OSLO - Norway celebrated after Crown Princess Mette-Marit gave birth on Wednesday to a princess who is in line to become the nation's first reigning queen in more than six centuries. Flags flew from public buildings across the Nordic nation to fete the girl, who is second in line to the throne after her father Crown Prince Haakon, 30. She is a great great great great granddaughter of Britain's Queen Victoria. Sexual equality campaigners rejoiced -- had she been born before the law of succession was changed in 1990, any younger brothers would have overtaken her in line for the crown.
The girl, who was given the title „Her Royal Highness", has a half brother, seven-year-old Marius, who is Mette-Marit's son from a former relationship and not part of the royal line. „She is 3,686 grams and 51 cm and the most beautiful baby girl in the entire world," a beaming Haakon told reporters after attending the birth and cutting the umbilical cord. „It was a powerful experience. I recommend it." Just hours after the birth, the royals left hospital and went home where they were greeted by 50 children, some of them classmates of Marius, cheering and waving Norwegian flags.
The new baby is set to be Norway's first female head of state and monarch since Danish Queen Margrete, a widow, ruled over Norway, Sweden and Denmark from 1388 to 1412. She would be the first Norwegian-born woman to head the country. Other Norwegian queens, like King Harald's wife Sonja, have married into the monarchy. Haakon is first in line to the throne. He upset some traditional royalists in 2001 when he married Mette-Marit, who admitted just before the wedding to a wild past attending parties where drug-taking was common.
Even so, the pregnancy boosted already firm backing for the monarchy, and Haakon's popularity has surged recently while he has acted as regent for his father. King Harald is recovering from surgery for bladder cancer in December. A poll this month showed about half the country's 4.5 million population favour the monarchy that dates only from 1905, when Norway won independence from Sweden. Only 20 percent favoured a republic, while 30 percent were indifferent. The name of the girl was set on Thursday on Ingrid Alexandra.