Norway’s most eligible young royal, Marius Borg Høiby, 20, is set to leave public life.
The unexpected news came in a brief statement made by Norway’s Royal Palace on Thursday.
Høiby, the first son of Crown Princess Mette-Marit, who celebrates his 20th birthday Friday, will begin studying for a business degree at an unspecified college in California on January 17, according to the statement.
“Høiby will not conduct any official activities on the Royal Family’s behalf,” the palace said.
Officials have removed Høiby’s pages from the royal website, “on the basis of his wish to live outside the public eye,” the statement said.
The disappearance of the 20-year-old’s portrait and biography leaves his two younger half-siblings to represent the next generation of Norwegian royalty.
Princess Ingrid Alexandra, who will turn 13 on January 21, and Prince Sverre Magnus, 11, are both heirs to the throne, while Høiby was not born of royal blood and has never had a royal title.
The palace also released an emotional letter written by Høiby’s mother Crown Princess Mette-Marit, 43, about her son.
“Marius is, and will continue to be, a vital member of our family,” Crown Princess Mette-Marit wrote. “He has always had a public role that has been very difficult to define.”
“Unlike his siblings, he has no official duties,” she said. “He won’t have a public role and is not a public person.”
“Marius became a symbol for the unusual choice we [she and Crown Prince Haakon] made when we married,” according to the Crown Princess’s open letter, published in full on the palace’s website.
Høiby has been considered a member of Norway’s royal family since his stepfather Crown Prince Haakon married his mother in an unprecedented royal wedding in August 2001.
Marius played an immediate role in his new grandparents King Harald and Queen Sonja’s official photos and Christmas videos made for media use. So it came as a surprise when Mette-Marit lashed out at state broadcaster NRK for focusing attention on her firstborn.
The crown princess also criticized coverage of her son’s “youthful thoughtlessness” but offered no specific examples.
“I’m glad my own youthful rebellion wasn’t followed with argus eyes,” she wrote. “It would have been much worse.”
“[The royal family] has always called him a full-fledged member, so attention follows,” former palace official Carl-Erik Grimstad told VG newspaper. “Norway’s most public family can’t demand a private life.”
Others questioned why Høiby didn’t tackle the issue himself rather than let his mother plead for privacy on his behalf.
“Now that he’s turned 20, we wanted to clarify his future role,” the Royal Palace’s Head of Communications Marianne Hagen said.
She refused to comment on whether Høiby would be accompanied to the United States by his reported girlfriend, heiress Linn Helena Nilsen.
But pleas for a quiet life may be wishful thinking as Høiby doesn’t shy away from social media. He and Nilsen publicly documented part of their summer visit to the U.S.
“Photos of him today abound, and my understanding is that he’s put them out there using social media,” according to Norwegian constitutional expert Kjell Arne Totland.
“As a member of the royal family, with a face most people recognize immediately, this is probably something he should expect, whether he likes it or not,” she said.