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The wedding of Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway and Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby took place on 25 August 2001 at Oslo Cathedral. It was the first royal wedding to take place in Norway since the marriage of then-Crown Prince Harald to Sonja Haraldsen in 1968. Because of the background of the bride, the wedding was frequently referred to in publications as "unconventional" and "uncommon," and Mette-Marit as a modern day Cinderella.
Courtship and engagement
Crown Prince Haakon met Mette-Marit Tjessem Høiby through mutual friends in 1999. Their relationship was not without controversy, as she was a former waitress with a four-year old son from a previous relationship with a man with a drug conviction. After rumors abounded that Mette-Marit had a "well-known past in Oslo's dance-and-drugs house-party scene," she also admitted to previous drug abuse and a history of heavy partying.
The couple's eight-month long engagement included a period of cohabitation in an Oslo apartment, which was disapproved of by the conservative Church of Norway. According to The New York Times, support for the monarchy as an institution hit a record low during this period, though 60 percent still considered themselves monarchists. Though surveys reported that most Norwegians did not mind the couple had lived together or that she was a single mother, the royal family did lose popularity as the details emerged about her drug past.
The prince's father Harald V of Norway was supportive of his son's decision, as he had spent nearly a decade trying to persuade his own father to allow him to marry commoner Sonja Haraldsen. There were rumors in the Norwegian press that various conservative sources were trying to pressure Haakon to consider giving up his claim to the throne, much like Edward VIII did with Wallis Simpson. Three days before the wedding, Haakon held a news conference in which he thanked his family and his country for not making their relationship a succession issue. A week before the wedding, Mette-Marit spoke out against drug use in a press conference. Though she did not admit to drug abuse, she stated "I would like to take this opportunity to say that I condemn drugs... I hope that I can now avoid talking more about my past, and that the press will respect this wish". An opinion poll afterwards indicated a swing in public support, with 40 percent stating they had a better opinion of her and 84 percent believing she was honest about her past.
Haakon and Mette-Marit married on 25 August 2001 in Oslo. The ceremony lasted one hour, and the bride wept throughout the entire ceremony. Mette-Marit wore a gown of white silk crepe with a 20-foot long veil  , while Haakon wore a black army uniform with a red sash and medals.
In a break of tradition, the groom waited outside the door of the church, as Mette-Marit wanted to walk down the aisle alongside Haakon instead of on her father's arm. Oslo Bishop Gunnar Stålsett told the couple "You have not chosen the easiest path, but love has triumphed," bringing tears to Mette-Marit's eyes.
Her son served as a page boy during the ceremony, while Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark served as Haakon's best man. Betina and Emilie Swanstrøm, Kamilla and Anniken Bjørnøy, and Tuva Høiby served as Mette-Marit's bridesmaids.
Upon their marriage, Mette-Marit became known as Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mette-Marit. After the ceremony, the couple appeared with Mette-Marit's son Marius on the balcony of the royal palace in the midst of cannons firing and bands playing.
Notable people in attendance
- The King of the Belgians
- The Queen of Denmark
- The Hereditary Prince of Monaco
- The Prince of Asturias
- The King of Sweden
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- Davies, Caroline (27 August 2001). "Cinderella bride's son captivates a nation". The Telegraph (telegraph.co.uk). Retrieved 14 January 2011.
- "Norwegian prince ties the knot". BBC News (BBC.com). 25 August 2001. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
- Porter, Darwin (2009). Frommer's Norway. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley Publishing, Inc. p. 144. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
- "Norway future queen admits wild past". BBC News (BBC.co.uk). 22 August 2001. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
- Williams, Carol J. (26 August 2001). "A Fiord Fairy Tale Comes True for Single Mom, Crown Prince". Los Angeles Times (LATimes.com). Retrieved 14 January 2011.
- "'Iconic royal wedding gowns". Harpers Bazaar.
- "The Royal Wedding". Official website of the Norwegian royal family. Retrieved 14 January 2011.