Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and her partner of several years, Shaman Durek Verrettshared the story behind their romantic proposal that left them both in a stream of tears.
The royal told People she was “shocked” when Verrett, whom she has been dating since 2019, suddenly got down on one knee during an intimate gathering at a horse racing park in San Juan Capistrano, California. The spiritual healer explained, “I was very nervous because a lot of emotions were going through me – fears and stress and I wanted it to be perfect for my loved one.” Verrett added that while he is overjoyed to be married to the love of his life, he also understands the weight of being the first modern black man to marry into a European royal family. †[It] will set a precedent for my people that we must not forget, and we deserve to be recognized for the greatness of who we are and where we come from,” he said. “There have always been kings and queens in Africa, but unfortunately they have not been recognized in the world in the way they deserve.”
As for the princess, who is the daughter of Norway King Harald V and Queen Sonja and fourth in line to the throne, she said that when it came to the proposal: “I was shocked, and this huge wave of emotions went through me, making me tremble. It was so touching and wonderful that the man whose I love more than anything in this world sat down on one knee and asked for my hand in marriage.” She added: “He asked me under this huge tree with horses around us, and that was very special to me. My connections with nature and horses are deep in my heart. I was impressed with how special and sacred he made that moment for the two of us. I couldn’t stop crying.”
Märtha Louise also pointed out that her relationship with the shaman has given her the “revelatory” experience of seeing firsthand how racism still plays out in society. “I have learned a lot about black heritage and will continue to learn,” she said. “I have a patient husband who teaches me about the problems in black culture, how it refers to white privilege, and how we as a couple should navigate through people’s fears and prejudices to show that love knows no boundaries. I am blessed to have a relationship that can help me grow and evolve, and it’s humbling to learn the lessons with Durek every day.”
When choosing a ring, Verrett collaborated with jewelry designer Joy Sangalang Smith to create a custom emerald and diamond ring that would tell the story of their love. He explained: “I did historical research on all royal engagement rings, then I went to observe other rings in stores to give me some ideas for the cut and design. Then I met Joy to sketch ideas through stories I wanted to tell about the ring. One is about protecting her and her heart and honoring our ancestral Viking roots. I arranged for her daughters to be included in it, as well as Queen Sonja, to celebrate my love for her and to honor that I beautiful woman in my life, it was important to me to keep the heritage tradition strong.” The healer added that as soon as he got the last engagement ring, he took it to show his “best friend” Gwyneth Paltrow “Because I knew she’s very picky about nice things, so I wanted her to be the first to see it. She said it was the most amazing ring she had ever seen and she loved how much thought and care I put into it and she knew Princess Märtha would love and cherish it – having a stamp of approval from a friend like hers made happy.”