Putting years of speculation to rest, the engagement of Swedish Crown Princess Victoria to her boyfriend Daniel Westling was announced by King Carl XVI Gustaf at the Royal Palace on Tuesday, February 24, 2009.
Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling are no strangers to weddings. They have probably attended enough of their friends' ceremonies to be prepared for their own big day. Photo: Leif R Jansson/Scanpix
Press and public were gathered outside the Royal Palace in Stockholm, all excited to be among the first to hear the big news: Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria is finally going to marry her prince, long-time companion Daniel Westling. Their marriage joins two very different worlds. He is an ordinary, small-town guy from a middle-class family; she was raised at Drottningholm Palace, just outside of Stockholm, and is Europe’s only female heir apparent to the throne.
The couple met in 2002 at the gym that Westling runs, and where he was Victoria’s personal trainer. Since then, the two have been dividing their time between the so-called lake wing of the palace, where the Crown Princess resides, and Daniel’s apartment in Östermalm, in central Stockholm.
The wedding will take place in early summer 2010.
In the early days of their relationship, the couple took a beating from the press and public that questioned the suitability of Victoria’s suitor.
In her book Prinsessor (Princesses, 2007), royal reporter Catarina Hurtig quotes Victoria as saying: “Thank goodness someone dared to have a relationship with me. It’s definitely not easy to be together with me and to come from a completely private situation to a situation where you’re being judged all the time and your friends are being judged too. But this is the situation for everyone who’s in the spotlight.”
Over the years, the sentiment has gone from criticizing Westling’s non-intellectual style, baggy camouflage pants and baseball caps — he has since gone through a style make-over — to impatiently pressing for a wedding announcement.
Now royal watchers are looking forward to Sweden’s first royal wedding since Victoria’s parents, Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, married in 1976.
A queen in the making. Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria is always on the go. Photo: Tomas LePrince/Scanpix
A future queen
Victoria Ingrid Alice Désirée, Crown Princess of Sweden, was born on July 14, 1977, into the House of Bernadotte. Her siblings, Prince Carl Philip, born in 1979, and Princess Madeleine, born in 1982, share much of the spotlight, but not the burden of responsibility that comes with being successor to the throne.
Victoria became Sweden’s deputy head of state at the age of 18 and she will become Sweden’s first reigning queen within the House of Bernadotte, due to the 1979 Act of Succession, enabling the eldest child, male or female, to succeed to the throne.
Sweden’s royal family is popular. Between 70 and 80 percent of Swedes support the monarchy. According to a Demoskop poll, 64 percent of Swedes think the King should retire when he turns 65 and let Victoria take over the throne. That would be soon — the King turns 65 in 2011. Yet neither father nor daughter appears to be in a hurry to change jobs.
Pomp and ceremony, Swedish style
As heir apparent to the throne, the Crown Princess supports the King, replacing him on many official engagements and state visits when he is unable to attend. As a representative of Sweden, she travels extensively abroad and within the country.
Despite her royal upbringing, Victoria is considered to be down to earth, preferring ordinary pastimes like going on nature walks, skiing and working out with her fiancée, to hanging out at Stockholm clubs with her somewhat flashier sister Madeleine. She quite happily gives up formal attire for casual clothes whenever she gets the opportunity, and often has her hair tied up in a simple ponytail.
At the 2008 Nobel party, Sweden's royal family were dressed to impress. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/Scanpix
The multilingual Crown Princess has studied French at the Université Catholique l’Ouest in Angers, France, history and political science at Yale University in the United States and conflict resolution at Uppsala University in Sweden. She has worked as a trainee at the Swedish Trade Council’s Berlin and Paris offices and for brief stints at the United Nations in New York, as well as at the Swedish embassy in Washington, DC.
In addition to her engagement in international aid work and peace activism, Victoria works with charity: the Crown Princess Victoria’s Fund. The fund aims to provide support for leisure and recreational activities for children and young people with chronic illnesses or functional disabilities.
Televised fundraising takes place annually on the Swedish National Day, June 6, and on Victoria’s birthday, July 14. That day, large crowds gather on Öland, the island off Sweden’s south-eastern coast where the royal family spend the summer, to celebrate the Crown Princess’s birthday together with her.
In 2009, future prince Daniel Westling will also be celebrating at Crown Princess Victoria’s side.
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The author alone is responsible for the opinions expressed in this article.
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