Prince Carl Philip engaged to marry Sofia Hellqvist

Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist, screen caption.

Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist, screen caption.

On Friday last week, 27 June 2014, the Royal Court summoned members of the media to a press conference at the Royal Palace of Stockholm, and without telling them the reason for it. The given time was 4:30 PM in the afternoon and the media duly arrived at what looked to be a very spontaneous and not very well planned event…

After much waiting the media could see Prince Carl Philip and Sofia walking into the palace from the inner courtyard and almost an hour after the set-out time they (and the live-watchers, as the media were live on internet TV) were told that the couple were inside speaking to King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia.

Members of the media were taken to the small baroque park at the Royal Palace, looking down at the water below its stairs, the same place where Crown Princess Victoria arrived to the palace as a newly married bride on the royal barge in 2010. After a long wait the royals finally came out from the palace.
- Hello everyone, as you understand I’ve had the great honour of getting engaged to this wonderful young girl. A day that is completely amazing. We’re both overjoyed. A little nervous of course, but very happy. It feels great, Prince Carl Philip said as they approached the hoard of media waiting.

The proposal had apparently been made on the morning of the same day, on the countryside at a place which they both love. The couple stood in front of the gathered media and took questions to cameras and microphones stretched forward.
- Sometimes it feels good and right. Today it did, the Prince said about the timing of popping the question.

- I was very surprised. I thought I was on my way in to work and would have a completely normal day, but that didn’t happen. I was overwhelmed with joy, Sofia Hellqvist told the media.

- The day has been great. I don’t think I’ve had time to digest everything just yet, as said, this just happened a few hours ago. Then it was bang-on, then I was supposed to stand her and meet you. Great, but completely new for me. It’s been busy. Tomorrow I think we’ll sit and stare each other in the eyes, wondering what we’ve done, Sofia explained her experience of the day that far.

Asked what they fell for in each other, Prince Carl Philip replied that Sofia has an enormous heart, is wise, warm, humble and makes him feel comfortable and at home, while Sofia said that Carl Philip is the most humble person she has met and that this was one of the traits he fell for in the beginning, and that he has one of the most beautiful hearts she has ever met, a very warm person.

King Car XVI Gustaf & Queen Silvia, screen caption.

King Car XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, screen caption.

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia were seen arriving at the Royal Palace just before the appointed time of the press conference. As they stepped out into the baroque park around an hour after the set time they were also asked to comment.

- We have gotten to know Sofia during a number of years and we think she is a nice person and we have always had a very nice time together when she has visited us together with Prince Carl Philip. This will be great for us in the family. It’s all very nice, the King remarked.

- We got to know about this rather late also, so it was all very secret, the Queen said.

Around the same time as the press conference, the Royal Court’s website released the following statement via their website:

Engagement between Prince Carl Philip and Miss Sofia Hellqvist

The Marshal of the Realm is delighted to announce the engagement between Prince Carl Philip and Miss Sofia Hellqvist.

After His Majesty The King of Sweden had given his consent to the marriage between Prince Carl Philip and Miss Sofia Hellqvist, His Majesty requested the approval by the Swedish Government, in accordance with the procedures set out in the Swedish Constitution.

- Sofia has today said yes to the question to spend the rest of her life together with me. Today is a very happy day for Sofia and I, says Prince Carl Philip.

The wedding date has not yet been decided but it is planned to take place during the summer of 2015.

Svante Lindqvist
Marshal of the Realm

Sofia Hellqvist was born in 1984, grew up in Dalarna County from the time she started school and has two sisters. The Prince and Sofia supposedly met for the first time in 2007 and began dating in 2009 after his break-up from girlfriend of ten years, Emma Pernald, in February of that year. The Royal Court confirmed their relationship in 2010 an they have lived together since May 2011. Sofia has, unlike previous royal partners, been invited to several official royal events, the first being Princess Estelle’s christening in May 2012.

It is believed that Prince Carl Philip and Sofia will renovate Villa Solbacken on Royal Djurgården, the former home of Prince Bertil and Princess Lilian left to him in Bertil’s testament. The court has already said that Sofia’s first official appearance will be on Crown Princess Victoria’s birthday which is celebrated on the island of Öland on 14 July. The wedding will be held in the summer of 2015 and Sofia will probably be made Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Värmland; that is if the King keeps with his gender-neutral ideas and reminds himself that Jonas Bergström was announced to be made a HRH and duke of his future wife’s duchies upon the marriage that never happened.

Spain has a new king, Felipe VI

Yesterday evening in the Hall of Columns at the Royal Palace of Madrid, King Juan Carlos signed into law the special legislation passed by both chambers of the Spanish parliament (Cortes Generales) that enabled him to abdicate the throne for his son Felipe.

Signature ceremony for King Juan Carlos abdication.

Signature ceremony for King Juan Carlos abdication.

The signing ceremony was a simple and poignant affair, at times with a melancholic and bitter-sweet feeling. King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia approached the palace by car as the Spanish national anthem was played and an honorary salute was fired. It was King Juan Carlos’ last car-ride to the palace as the reigning monarch. One can only imagine the emotions of voluntarily giving up the duty as king after overseeing so much development and change in Spain and Europe; being at the helm of a democratic development since the death of Franco in 1975.

The family closest to the old and new royal couples, seated to the right.

The family closest to the old and new royal couples, seated to the right.

Around 160 guests from official Spain were invited to oversee the historic signature. King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia were seated at the front centre, in front of the gathered guests, together with the (then) Prince and Princess of Asturias. The closest family was seated together on the right side: the (then) future king’s children Infanta Leonor and Infanta Sofia with their aunt Infanta Elena, the sisters of King Juan Carlos, Infanta Pilar and Infanta Margarita with husband. Also present were Infanta Alicia, Dowager Duchess of Calabria, and her son Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria, with his wife Anne. In the audience of guests one could spot King Simeon of Bulgaria and King Constantine of the Hellenes together with his wife Queen Anne-Marie.

The old and new royal couples after the signature.

The old and new royal couples after the signature.

A seemingly tired and frail King Juan Carlos left his walking stick to an aide and made his was to a table on the left side of the room. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy read out the legislation and the King subsequently signed it, with a counter-signature by the PM. Back at the royal seats King Juan Carlos greeted his family, especially his son Felipe with whom he exchanged a big bear-hug, before receiving a standing ovation lasting for several minutes. The signature ceremony ended with the Spanish national anthem, less than twenty minutes before the event started.

At midnight, 00:00 hours, the legislation came into effect as it was published in the official official state gazette (BOE, Boletín Oficial del Estado), and this the Prince and Princess of Asturias became King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain and their eldest daughter, Leonor, the new Princess of Asturias.

Today, on the morning of a public holiday in Madrid, the formal investiture and proclamation ceremonies for the new king started. At 9:30 AM in the audience room of the Zarzuela Palace, King Juan Carlos handed over the sash of the captain general of the Spanish armed forces; signifying that they have a new leader. This was another short ceremony were King Juan Carlos simply tied the red sash around his son’s waist while Queen Sofia, Queen Letizia, the Princess of Asturias, Infanta Sofia, Infanta Leonor, Infanta Elena and her oldest child Froilán, stood behind watching.

King Juan Carlos and King Felipe at the ceremony at Zarzuela.

King Juan Carlos and King Felipe at the ceremony at Zarzuela.

About an half an hour later, a car cortège transporting the royals to the centre of Madrid started; a journey that took them to the palace of the lower house of the Spanish parliament. There the new King and Queen together with their children were met by a military honour guard and the national anthem. After an inspection of the guard, King Felipe VI and his family briefly posed for photos on the palace stairs before entering the building.

King Felipe VI holds his proclamation speech in front of Queen Sofia, the Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofia.

King Felipe VI holds his proclamation speech in front of Queen Sofia, the Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofia.

On a large podium in front of the seated politicians and balcony of guests, the new royal family were seated. Jesús Posada Moreno, Speaker of the Congress of Deputies of Spain, held an introductory speech to mark the occasion. Queen Sofia, seated above on the balcony of guests together with her daughter Infanta Elena, received long standing ovations – all while her granddaughter Infanta Sofia noted her grandmother up there and told her sister the Princess of Asturias before they gave her a little wave.

The Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofia.

The Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofia.

Also seated on the balcony of guests, near Queen Sofia and Infanta Elena, were the sisters of King Juan Carlos, Infanta Pilar and Infanta Margarita with husband, King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, Infante Carlos, Duke of Calabria, with wife Anne, and Infanta Elena’s oldest child Froilán.

Queen Sofia speaks with close family and friends after the proclamation.

Queen Sofia speaks with close family and friends after the proclamation.

With the Spanish crown and sceptre from the eighteenth century placed on a stand just next to the seated royals, King Felipe VI rose and made his solemn proclamation. His two young daughters, whose feet didn’t touch the ground when seated on their chairs, did their best to listen to their father’s long following speech. After standing ovations and the national anthem, the ceremony was over. The proclamation ceremony was followed by a military defilé outside the palace of the congress.

King Felipe, Queen Letizia, the Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofia.

King Felipe, Queen Letizia, the Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofia.

At around 11:30 AM the new king and queen took their places in an open Rolls Royce which was then escorted, with the royal horse guards, to the Royal Palace. King Felipe VI stood up in the car during the whole cortège route and Spaniards lined the whole route.

King Felipe waves to people along the cortège route, Queen Letizia sitting down next to him.

King Felipe waves to people along the cortège route, Queen Letizia sitting down next to him.

As King Felipe and Queen Letizia arrived at the palace they received a gun salute from the gardens of the palace and people standing at the drive near the palace shouted “Viva El Rey” and “Felipe, Felipe”. The bells of the Almudena cathedral tolled and thousands of people stood with flags and cameras in the front park of the Royal Palace where.

King Felipe, Queen Letizia, the Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofia on the balcony.

King Felipe, Queen Letizia, the Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofia on the balcony.

Shortly after noon King Felipe and Queen Letizia and their daughters stepped out on the balcony for a very rare balcony appearance (in Spain this isn’t as common as in other countries). A considerably moved King Felipe received the ovations of the people with his wife and their two daughters who were both squinting their eyes at the strong sun as they waved and look out onto the crowds. King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia joined them for a short while.

King Felipe's proclamation

The afternoon was concluded by a private reception for two-thousand guests from various sectors of Spanish life at the Royal Palace of Madrid.

Videos from the above events can be watched at the official royal Spanish YouTube account.

Princess Leonore’s coat of arms and monogram

Princess Leonore's coat of armsIn connection with her christening yesterday, it was announced that Princess Leonore’s coat of arms and monogram have been approved by King Carl XVI Gustaf for future use.

The coat of arms, drawn by the heraldic artist of Riksarkivet (The National Archives) Henrik Dahlström, consists of an oval shaped shield with four fields that split the arms, a middle heart field and a ducal/princely crown adorning it to mark the royal dignity. The four fields show the Lesser National Coat of Arms (fields one and four), the Folkunga dynasty’s arms (field two) and the coat of arms of Princess Leonore’s duchy Gotland (field three). The heart shield shows the Bernadotte coat of arms.

Princess Leonore's mongram The province coat of arms of Gotland (landskapsvapen in Swedish) is a blue field with a standing silver ram with golden horns and hoofs, carrying a golden stick decorated with a cross and a flying banner in the same golden colour, decorated with a red field and five flaps of gold. This motive stems from the first known seal of Gotland from 1280 and reminds us of the Agnus Dei motive. The landscape coat of arms is in its usual function crowned with the ducal/princely crown.

The monogram, drawn by the former heraldic artist of Riksarkivet (The National Archives), Vladimir A. Sagerlund, consists of the simple initial L that is adorned by the ducal/princely crown to mark the royal dignity.

Royal christenings: Princess Leonore, Duchess of Gotland

Princess Leonore christened by Archbishop Wejryd, screen caption from SVT.Today, on their first wedding anniversary, Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Mr Christopher O’Neill hosted the christening of their first child and daughter, Princess Leonore, in Sweden. In the most splendid summer weather, the baroque estate of Drottningholm Palace by Lake Mälaren, a few kilometres west of Stockholm, bade welcome to family, friends and also the Swedish people via television.

Princess Madeleine, who was born at Drottningholm Palace in 1982, and Mr O’Neill had chosen to host the christening in the small palace chapel, decorated by Carl Hårleman in the eighteenth century, and thus marked a difference between this christening and that of Crown Princess Victoria’ and Prince Daniel’s first child which was a larger affair at the Royal Palace of Stockholm.

Guests started arriving after 11 AM and many ladies had chosen soft, creamy pastel colours and hats or coiffes. Apart from the Royal Family (King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, Princess Estelle, Prince Carl Philip and the happy parents) the guest list included members of the O’Neill family, members of the Queen’s family (Sommerlaths), and members of the extended Royal Family. Only three of the King’s sister attended: Princess Margaretha Mrs Ambler, Princess Désirée Baroness Silfverschiöld (without her husband) and Princess Christina Mrs Magnuson. Countess Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg, widow of the King’s late uncle Sigvard and who celebrates her 90th birthday this summer, and Countess Gunnila Bernadotte af Wisborg, widow of the King’s uncle Carl Johan, also attended. The only foreign royal on the guest list, which the Royal Court had earlier said would not include any such people, was Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, first cousin of King Carl XVI Gustaf on his mother Princess Sibylla’s side. The only one of Princess Madeleine’s godparents who did not attend was Princess Benedikte of Denmark.

Mr O'Neill, Princess Madeleine with Princess Leonore, King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Mrs Eva O'Neill. Back row from left: Princess Margaretha Mrs Ambler, Princess Désirée Baroness Silfverschiöld, Princess Christina Mrs Magnuson and Consul General Tord Magnuson. Screen caption from SVT.

Mr O’Neill, Princess Madeleine with Princess Leonore, King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Mrs Eva O’Neill. Back row from left: Princess Margaretha Mrs Ambler, Princess Désirée Baroness Silfverschiöld, Princess Christina Mrs Magnuson and Consul General Tord Magnuson. Screen caption from SVT.

The official parts of Sweden were represented by the Speaker of the Parliament, Per Westberg, Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt, members of the diplomatic corps and a short list of high ranking members of various authorities. Only two government ministers other than the Prime Minister attended and only one of the parliamentary party leaders, perhaps because the christening coincided with a birthday celebration of the Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt’s wife Anna Maria Corazza Bildt in Italy this weekend. The Royal Court was represented by both present and former staff; among them the present Marshal of the Realm, Svante Lindqvist, former Marshal of the Realm Ingemar Eliasson, now chancellor of the royal orders, Mistress of the Robes Countess Alice Trolle Wachtmeister with her husband Count Hans Gabriel, Marshal of the Court Karolin A. Johansson, head of the Crown Prince Couple’s household, as well former nannies of the King and Queen’s children. Personal and private guests included Prince Carl Philip’s girlfriend Sofia Hellqvist and long-time close Swedish friends of Princess Madeleine and the Royal Family.

The christening service commenced at noon when a salute of 21 shots was fired from Skeppsholmen in Stockholm. Archbishop Anders Wejryd, perfming his last big duty as such before laying down his archbishop’s crosier one week from now, was joined by Chief Court Chaplain Lars-Göran Lönnermark and the Pastor of the Royal Court Parish Michael Bjerkhagen in officiating the service.

The altar and chapel was decorated with beautiful blooming roses and peonies in different rose-colours and the baptismal font was dressed in ivy, the landscape flower of Gotland. Instead of using the grand and very heavy silver christening font from the seventeenth century, last used for the christening of Princess Estelle in 2012, the regular christening font of the Drottningholm Palace Chapel was used. Princess Eugénie’s crown from 1860 marked the royal dignity of the service.

On two opposite rows of chairs near the altar sat Princess Madeleine’s parents, siblings and Prince Daniel, and on the other the chosen godparents: Crown Princess Victoria (with Princess Estelle next to her in a mini-chair), Ms Louise Gottlieb, Mr Patrick Sommerlath, Mrs Tatjana d’Abo, Count Ernst Abensperg und Traun and Ms Alice Bamford.

The main character of the day, Princess Leonore, Duchess of Gotland, slept through most of the service. The little princess was dressed in a christening gown from 1906, made in cotton batiste and valencienne lace with a slip of satin woven silk and whose lining carries the embroidered names of its previous wearers (Prince Gustaf Adolf, Prince Sigvard, Prince Bertil, Prince Carl Johan, Princess Margaretha, Princess Birgitta, Princess Désirée, Princess Christina, Prince Carl Gustaf, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip, Princess Madeleine and Princess Estelle).

Mr Christopher O’Neill read the introductory thanksgiving prayer in English, Crown Princess Victoria read about Jesus and the children (Mark 10:13) in Swedish and then Mr O’Neill’s half-sister Mrs Tatjana d’Abo read from the Galatians in English. The music consisted of classic period music, coinciding well with the baroque surroundings, as well as the bridal march from Gotland, performed at the wedding of Princess Madeleine and Mr O’Neill, re-worked for organ. Court singer Elin Rombo sang Max Reger’s “Mariä Wiegenlied” (op. 76, nr. 52) in German and Swedish and the final psalm, before the recessional piece from Roman’s “Drottningholm music”, was a beloved classic, “En vänlig grönskas rika dräkt” that is sung in most schools when the start of the summer holiday is marked.

At the end of the ceremony King Carl XVI Gustaf attached a miniature of the Order of the Seraphim to Princess Leonore’s christening gown, signalling that she has been awarded the order but the princess will probably not receive the real insignia and start to wear them until she reaches the age of majority.

After the christening service guests exited the chapel and walked around it on the outside to reach the entrance to Drottningholm Palace. After a short posing moment on the stairs of the palace for the immediate family, Princess Leonore was laid down to rest in Karl XV:s cradle from 1826 in the Ehrenstrahl Drawing Room. In the same room, standing next to the cradle, Princess Madeleine and Mr O’Neill received the guests who also greeted King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia and Mrs Eva O’Neill who was standing at the other end of the room before the guests passed to the next room. The Ehrenstrahl Drawing Room is dominated by great seventeenth century paintings by court painter David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, depicting glorifying images of Dowager Queen Hedvig Eleonora and the Pfalz dynasty on the Swedish throne.

During the reception the Royal Family also allowed cameras to film a little bit of the receiving of the guests and the presentation of gifts, something which was not done at Princess Estelle’s christening. The Speaker of the Parliament and Prime Minister, speaking in front of the gathered guests and next to the happy parents on a podium, presented the government’s and parliament’s gift which is a collection of children’s books by Swedish authors. The Marshal of the Realm presented the court staff’s gift, a set of a children’s sized table and chair made by a carpenter from Gotland of local sustainable wood and presented together with a tea set. The County Governor of Gotland presented the County Administrative Board and people of Gotland’s present in the form of a photo and soft-toy depicting a baby foal of the Swedish race Gotland pony (Gotlandsruss) that was born on 21 May 2014.

After the reception a christening luncheon was given in Karl XI:s Gallery, a room that serves as a reminder of King Karl X Gustaf’s wartime achievements with great seventeenth century battle depictions. The menu consisted of lobster-filled pickled apple cannelloni, langoustine-pannacotta, trout roe and smoked dill crème, lemon and thyme filled chicken breast, confit leg of chicken, potato and asparagus terrine, sorrel sauce and asparagus buds, and a summer trio of rhubarb and strawberries for desert.

Back row: (godparents) Ms Alice Bamford, Mrs Tatjana d'Abo, Count Ernst Abensperg und Traun, Crown Princess Victoria, Mr Patrick Sommerlath, Ms Louise Gottlieb. Front row: Mr Christopher O'Neill, Princess Leonore, Princess Madeleine. Photo: Anna-Lena Ahlström, royalcourt.se.

Back row: (godparents) Ms Alice Bamford, Mrs Tatjana d’Abo, Count Ernst Abensperg und Traun, Crown Princess Victoria, Mr Patrick Sommerlath, Ms Louise Gottlieb. Front row: Mr Christopher O’Neill, Princess Leonore, Princess Madeleine. Photo: Anna-Lena Ahlström, royalcourt.se.

Crown Princess Victoria’s name day 2014

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014Until yesterday, three years had passed since Crown Princess Victoria’s name day was last celebrated with the traditional congratulatory call by the defence and the public at the Royal Palace of Stockholm.

In 2012 only weeks had passed since the Crown Princess had given birth to Princess Estelle when the name day came along and so the public celebration was cancelled. In 2013 the Royal Family were in mourning for Princess Lilian when the Crown Princess’ name day occurred two days afterwards and so it was cancelled again. But yesterday, 12 March 2014, it was time again.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014After a grey, damp and altogether depressing winter everyone in Sweden is longing for spring and summer. And so it was a treacherous sun that cast its glorious golden rays over Stockholm yesterday morning, making many people pick their spring coat instead of something warmer for the day. At the Royal Palace however, standing in the shadow of the inner courtyard, many realised how deceiving the sun can be. Luckily, I took the safe option and grabbed my winter coat for the day as I got on the train in the early morning.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014But however freezing many of us were, standing there awaiting the start of the event, I think the temperature might even have slightly risen when Crown Princess Victoria came out together with not only Prince Daniel but also the two-year old charmer Princess Estelle. Many happy exclaims came from all sides at the sight of the little princess who had a lot to look at, from the crowds surrounding the royals to the military men and band standing in front of them.

The Crown Princess’ family took their places together at the small blue podium, where the Crown Princesss has previously stood alone. At a safe distance behind the royals the head of H.R.H. The Crown Princess’ Household, Court Marshal Karoline A. Johansson, and Aide-de-Camp Helena Sigurdsson, placed themselves.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014Princess Estelle was impeccably well behaved during the concert part which consisted of the performance of three military marches, a drum salute, the traditional Swedish congratulatory song “Med en enkel tulipan” (“With a simple tulip”) and the Victoria fanfare followed by the congratulatory hurrah exclamation of the public.

The little princess applauded each performance and even broke into a little dance every now and then. Princess Estelle curiously looked up at the military representatives when they stepped forward to present their company’s congratulatory bouquet to her mother; perhaps thinking they had some funny looking hats on… Every now and then the little princess also looked back at Karoline and Helena standing behind them.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014After the musical programme was finished the Crown Princess went on her usual walkabout to receive flowers, presents and children’s drawings from the crowds. Prince Daniel took Princess Estelle on his arm and walked along. As always it was wonderful to watch the Crown Princess’ fantastic interacting with people of all ages, always taking the time to stop for a moment for all of those who wants her attention.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014The most spectacular gift of the day was probably the spettekaka that a woman brought with her directly from Skåne, of which it is a speciality. The Crown Princess was very happy to receive it and was impressed by how this fragile cake had been transported so far and arrived without any noticeable damages.

To see more of my photos from Crown Princess Victoria’s name day in 2014, please visit my Flickr album dedicated to the event.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014