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Norway Holds Fairytale Royal Wedding - 2001-08-25

Norway's crown prince has married a self-confessed former wild party girl in a fairytale ceremony attended by royal guests from throughout Europe. The Norwegian capital, Oslo, was in a festive mood, as more than 100,000 people jammed the streets to catch a glimpse of the royal couple.

A sea of Norwegian flags and multi-colored roses brought a dull gray day to life as Crown Prince Haakon went to Oslo's main cathedral to make his live-in girlfriend, Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby, his princess. The couple rode to the church in an open Cadillac that belonged to the prince's grandfather, King Olav V.

Big screen televisions had been placed on the streets so onlookers could watch the ceremony. The crowd cheered when the couple repeated their vows.

Among those on hand for the wedding were several reigning monarchs, as well as crown princes and princesses from Denmark, Sweden, Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik served as best man. The maid of honor was Linda Taarnevik, a commoner who is the bride's best friend.

Ms. Hoiby's 4-year-old son from a previous relationship also took part in the festivities, serving as a page.

After the ceremony, the couple stood on Oslo's main thoroughfare to greet well-wishers before departing for a wedding banquet.

Prince Haakon's choice of Ms. Hoiby to be his bride stirred controversy in the Scandinavian country of 4.5 million people. She is a former waitress whose son was fathered by a man convicted of drug crimes. At a news conference several days ago she admitted to having been a regular on the all-night party circuit where drug use is common. But she did not say whether she had taken drugs, and she condemned their use.

Opinion polls had shown a decline in public support for the monarchy after the prince decided to move into an Oslo apartment with the woman and her son more than a year ago. But surveys taken in recent days indicate Norwegians are willing to forgive the youthful indiscretions of their new crown princess.

A poll conducted by Norway's biggest circulation newspaper showed that 70 percent of those surveyed thought Princess Mette-Marit has what it takes to be queen.