Norway's Crown Prince Marries Commoner

A single mother and former waitress became Norway's future queen Saturday, marrying Crown Prince Haakon in a fairy-tale wedding that drew thousands of flag-waving well-wishers into Oslo's streets.

Haakon and Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby, both 28, exchanged vows at Oslo Cathedral before hundreds of friends and relatives, including many European royals.

Hoiby's 4-year-old son, Marius, served as a page and Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden read a poem during the nuptials.

After the hour-long Lutheran ceremony, Haakon dressed in a military uniform adorned with a wide red sash kissed his bride as they happily left the cathedral to the crowd's cheers.

Nearly a quarter of Oslo's population is estimated to have turned out for the wedding celebrations.

The event had a Cinderella quality: Hoiby, a one-time waitress from the southern town of Kristiansand, will become queen when Haakon ascends to Norway's throne.

Norwegians have been warming to the idea of Hoiby as their future queen after months of speculation about her past. Hoiby has admitted to moving in circles where narcotics were common; Marius' father was convicted of drug possession.

Harald held out for nine years before winning permission from his own father, King Olav V, to marry Sonja Haraldsen, now Queen Sonja. Norway's modern monarchy is relatively new, created upon independence from Sweden in 1905, and Olav wanted his son to marry a princess to help establish the royal house.

Haakon said his family never forced him to choose between the throne or marrying the woman he first met in 1996 and fell in love with in 1999 after running into her at an outdoor rock concert in 1999. They later moved in together.

Returning to the royal palace Saturday evening, the couple waved from the balcony, with Hoiby holding Marius in one arm. A royal kiss drew roars of "One more time!"

Overhead, four screaming Norwegian Air Force fighters passed low and in formation over the palace.

Afterward, wedding guests settled in at Akerhus fortress for a banquet fit for a future king and queen.

Among the European royals attending are the British princes Charles and Edward, Spanish Crown Prince Felipe and the monarchs of Sweden, Denmark, Belgium and Luxembourg.

A public banquet for 1,000 at City Hall as well as fireworks and street parties also were planned. Honeymoon plans have been kept secret.

People's Daily Online ---