramatically changed from royal life: "I can take a walk, spend time reading and live much slower." 

What about her royal duties?  

In September 2023, Crown Princess Mette-Marit was forced to postpone royal engagements for a period of sick leave. This follows a similar pattern since diagnosis, where the royal has been notably absent from many royal events while she manages the disease.   

View post on Instagram

The crown princess was notably absent from the traditional family portrait this Christmas.

The impact on Norway's royal family  

Prior to Mette-Marit's diagnosis in 2018, the crown prince and princess were preparing to take on further responsibilities from her father-in-law King Harald V. He is the oldest ruling monarch in Europe aged 86 and likely holding out on passing more royal responsibilities to the couple due to his daughter-in-law's ill health.  

King Harald has said he will not abdicate and his role is "for life"© Getty
King Harald has said he will not abdicate and his role is "for life"

Mette-Marit's support for Princess Kate  

The relationship between the British and Norwegian royal families is a strong one, and Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit were guests at the coronation of King Charles III.  

LISTEN: We discuss intrusion into Kate's medical records and bizarre conspiracy theories

When Princess Kate posted a raw and emotional video explaining her cancer diagnosis in March 2024, Mette-Marit showed her support by liking the post, the prtincesses united by their struggle against poor health.


Princess Kate wearing black and white polka dots and a hat

If you are reading this, the chances are you are obsessed with all things royalty – which is just as well because so are we! So obsessed, in fact, we’ve launched a club solely dedicated to covering them. So welcome to The HELLO! Royal Club. We would love you to join us there…

What is it?

Interactive community offering behind-the-scenes access, exclusive royal interviews, unmissable royal insights, and an illustrious royal Inner Circle.

Member benefits

  • Two weekly newsletters, one from Emily Nash
  • Video posts and audio notes from Emily Nash and the HELLO! Royal team
  • Access to our royal community and opportunity to interact with club writers and members
  • Participate in polls, comments and discussion threads
  • Royal-themed puzzles with a weekly prize to be won
  • Access to our Ask Me Anything sessions with our journalists
  • Invitations to in-person and virtual events
  • A subscription to the digital edition of HELLO! Magazine (Worth £82 annually)*
  • Future ‘Inner Circle’ benefits

By royal decree

You are royally invited to join The HELLO! Royal Club – and then to go forth and spread the word to your fellow royal fans. See you in the club!

Sign up to HELLO Daily! for the best royal, celebrity and lifestyle coverage

By entering your details, you are agreeing to HELLO! Magazine User Data Protection Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, please click here.

More Royalty

See more