Princess Märtha Louise of Norway is the first-born of King Harald V and Queen Sonja, but she is fourth in the line of succession to the Norwegian throne because of gender-biased primogeniture. However, the royal recently revealed that she was offered a chance to change the law and become the queen.
Princess Märtha Louise was born in 1971, at a time when women were barred from inheriting the Norwegian throne. Her younger brother, Crown Prince Haakon, was born two years later and became the heir apparent to the throne. The laws of succession were eventually changed to allow absolute primogeniture in 1990, but this only applies to children born after that, so the princess is still behind her younger brother and his children in the line of succession to the throne.
Nonetheless, the change in laws also gave Märtha a place in the line of succession, which she wasn't allowed earlier because of her gender. In a recent conversation with Insider, the 49-year-old noted that the laws and the sexism within the royal family had made her a problem from the moment she was born.
"So the first thing that happened when I was born was basically 'Oh my god, it's a girl. What do we do?' I was basically a problem from when I was born, which I didn't know about. My mom and dad always wanted a girl, so I never felt that I was undermined because I'm a girl within my family," she said.
The princess revealed that she was offered a chance to change the sexist law and become the monarch in the future, by Gro Harlem Brundtland, the first female Prime Minister of the nation. However, she was merely 15 back then and did not want to take up the responsibility.
Recalling the offer that was made to her 34 years ago, the royal said: "I was totally happy growing up, I wasn't jealous at all. But when I was 15, the Prime Minister at the time was a woman, and she suddenly came up with the idea that this was wrong. I remember she came home to us, with granddad [King Olav V], and we had a discussion about whether we should change the whole system and I should be queen."
"They said, 'What do you want, Märtha?' And I'm like, 'I'm 15, I don't know about these things,'" she added.
The group eventually came to the conclusion that things should be left just the way they are, but it started a discussion and the law of inheritance was eventually changed four years later to allow first-born children to take the throne regardless of their gender. In changing its succession laws, the country was still 23 years ahead of the United Kingdom which introduced absolute primogeniture only before the birth of Prince George in 2013.
"For me, I was like, 'Phew.' It is a lot of pressure, and it really is a life that you need to choose and be committed to 100%. So I'm very happy that my brother is next in line, and he's doing an amazing job. He's focused on all the right things," Princess Märtha Louise said about her decision. The mother-of-three also denounced her HRH title in 2002 and has been working as a private citizen since then.
Norway is all set to see its first female monarch in the future, as Crown Prince Haakon's first-born is Princess Ingrid Alexandra, whom he shares with his wife Mette-Marit. However, Märtha notes that they have still a long way to go for equal rights for women, revealing that even her mother Queen Sonja had to face struggles within the royal household.
"I've seen my mom struggle, because when she came into the palace they had to wait nine years to get married because she wasn't aristocracy or from any royal background," she said.
The princess notes that the palace was "a military driven organization where the women had been gone for many years" back when her mother married into the family, and so she wasn't even allowed to have her own office and staff.
"She wasn't even accepted in the building," Märtha added about Queen Sonja who was made Queen consort of Norway after Harald V became King in 1991. The princess shares that at least 50% of palace staff are now women "thanks to my mother."