The Crown Princess of Norway has today admitted meeting paedophile Jeffrey Epstein several times after his conviction in the US and apologised.
Princess Mette-Marit met with the disgraced financier on an unknown number of occasions between 2011 and 2013, following an introduction by mutual acquaintances.
The meetings took place after Epstein was convicted of sex offences, including soliciting a child for prostitution, in 2008.
Epstein was found hanged in his Manhattan jail cell in August this year awaiting a trial in the US on federal charges of sex trafficking.
Meetings between Epstein and the crown princess occurred in social settings, mostly in the US, with one instance of the pair meeting in Norway, according to the Dagens Næringsliv newspaper.
Today the Crown Princess issued an apology for having met the billionaire, who has also dragged fellow royal, Britain’s Prince Andrew, into controversy over their friendship.
Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway at the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and Daniel Westling in June 2010
Prince Andrew leaving sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s home and go for a stroll together through New York’s Central Park in 2011. Their meeting after Epstein’s 2008 conviction saw the prince step down as UK trade envoy
Andrew’s meetings with Epstein and his stays at the billionaire’s homes in the US caused charities and businesses to distance themselves from him in the wake of his interview with BBC Newsnight last month.
Her meetings with Epstein began when he was already shrouded in controversy as Prince Andrew was forced to step down as UK trade envoy after he was spotted meeting the financier in New York in 2011.
In a statement issued today following pressure from the DN newspaper, a Norwegian palace spokeswoman said the crown princess was not aware of the seriousness of Epstein’s crimes when they met.
It said: ‘I never would have associated with Mr. Epstein if I had been aware of the seriousness of the crimes he committed. I should have investigated his past more thoroughly, and I am sorry that I didn’t.’
Initially the palace admitted the princess had ‘a relation’ with Epstein but then 11 days after first being contacted about the allegations, confirmed their were several meetings.
In 2008 Epstein admitted and was convicted in Florida of procuring an under-age girl for prostitution and he served 13 months in prison after cutting a controversial plea deal with the district attorney.
Crown Prince Haakon, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, and the Family Dog, Milly Kakao, near Oslo in May in 2017
Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway said in statement via the palace that she was not aware of the seriousness of Jeffrey Epstein’s crimes
Epstein donated large amounts of money to the International Peace Institute in New York that is run by former Norwegian diplomat Terje Rod-Larsen, reports in the Norwegian media revealed.
Princess Mette-Marit met with Epstein in the Norwegian capital, but the palace would not disclose which of the financier’s homes in Florida, New York or Paris she visited.
Princess Mette-Marit said she was unaware of the seriousness of Epstein’s crimes when she met with him between 2011 and 2013
Her husband, Crown Prince Haakon, also reportedly ‘met Epstein on the street’, when they were on holiday in St Barts in the Caribdean, a spokesman added.
She cut contact with the billionaire in 2013, according to Norwegian media reports.
Guri Varpe, communications chief at the Royal Palace, other people were also present at all of the crown princess’ meetings with Epstein.
He told DN that the princess feared he was using his connection with her for his own ends, adding: ‘One of the meetings was at Epstein’s home. In addition, the crown princess had a brief meeting with Epstein once when he was in Oslo.
‘The crown princess did not of course know about the offences that were later revealed either.
‘The crown princess chose to end her contact with Epstein, because she had the impression among other things that Epstein tried to use the connection he’d had with the crown princess in regards to other people.’
Princess Mette-Marit regrets her association with Epstein, according to reports.
She said via a spokeswoman: ‘Through my longtime work with international health issues, I have seen the great damage that sexual assault does to children and women.
‘We all share responsibility to fight sexual assault and support victims, and I want to express my deep sympathy and solidarity with the victims of the assaults Jeffrey Epstein has carried out.’
Princess Mette-Marit apologised for her meetings with Epstein between 2011 and 2013 – after his 2008 conviction
Norwegian diplomat reportedly Terje Rod-Larsen, received $375,000 in 2017 and $225,000 in 2016 in charitable donations from Epstein.
Virginia Roberts has alleged she was trafficked by Epstein and had to have sex with the Duke of York on three occasions – a claim he categorically denies.
Andrew’s attempts to defend himself against Miss Roberts’s, now known as Giuffre, previous accusations and explain his friendship with the convicted sex offender in a Newsnight interview last month were branded a ‘car crash’ and led to him withdrawing from public duties.
He was widely criticised for failing to show remorse for his association with the disgraced financier or empathy with Epstein’s victims during his television appearance.
Norway’s Crown Princess Mette-Marit (centre right) with husbnd Crown Prince Haakon and Prince Sverre Magnus (left), and Marius Borg Hoiby (far right) on the confirmation of Princess Ingrid Alexandra (front) in the Palace Chapel in Oslo in August
Who is Crown Princess Mette-Marit?
Mette Marit was born a commoner, to farmers in Norway and was a single mother by the time of her controversial engagement to Crown Prince Haakon in 2000.
She became Crown Princess after the couple’s marriage in 2001. Mette Marit has spent her reign championing humanitarian projects while joining official visits.
Her first official appearance was at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony at Oslo City Hall on December 10, 2000, following the announcement of the couple’s engagement on December 1.
She has a sister and two older brothers, one of whom is Per Hoiby – chief executive of the PR agency First House.
Her stepbrother, Trond Berntsten, died during the Norway attacks in 2011.
She took longer than usual to complete her high-school degree and even admits to having a bit of a ‘rebellious’ phase.
Once she passed her final examinations in 1994 she spent several months working for the Norwegian-British Chamber of Commerce in London.
She met the prince at a party in the late 1990s during the Quart Festival in Norway, which used to the be the most visited music festival in Norwway.
Years later, after becoming a single mother she met the prince again at another party related to the festival.
Since she became Crown Princess, Mette-Marit, has taken multiple university courses. She got a master’s degree in Executive Management in 2012.
Some Norwegians thought that Haakon’s choice of wife was controversial because of her previous involvement in a society where drugs were readily available.
Haakon gave Mette-Marit the same engagement ring that his grandfather King Olav V and his father King Harald V had given to their fiancees.
The couple has two children – Princess Ingrid Alexandra, born January 21, 2004, and Prince Sverre Magnus, born December 3, 2005.
Mette Marit’s first child, Marius Borg Hoiby, born January 13, 1997, caused a security risk in 2012 by posting photographs of the family’s location on the internet.