Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway has opened up about her diagnosis with chronic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable lung disease which has forced her to withdraw from some royal duties.
The 45-year-old, who’s married to the country’s heir apparent Crown Prince Haakon, made the revelation to German media this week, saying the condition has left her 'exhausted’.
“I am well aware of my state of health, but I do not want it to get so much attention from outside, which is one of the reasons why I like my ‘new little life’ so much,” she said of her decision to step away from the spotlight.
Princess’ health battle
Chronic pulmonary fibrosis is a degenerative condition that causes the lungs to be covered in scar tissue which results in a worsening shortness of breath as it progresses.
The average life expectancy of patients is three to five years after diagnosis.
However, the Crown Princess is said to already be on medication after an early detection which she knew about ‘for some time’ before going public.
“I can decide more about my everyday life and I realise how good it is to me. I can just go for a walk and have more time to read, life has slowed down,” she said about the disease’s effects.
The palace opens up
Princess Mette-Marit’s diagnosis first came to light last October when the Norwegian Royal Court released a statement detailing her history of ill health.
“The Crown Princess has undergone extensive investigations related to her health and an unusual variant of fibrosis has been detected in the lungs,” they said at the time.
“It is not yet clear whether the pulmonary disease is linked to a more extensive autoimmune disease process or if there are other causes that underlie the lung changes.”
The Crown Princess went on to detail how her approach to royal duties has changed since discovering her condition, which can have symptoms including fatigue and aching muscle joints.
“Although such a diagnosis in times will limit my life, I'm glad that the disease has been discovered so early,” she said.
“My goal is still to work and participate in the official programme as much as possible.”
Mette-Marit has been married into the Norwegian royal family since 2001, when she and Crown Prince Haakon wed in a lavish ceremony in Oslo.
The union was a controversial one as the bride was already a single mother to a then four-year-old son Marius Borg Høiby as well as having had a self-described “rebellious youth”.
Since marrying, the couple have had two more children, 15-year-old Princess Ingrid Alexandra—who is one day expected to be Norway’s queen—and Prince Sverre Magnus, 13.
The family are close friends of Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederick of Denmark, with the latter acting as best man at their wedding and as godfather to their daughter.