Icelanders turn cool on the President as his hot, glamorous romance drags on

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The Independent Online

The love affair of Iceland's President with a London-based socialite promised so much – romance, glamour, the meeting of worlds. Yet sadly it has turned into a saga.

Now Icelanders are demanding a snappy ending, preferably one featuring a bishop, two rings and plenty of bridesmaids in tow.

But President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson is stalling. While he was happy to parade his fiancée, Dorrit Moussaieff, at last month's state visit to the Faeroes, he just will not do the decent thing and make the relationship formal. The wedding date, originally pencilled in for before the end of last year, keeps being postponed.

Normally, Icelanders are quite relaxed over this sort of thing. Theirs is a country, after all, where more than half of all children are born out of wedlock, and the common folk, especially the women, take pride in their loose morals.

Thus, no one batted an eyelid when the President, so soon after the death of his wife, went on national television to announce he had fallen in love again. He had met Ms Moussaieff, reportedly an Israeli citizen, in London. She was beautiful, cheerful and filthy rich.

"I like him, and I love the country," Ms Moussaieff informed the nation, pledging to learn the people's difficult language and take up Icelandic citizenship.

When the couple announced their engagement in May last year, even the Bishop of Iceland, Karl Sigurbjornsson, gave his blessing. Her Jewish faith, the bishop assured the couple, would be no obstacle to a ceremony in the bosom of the Lutheran State Church.

The people cannot wait. One particular Icelander, the politician August Einarsson, chairman of the People's Movement, has had enough of hanging around the presidential palace in Reykjavik on the off-chance that wedding invitations are about to be handed out. By neglecting to tie the knot, the President is letting the country go to the dogs, he declared.

"The President is first and foremost in a public position and it is normal, since his fiancée accompanies him widely as a representative of Iceland, that they should decide whether or not we are to expect a marriage in the near future," Mr Einarsson thundered. "The fact that he is living with a woman outside marriage is distasteful, since both parties appear on Iceland's behalf."

Tempers are running high. The wife of an MP has been anonymously quoted describing Ms Moussaieff as a "flirt". Something must be done. Will President Grimsson act now and make an honest woman of his provisional first lady?

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