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Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2001

Future princess admits wild past

August 23, 2001

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— The bride-to-be of Norway's crown prince admitted and regretted her wild past Wednesday, days before their wedding, hoping to clear the slate at the start of a long path to her someday becoming queen.

Ever since Crown Prince Haakon announced that he was dating Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby 15 months ago, the Norwegian news media have been abuzz about the future crown princess' past.

Hoiby, 28, the unwed mother of a 4-year-old boy, had frequented parties where drugs were used. Ahead of Saturday's royal wedding, she for the first time neared a public admission of using drugs herself.

"We violated the limits," she said Wednesday, appearing with the 28-year-old crown prince at a palace news conference. "That was a costly experience for me, that I took a long time to get over. My youth rebellion was much stronger than many others. That resulted in me living quite a wild life."

About half of Norway's first-born children are to single mothers, so Norwegians barely raised an eyebrow over Hoiby having a child. But the nation takes a dim view of drug abuse, and public support for the monarchy has been declining in opinion polls.

"I know this was very difficult for very many people, and I am sorry for that," the statuesque blonde said, fighting back tears. "But unfortunately I can't make those choices again."

Hoiby, a former university student and part-time waitress, said she now opposes illegal drug use and considers the subject of her past closed. The crown prince, sitting beside her on a couch, gave her a long look and said, "It's no wonder that I love her."

Whatever doubts this liberal Scandinavian nation of 4.5 million has about her past, the capital Oslo was readying for its first royal wedding since 1968, when crown prince Harald now King Harald V and the commoner Sonja Haraldsen, now queen, were wed.

Gifts, ranging from hand-knitted mittens to 531 compact discs for the music-loving couple, have streamed into the palace, even though the couple requested contributions be directed to their humanitarian fund.

The three-day wedding celebration will draw much of the royalty of Europe, including Britain's Crown Prince Charles and Prince Edward.

Under Norway's constitution, Hoiby's son, Marius, could never assume the throne.

Hoiby, who will become Crown Princess Mette-Marit, said she will miss her last name, but otherwise was getting used to her new public role.

"I have been going to princess school for the past nine months," she said.

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