Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Märtha-Louise of Norway: "Critics don't affect me, I do not seek to be liked".

© Alex Bramall
“Oh, Elena!” exclaims Märtha-Louise of Norway when she sees a portrait of the Infanta at the estate that will hold the photo session, near Aranjuez. The Princess, expert rider, knows the owner, who she has competed against in various occasions. “I will compete again in October”. Besides, two of her best Friends have a place near Málaga where she goes frequently. Casually, days after our encounter, her ex-husband, writer Ari Behn, will visit Jerez de la Frontera. Märtha-Louise of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg (Oslo, 1971) is one lover of Spain that will enjoy the Madrid night as soon as the day ends. She has chosen a hotel at the center to stay in and asks for the hottest places to have dinner and a drink, even though the next day she will fly first hour in the morning to Frankfurt for the funeral of Prince Richard zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, husband of Princess Benedikte of Denmark and brother-in-law to Queen Margrethe.

The firstborn of King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway and sister to the heir to the throne, Prince Haakon Magnus, is a very peculiar woman.
She studied physiotherapy. In 2002 she married Behn, a provocative novel writer —his most famous work is the Trist som faen collection (Sad as hell) published in 1999— that has also tried his luck on cinema, television, and painting. They have three daughters: Maud Angelica (14), Leah Isadora (12) and Emma Tallulah (8). They’re not Princesses.

During their 14 years of marriage, Behn alternated explosive declarations, like admitting that they had an open relationship or that he was a “bad husband” that drank daily, with appearances wearing a drag queen or homeless costume beside a poster saying “I’m a poor Norwegian writer/artist. Please, help me”. On December 2015, the press published a photo of Behn kissing the boobs of one well-known blogger.
Eight months later the royal house announced the separation. On the press release, Princess Märtha-Louise admitted that they had tried everything. On a recent tv appearance, Behn apologized for his behavior. “I have to apologize for something, and it’s that I’ve always talked too much, I’ve never know when to shut up and that has affected my family life”.

—Your ex-husband has publicly apologized.
—I didn’t see the program

© Alex Bramall
—How do you see his extravagances? A special man, a free spirit… 
—I’m a free spirit too — she replies between laughter.

—How is your relationship? 
—I have never talked about it. You can write that I’m okay and our relationship is a good one—she replies sharply.

The singularities of this Athletic and freckled woman, that transmits warmth but also steadiness, don’t en don her failed marriage with a mister that back in 2009 described himself as pathologically defiant, rebel and childish. “I create problems and involve people on compromising situations and stupid fights. It’s really difficult to live with me”, he recognized. Märtha-Louise is hypersensitive. Her 5th book about the topic, Born Sensitive, is a best seller in her country. A “hereditary talent” that has been written a lot about on the new age literature, and that she shares with the 15% or 20% of the population. “At the beginning, I thought that it affected everyone. If you enter a room and someone has a back pain, you have a back pain too. I wasn’t capable of detecting if the pain was mine or not —she tells—. It’s like constantly having an app downloading, with the correspondent energy waste. It’s draining. When the phone’s battery is dead you charge it; but, what do you do with your body?”.

This trait marked her childhood. “I was too tough, a little tomboy. I loved to climb trees, to ski, to ride my bicycle really fast and enjoy nature. But on the other side, I was too sensible. When I spent the weekend in the typical cabin in the woods with my friends, something really usual in Norway, all of the sudden I needed to go into the woods alone and sit under a tree to cry. I thought I was a weird bug… I was over stimulated”

© Alex Bramall
Hypersensibility also affects the senses. The Princess remembers one anecdote. “My mother is very athletic. She has climbed almost every hill in Norway. She runs. I’m not capable of keeping her pace yet and she just turned 80. When she practiced activities out in nature she didn’t wear any makeup and smelled like her, like mother. But every time she went to a gala dinner, she put on Chanel N°5. She went to say goodbye and I could smell her perfume from 20m. Since then, I hate fragrances. It sickened me. I thought I would lose her.”

Her status aggravated the situation. “Official obligations were a challenge. I remember going to a church and everyone turned their heads to see me. I felt judged and persecuted; I was unable to look them at the face. While I was walking down the aisle, I thought ‘My God, I have survived!’”. With everything, she doesn’t doubt to califícate her childhood and youth as happy ones. “Norway is a very free and equal country, there is no aristocracy. I grew in contact with people. I went to a public school. I was raised like any other child. Of course, I was always aware of my role and that my family environment was different.”

—When was it?
—You don’t wake up one morning and realize you’re a Princess. You are just born into that family and for you is natural.

Precisely to explain on what her role consists of, she published in 2005 a children’s book “Why Kings and Queens Don’t Wear Crowns. “Every time I want to an engagement, the parents pushed their children towards me while they wondered ‘Where is the Princess? And the Crown?’. That’s why I wrote it”.

© Alex Bramall
—In Spain, we have a children’s competition that, actually, is called ‘¿Qué es un rey para ti?’ (What’s a King for you?) What do you think?
—Monarchy encourages stability and keeps the nation united. It guides the people through good, and especially, bad times. Politicians come and go.

In 2002 she renounced to the Royal Highness treatment so she could work.
“Now they just simply call me Highness, which is an enormous difference”, she said between laughter to ABC newspaper. Since then, she pays taxes as any other citizen. And she works where she likes. Five years later, she made public her hyper sensible condition and announced that she was going to concéntrate her efforts to help people with her same ability. 
She founded Astarté with her partner, Elisabeth Nordeng, and in 2014 she renamed it as Soulspring. A spiritual consulting that gives online courses. The decision was harshly criticized by the media in her country. Also by the Norwegian church, which her father is head of. Her most particular confession caused a big polemic. “My first contact with angels was when I was with my horses. I later understood the value of this enormous gift and wanted to share it with everyone.”, she published on her web.

—Horses and angels. You feel their presence and talk with them.
—There are energies around us. When you’re hypersensitive, you can contact them. It happens to many people.

— It’s more of a spiritual figure than a religious one. 
—It's not incompatible. I’m a Christian, Protestant, and I believe that my faith is even more profound thanks to this talent.

© Alex Bramall
She admits that her job is her biggest extravagance. And insists that she doesn’t care for the critics. “They don’t affect me. I was used to them saying that I wasn’t wearing the appropriate shoes or that I had done something wrong. I don’t do this for people to like me, but to help those who are interested. I don’t care what people think”. Today, she has 500  students on her eight courses. “There are all kinds of people: lawyers, doctors, businessmen or housewives”. Her public is mostly feminine. The Princess also has healing abilities, “but not focused only on physical pain, but to general well-being, to having a break in our lives. For me, that’s also healing”.

—You chose an atypical path. 
—The job chose me. My partner and I started the Project a Thursday and that Monday we already had students. Soulspring grew too fast. Even before it was on the press we gave the first classes. We believed what we were doing. And everything exploded. I don’t regret it, even though it was hard. 

The Princess doesn’t regret anything in general. And everything thanks to her grandmother, Dagny Ulrichsen. “When I was 10, I asked her if she regretted something. ‘Of the things I haven’t done’, she replied. I decided to follow her example”. She doesn’t consider herself as a rebel. “I have tried to keep true to myself. Everyone has that right. I’m conscious that I’ve adopted decisions that other Princesses would never take. But there are also many like me; for example, Princess Irene of the Netherlands, sister to Princess Beatrix. I’m not alone!”. She has the support of her family, whom she is very united. “They always encouraged me to be myself. I suppose that at this time, my father regrets to insist so much”, she says between laughter. She laughs frequently. But when she hears a question that she considers inopportune, her blue look turns glacial. She can be as close as inflexible.

© Alex Bramall
King Harald decides his official agenda, fundamentally focused on the disabled. Her parents just celebrated in Oslo their 80th birthday, 26 of them on the throne. They will be succeeded by Prince Haakon Magnus and his wife, Princess Mette-Marit, whom Märtha-Louise shares an “excellent” relationship. She has applied on her her healing abilities. Even though Mette-Marit is from a non-royal background, she has never needed advice from Märtha-Louise. She is estranged from the question.
She just traveled to India and Mexico. She’s on a good moment, having moved on from the difficulties of the past. “Yes, I have suffered from them, as everyone would do —she says briefly—. I’m very happy. There are things that I have yet to learn, but I know who I really am”.

—On what things do you consider yourself conservative?
—In nothing. Maybe on protecting my family. Most importantly my daughters and their exposition to the media.

—There are barely any photos of them on the media… 
—I try to protect them on stages so vulnerable like childhood and adolescence. It’s hard that the press doesn’t respect their privacy. Everyone has the right to decide if they want to be on the media or not. My daughters too. 

Interview originally published by Vanity Fair España.



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