September 10, 2001 12:00 PM

When Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon, 28, wed Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby, also 28, on Aug. 25, they added a modern touch to the old-fashioned pageantry. The bride floated up the aisle of Oslo Cathedral not on her father’s arm, but side-by-side with the groom. Added to earlier controversies about the couple’s premarital cohabitation and Mette-Marit’s son by a shady ex-beau, the marriage, says Nationen reporter Werner Dallawara, amounted to “a little revolution.”

Carrying a bouquet of orchids, hydrangeas and roses, Princess Mette-Marit, in a cream silk crepe-and-tulle gown, wore an antique diamond tiara (a gift from her new in-laws, King Harald V and Queen Sonja, both 64). During the Lutheran ceremony—witnessed by 800 guests. including Britain’s princes Charles and Edward—Bishop Gunnar Stalsett told the bride that she was starting a new life “with a clean slate.” Three days earlier the princess—whose son Marius, 4, was fathered by a man convicted of drug possession—faced up to her old life at a tearful press conference, where she apologized for youthful partying and leading a “dissolute life.”

Such uncharacteristic royal candor continued during the $2.25 million celebration that lasted till past midnight. After guests dined on turbot, lamb and the seven-layer wedding cake, Haakon made a heartfelt toast to his new bride. “You are an absolutely fantastic, complex person,” he said. “You bring out everything that is in me.”

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