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Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and Shaman Durek on Their Engagement: ‘Love Can Break Down the Barriers’



Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and Shaman Durek Verrett are opening up about their historic engagement — and the proposal that left the royal in tears.

The Los Angeles-based spiritual guide and healer to the stars “shocked” Princess Märtha when he got down on one knee and popped the question during an intimate gathering in the countryside at a horse race estate in San Juan Capistrano, California.

“I was very nervous because I had a lot of emotions going through me — fears and stress and wanting it to be perfect for my beloved,” Durek, who has been dating the daughter of Norway’s King Harald V and Queen Sonja since 2019, tells PEOPLE.

Of becoming the first modern Black man to marry into a European royal family, Durek says: “[It] will set a precedent for my people that we are not to be forgotten, and we deserve to be acknowledged for the greatness of who we are and where we come from. There’s always been kings and queens in Africa, but unfortunately, they haven’t been recognized in the world in the way that they deserve.”

Princess Märtha Louise wears a couture Rivini gown designed by Rita Vinieris and Shaman Durek wears a black virgin wool-silk blend blazer and pant suit by Dolce & Gabbana.
Babak Golkar

For her part, Märtha — who is fourth in line to the Norwegian throne — says her relationship with Durek has also been “eye-opening” when it comes to their experiences with racism as an interracial couple.

“To me, it’s eye-opening to get to know Durek and see it first hand and see how it still plays out in society,” she says. “I’ve learned a lot about Black heritage and will continue to learn. I have a patient man who educates me on the issues in Black culture, how it refers to white privilege, and how we as a couple must navigate peoples’ fears and prejudices to demonstrate that love has no boundaries. I’m blessed to be in a relationship that can help me grow and evolve, and it’s humbling to learn the lessons with Durek every day.”

Of the proposal, she says, “I was shocked, and this massive wave of emotions went through me, making me tremble. It was so moving and wonderful that the man I love more than anything in this world was down on one knee and asking for my hand in marriage.”

Princess Märtha Louise and Shaman Durek.
Babak Golkar

“He asked me under this massive tree with horses surrounding us, and that was very special for me,” she adds. “My connections to nature and horses run deep in my heart. I was in awe of how special and sacred he made that moment for the two of us. I couldn’t stop crying.”

Durek, whose celebrity fans include Gwyneth Paltrow, Nina Dobrev and James Van Der Beek, collaborated with jewelry designer Joy Sangalang Smith of COMMUNION to create the princess’s emerald-and-diamond ring. Three diamonds on either side of the ring represent Princess Märtha’s three daughters from her first marriage, which ended in 2016. Emeralds are also a favorite gem of the princess’s mother, Queen Sonja.

“Having my three daughters represented in my engagement ring meant the world to me. It shows that I’ve chosen the right man — a man that understands how much my kids mean to me and that my children will always be included in our relationship. I love that about him,” she says.

Princess Märtha Louise’s engagement ring.
Babak Golkar

Adds Durek, who had help from friends Mikkel and Hege Eriksen in putting together the proposal: “I did historical research on all the royal engagement rings, and then I went and observed other rings at stores to give me some ideas for the cut and design. Then I would meet with Joy to start sketching ideas out through stories I wanted to tell about the ring. One of them being about protection and her heart and honoring our Viking ancestral roots. I made sure her daughters were included in it, as well as Queen Sonja, to celebrate my love for her and to honor bringing this beautiful woman into my life. It was important to me to keep the heritage tradition strong.”

“I envisioned the ring resembling exactly what a princess ring should look like, but not something that is entirely over the top but something that is well suited for Princess Märtha so that she would see the beauty reflected in herself; that’s the beauty reflected in the ring,” he continues.

Princess Märtha Louise and Shaman Durek.
Babak Golkar

Durek says he also got Paltrow’s opinion before he proposed to Märtha with the ring.

“When I first got it, I showed it to my dear friend Gwenyth Paltrow because I knew she’s very particular about nice things, so I wanted her to be the first to see it,” he says. “She said it was the most fantastic ring she’s seen and loved how much thought and care I put into it and knew that Princess Märtha would love and cherish it — having a stamp of approval from a friend such as her made me happy.”

Last year, Princess Märtha Louise said she was planning on moving from her home country of Norway to America with her three daughters. Of her move, she tells PEOPLE: “At this point, we are going to continue to do long distances for a little while. There are no solid plans to move together at this point, but it will come in the future. We will always live in both places in California and Norway.”

Shaman Durek Verrett and Princess Märtha Louise with Shaman Durek’s family.
Babak Golkar

Durek adds, “I’m excited about us living in the States and Norway and going back and forth with the family. I’m looking forward to spending more quality time with her family.”

As for their upcoming wedding, the couple says, “We have many ideas of what we want, but we want to take our time with this to make it very special for ourselves, our families, and our friends. We don’t have a date in mind at the moment, but we will share it once we have decided.”

Princess Märtha Louise and Shaman Durek.
Babak Golkar

Adds Durek: “I stand for my people and with my people to hold the lens of possibility that love can break down the barriers and limitations. The journey ahead for me — well, who’s to say? What I can say is that I’ve fallen in love with the most amazing woman who loves me for all aspects of my being, and I love her for all aspects of her being. Whatever is thrown in our direction and may come to confront us, together we will face it with power and strength and triumph against all odds. And lastly, for my people and all people of color to realize that there is no hierarchy regarding the power and strength of the human spirit.”

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