Swedish prince weds for­mer glam­our model

The China Post - - ARTS & LEISURE - BY TOM SUL­LI­VAN

Flag-wav­ing Swedes and roy­als cel­e­brated in the blaz­ing sum­mer sun on Satur­day as re­al­ity show star­let Sofia Hel­lqvist be­came a real-life princess as she mar­ried Prince Carl Philip.

A cheer erupted from the crowd out­side the palace in Stock­holm when Carl Philip kissed his bride, a for­mer glam­our model, be­fore rid­ing in a horse and car­riage pro­ces­sion through the heart of the cap­i­tal. Sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand well-wish­ers lined the streets.

At the tele­vised cer­e­mony in­side the royal chapel, the prince blinked back tears as the bride was led down the aisle to the dra­matic tones of Enya’s “Fa­ther in Heaven.”

He welled up again as he strug­gled with the ring and the cou­ple gig­gled in an al­most pri­vate-look­ing mo­ment in front of 550 guests.

The cer­e­mony was wit­nessed by other roy­als in­clud­ing the UK’s Prince Ed­ward, Bel­gium’s Queen Mathilde and Princess Taka­mado of Ja­pan.

‘Breathe out all the stress and

breathe in...love’

The new princess wore a dress in three tones of white crepe-silk and lace by Swedish fash­ion de- signer Ida Sjost­edt, end­ing with a sev­eral-me­ters-long train.

Chief court chap­lain Lars-Go­ran Lon­ner­mark, who of­fi­ci­ated the ser­vice, gave the cou­ple ad­vice on cop­ing with the pace of mar­ried life, drawing a par­al­lel with the prince’s pas­sion for race car driv­ing.

“Your home should be a dif­fer­ent kind of pit-stop ... where you’re not al­ways count­ing the min­utes and sec­onds but can be to­gether and un­wind. Breathe out all the stress and breathe in your se­cu­rity with each other and love for one an­other,” he said.

“You al­ready won the big prize when you said yes.”

Rem­i­nis­cent of a scene from the movie “Love Ac­tu­ally,” the new­ly­weds left the chapel to­gether to a rocky gospel song as the as­sem­bled guests clapped to the beat.

Princess Sofia, 30, a slen­der and el­e­gant brunette with no royal back­ground, is known for her in­fec­tious gap-toothed smile and easy­go­ing ways.

She told public broad­caster SVT in an in­ter­view aired Fri­day that the cou­ple clicked af­ter they met at a lunch with mu­tual friends in 2010.

Her hus­band, 36-year-old Carl Philip, is the sec­ond child of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Sil­via and holds the ti­tle of Duke of Varm­land.

He is third in line to the throne, be­hind his el­der sis­ter Crown Princess Vic­to­ria — who also mar­ried a com­moner — and her three­year-old daugh­ter Princess Estelle.

The prince main­tains his royal ti­tle thanks to a change of rules in 1980 which makes Hel­lqvist a princess through mar­riage.

“It is the first time a woman of the peo­ple mar­ries a prince who is also mar­ry­ing a princess,” royal his­to­rian Go­ran Alm told public broad­caster SR.

A glam­orous and openly af­fec­tion­ate cou­ple equally known for their sporty life­style, Carl Philip and Sofia are keen to project an im­age of them­selves as mod­ern and open roy­als, and are of­ten seen run­ning er­rands in town or pick­ing up take­away pizza in Stock­holm’s chic neigh­bor­hoods.

The Swedish me­dia re­vealed the prince’s bud­ding re­la­tion­ship with Hel­lqvist in 2010, tit­il­lated by her racy past.

In 2005 she took part in the Swedish re­al­ity show “Par­adise Ho­tel,” where young scant­ily clad men and women stay at a luxury re­sort and com­pete to be the last con­tes­tant voted off amid in­trigue, schem­ing and drama.

The year be­fore that, at age 20, she had posed top­less with a boa con­stric­tor for the men’s mag­a­zine Slitz, win­ning its Miss Slitz ti­tle.

‘I don’t re­gret any­thing’

The Swedish me­dia was quick to pub­lish the pho­tos when the cou­ple’s en­gage­ment was an­nounced in June 2014.

While the pic­tures may have raised a few eye­brows, Hel­lqvist’s col­or­ful past hasn’t led to any ma­jor con­tro­versy.

“It’s a shame there’s still so much writ­ten about that,” she told Swedish Tele­vi­sion in a doc­u­men­tary about the royal fam­ily in Jan­uary, re­fer­ring to the racy pho­tos.

“It was 10 years ago, I’ve got­ten on with my life since then ... I don’t re­gret any­thing,” she said.

Ahead of the wed­ding, roy­al­watch­ers spec­u­lated that she may have been un­der pres­sure by the palace to re­move or hide her tat­toos — but they were proven wrong as one on her up­per back was clearly vis­i­ble as she stood at the al­tar.

Raised in a mid­dle-class fam­ily in the small cen­tral Swedish town of Alv­dalen, Sofia left Swe­den for New York in 2005 where she stud­ied ac­count­ing and worked as a yoga teacher and wait­ress be­fore re­turn­ing to Swe­den.

In 2010, she and a friend founded the “Project Play­ground” char­ity to help dis­ad­van­taged chil­dren in South Africa, af­ter work­ing as a vol­un­teer in sev­eral African coun­tries.

She left her po­si­tion with the or­ga­ni­za­tion in March to fo­cus on her new du­ties as princess fol­low­ing the wed­ding.

Un­like her brother-in-law Chris O’Neill — an An­glo-Amer­i­can busi­ness­man who is mar­ried to Carl Philip’s sis­ter Princess Madeleine and who of­ten snubs royal events — Sofia is popular among Swedes who ad­mire her can­dor and com­mit­ment.

AP

Swe­den’s Prince Carl Philip sits with his bride, Sofia Hel­lqvist in a car­riage, af­ter their wed­ding cer­e­mony, in Stock­holm, Swe­den, Satur­day, June 13.

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