Now that we are nearing the conclusion of MASTERPIECE’s Atlantic Crossing, we in GBH’s Drama Club found ourselves getting super curious about the series’ female lead: Princess Märtha of Sweden, as portrayed by Sofia Helin. Don’t blame us — as Americans, we know plenty about President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (played by Kyle MacLachlan), and even his wife, Eleanor (played by Harriet Sansom Harris). But a foreign princess? Who may or may not have had a spicy emotional affair with FDR? Ooh, la la.

Like The Crown, it has been noted that Atlantic Crossing is a highly dramatized version of the true story. But still, as we began to dig deeper into the life of Princess Märtha, we found plenty of information that was fascinating, scandalous and definitely worth sharing. Here are a few of our favorite facts:

1. How about those first cousins?
While the marriage between Märtha and Olav appeared on the outside as a union made to strengthen the royal and political bonds between Sweden and Norway, it was also largely a love match. The Prince and Princess had deep affection for each other, and had three children: Ragnhild, Astrid and Harald.

2. She was a Delta Zeta sorority sister.
As we saw in the first episode of Atlantic Crossing, the royal couple took a tour of the U.S. just before the war. It was this trip that first introduced them to the Roosevelts — but that wasn’t the only alliance that Märtha made. During the trip, she and her lady-in-waiting were inducted into the Delta Zeta sorority as a gesture of goodwill.

3. Crown Princess… and Red Cross volunteer.
After Märtha and her children fled to the U.S. during the war, she quickly dedicated herself to the war efforts. Her most notable work was with the American Red Cross, both doing hands on work at their hospitals and accompanying Eleanor Roosevelt to give speeches at Red Cross rallies.

4. She was involved in the Atlantic Charter.
In 1941, Märtha accompanied President Roosevelt on the USS Potomac, the presidential yacht, on a trip to Newfoundland. It was here that Roosevelt would meet with Winston Churchill and develop the Atlantic Charter, a statement that set out the Allied goals for the world after World War II.

5. But what of the romance?
Märtha’s interest in Roosevelt was never confirmed. While Gore Vidal named her Roosevelt’s “last love,” Roald Dahl speculated that “all the smoke indicated a real fire,” and even James Roosevelt said that there was a “real possibility” that they had a romantic relationship. All of these speculations looked to FDR… but not Margaret.

Crown Princess Martha and King Olave arrive at Trondheim, Norway. Crowds cheer them on. Martha wears a black dress, a white hat with black feathers, and carries a large bouquet of wildflowers. Olav wears a trench coat and military cap.
Courtesy of Municipal Archives of Trondheim

6. A new Post-World War II life.
Märtha returned to Norway in 1945, after the war. She received a warm welcome, and threw herself into the work of restoring her adopted country through charity work and patronages.

7. Royal responsibilities take over.
In 1946, King Haakon, Märtha’s Father-in-Law, began to decline. As Olav began to take over the responsibilities of the throne, Märtha assisted with the official tasks, including making the annual New Year's Eve speeches.

8. Queen of people's hearts.
In 1954, after a long period of bad health and a fight with cancer, Märtha passed away in Oslo at the age of 53. While she never was officially the Queen, the Bishop of Oslo declared that she had “long been our Queen” in the people’s hearts.

9. Her legacy lives on...
A statue of Crown Princess Märtha, sculpted by Kirsten Kokkin, stands outside the Norwegian embassy in D.C. There are two replicas living in Sweden — one at the Royal Palace in Oslo, and one at the Seamen’s Church in Stockholm.

10. does her lineage.
The current King of Norway, Harald V, is Märtha’s son. Harald ascended to throne in 1991, succeeding his Father, Olav, after his death. Harald’s leadership has been met with acclaim, and celebrated his 30th year on the throne this past January.

Watch the (dramatized!) version of Märtha's life during World War II on GBH Passport.