Tag Archives: weddings

Princess Madeleine’s wedding: my day in Stockholm

Princess Madeleine's wedding
Every time there’s a royal event possible to reach in real life, the same question pops up: should I stay or should I go? That is: should one stay at home and enjoy the festivities via television via which one gets the best view, can see everything and at the same time follow photos being published online OR should one go to the event in person and actually see some of those royals in real life but on the other hand get a limited experience of the full event, having to come home and catch up on everything?

Yesterday, on Princess Madeleine’s wedding day, I decided to go. After all, the number of royal weddings is very limited, especially per generation and in a small country like mine. So off I went into Stockholm in the forenoon, arriving around 10 AM to a capital with beautiful clear blue skies and a scorching sun.

Princess Madeleine's weddingAfter suffering from decision anxiety about where to stand during the day I had decided to first watch the guests leave the hotel to go to the wedding and then make my way to Riddarholmen, the ending point of the cortège, to see all the guests leave on boat for Drottningholm.

So after arriving to Stockholm I first made a walk to look up the locations, joining my friend Johannes who was in the capital to help Aftonbladet with their web-TV during the day. The metal barricades were already up along the cortège route and everything was prepared at the ending point, with carpets laid out and flower decorations in place. Since it was told that the public would have a viewing point there we decided where a good place to stand could be.

Walking back from Riddarholmen, Johannes left to meet up with Aftonbladet and I stayed on the other side of the road to Grand Hôtel where they had also put up metal barricades and a special box for the media. Since I was there so early Stockholm was still quite calm and there was nothing to do but wait. After a while I noticed I was not alone however, and so I came to talk to a Finnish man who shares my interest in seeing and photographing royals. I even got a chance to practice my horribly rusty Finnish a little. He had found the best spot to stand at aside from the media box and so we came to share it for a few hours. Apart from a few guests occasionally stepping out on balconies to pose for gala portraits above us, there wasn’t much to see for a few hours.

Princess Madeleine's weddingMy first royal sighting was Hereditary Prince Hubertus of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, he walked back and forth to the hotel a few times, to and from somewhere. After a while Princess Benedikte of Denmark got into a car, dressed in a suit, and remained gone for quite a while.

Around noon Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, first cousin of King Carl XVI Gustaf on his mother Princess Sibylla’s side, came out through the main entrance and talked to his son for a bit. It’s not often one has the chance to see German royals in Sweden and because of the family connection with our Royal Family it always feels a little extra special to see that they come to attend events. As Prince Andreas was going for a walk I grabbed my courage and went up to him, he kindly accepted to pose for a photo and accepted my greetings.

By the time guests were starting to come out of the hotel to leave, after 2:30 PM, my friend Pia had joined me. The first to leave were the groom’s best man, Cedric Notz, and someone we couldn’t ID – but after that followed an amazing row of royals. Pia and I had a wonderful time and as really the only ones who could ID all the guests we called on their attention, to the amusement and joy of the by then large assembled crowds around us, and most of them waved and were happy to be recognized. The Earl and Countess of Wessex, Prince Nikolaos and Princess Tatiana of Greece, Prince Philippos of Greece, Princess Theodora of Greece, Princess Charlene of Monaco, Hereditary Prince Hubertus and Hereditary Princess Kelly of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Crown Prince Pavlos and Crown Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, Princess Benedikte of Denmark, Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Prince Joachim and Princess Marie of Denmark, Prince Leopold and Princess Ursula of Bavaria, Prince Manuel and Princess Anna of Bavaria, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and Ari Behn.

Princess Madeleine's weddingThose were the guests we were really there to see but of course a large number of others also passed review. At times it was really crowded with guests on the sidewalk but I think we also spotted Prince Pierre and Princess Silvia d’Arenberg and Princess Khaliya Aga Khan. A few guests, like Princess Takamado of Japan and Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie of Luxembourg were staying elsewhere and the closest family at the royal residences of course. The groom’s mother Mrs Eva O’Neill and her daughters and parts of their families left together and wedding dress designer Valentino was one of the last to leave for the ceremony. Most of the guests were transported on blue public transport buses with Swedish flags and marked “The Royal Wedding” for route name for the day. Some special VIP guests were driven in white chauffeured Volvo’s.

After watching the guests leave the hotel we immediately walked to Riddarholmen to find a spot for the ending point of the cortège. Since they had announced that the bride to the island would be closed off and all traffic would be halted for the cortège later on it was best to be there early, I figured. When we got there a small crowd had already gathered but we managed to get a decent spot, the press enclosement down in prime location by the boats at the quay remained empty for a long time while the public was waiting. It was a mixed crowd that grew in size as we waited, from elderly ladies sitting on camping chairs to parents with children to keep calm and young people sitting on the stone pavement. Thanks to our smartphones we watched parts of the wedding ceremony live on SVT, with the sun still shining intensely upon us but a few dark clouds occasionally appearing.

Princess Madeleine's wedding

A little after 5 PM the buses transporting guests began arriving. By that time the public had been warned ahead of time that the island would be closed off and everyone would have to remain in place until the boats had left. Unfortunately for the huge crowds gathered on Riddarholmen the last stop of the cortège was not planned as a good viewing spot for the public, despite expectations raised by talk of special viewing locations. The blue double-buses stopped right in front of us and we could only see the guests get off and walk down the stairs the quay on the other side – by the time the bus had moved, one after one, most guests were out of sight. This was of course much to the disappointment of the crowds, some boos and whistles were heard, mainly aimed at the “slow” bus drivers (of course everyone knew it wasn’t their fault, it was simply planned like this).

Princess Madeleine's wedding

Three boats lay at the quay to received guests on board, the first one in the row was the family and royal boat and was the only one to remain until the bride and groom – Princess Madeleine and Chris O’Neill – arrived. A few minutes before 6:30 PM the cortège arrived but apart from a few waves from the bridal couple in the carriage, also they disappeared from view on the other side before the carriage and horses had moved on.

Princess Madeleine's wedding

Around 6:40 PM Stockholm blasted its horn and sailed off for Drottningholm, a large fleet of private small boats following it in a tail and crowds gathered on all sides of the water waving it off into the horizon.

Princess Madeleine's wedding

After standing for the entire day and not having had anything but a bottle of water to consume, feats were tired and shoulder sun-burned. We ended the day with a meet-up at a restaurant in nearby Old Town, finally having some food, drink and a chance to share each other’s experiences. When I came back home around 11 PM there wasn’t much to do but to have a small snack and then have lights out. It wasn’t difficult to sleep after a happy and eventful day in a perfect summery Stockholm.

To see a few more of my photos (and I might add more later) please look at my Flickr stream.

An update on Princess Madeleine’s wedding

Princess Madeleine and Christopher O'Neill. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier/The Royal Court.

Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier/The Royal Court.

The Royal Court has today issued several updates on the coming royal wedding between Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill on 8 June. They have also published a special wedding section on their website and made a more thorough official biography of Christopher O’Neill available.

Christopher O’Neill’s title

The Marshal of the Realm, Svante Lindqvist, today issued a press release announcing that Christopher O’Neill will not receive a title subsequent to his marriage with Princess Madeleine. The wording of the announcement, translated from Swedish by me, reads:

Mister Christopher O’Neill is and remains an American citizen, and he intends to continue his business activities as before after he has entered marriage with H.R.H. Princess Madeleine. According to the policy of the Royal House a member of the Royal House should be a Swedish citizen, and not hold a position of responsibility in the business world.

This means that Mister Christopher O’Neill – according to these principles – cannot bear the title H.R.H. Prince of Sweden or Duke of Gästrikland and Hälsingland.

With reference to these demands Mister Christopher O’Neill has respectfully requested to remain a private citizen and not be bestowed with royal dignity.

The title announcement is perhaps not very surprising in my opinion; I really hadn’t expected anything else. What remains to be decided and announced is how they will handle the couple’s future children. The Swedish Act of Succession states that princes and princesses should be brought up in Sweden, the question is what legals experts would argue that it entails in today’s world. Princess Madeleine will not give up her H.R.H. or lose her position in the Royal House after the marriage.

Princess Madeleine & Christopher O'Neill's monogram by Vladimir A Sagerlund.

Princess Madeleine & Christopher O’Neill’s monogram by Vladimir A Sagerlund.

Joint monogram

The heraldic artist at Riksarkivet (The National Archives) Vladimir A Sagerlund has composed the couple’s monogram. It consists of their intertwined and mirrored initials with a princely/ducal crown adorned with Vasa vases and sceptres resting above the M.


Lysning, the traditional announcement of an impending marriage in the church, will be held for Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill this coming Sunday 19 May in the Royal Palace Church at 11 AM. The lysning announcement will be made during the Royal Court Parish’s weekly Sunday service but afterwards a reception for invited guests will be held at the Royal Palace at 2 PM.

Wedding celebrations

On Friday 7 June a wedding dinner will be held at Grand Hôtel which lies opposite the Royal Palace, just across the water. This will be a private dinner for family and friends.

On Saturday 8 June the wedding will take place in the Royal Palace Church at the Royal Palace at 4 PM. The Chief Court Chaplain Lars-Göran Lönnermark and the Pastor of the Royal Court Parish Michael Bjerkhagen will be officiating.

The Prime Minister and parliamentary party leaders are invited to the wedding.

After the ceremony is over a salute of 21 rounds will be shot from Skeppsholmen near the palace. The bridal couple have not announced a balcony appearance but will travel from the palace to Skeppsholmen in a cortège with military lining the route. From Riddarholmen the couple and invited guests will travel to Drottningholm by boat.

At Drottningholm a wedding dinner will be held, responsible chef is the court’s usual choice Stefano Catenacci from Operakällaren in Stockholm.

Sveriges Television (SVT) will air the wedding ceremony but not the dinner. It has not (yet) been announced if they will be allowed to film anything from the inside at Drottningholm, such as the speeches, but they will cover the arrivals there.

Religious wedding of Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia & Princess Sophie of Isenburg – Potsdam 27 August 2011

On Saturday 27 August 2011, I woke up at 6 AM to a royal and imperial wedding day in Potsdam. Unfortunately the weather predictions were a little shaky and some rain showers were possible in the forecasts, so I packed not only my umbrella but also a rain poncho. It might sound slightly crazy to get up at such an early time on a Saturday, but I was in Potsdam for a reason and a day like this will never come again. Not since 1938 had the city seen a royal and imperial wedding, the orthodox ceremony of Prince Georg Friedrich’s grandfather Prince Louis Ferdinand and Grand Duchess Kira of Russia at Cecilienhof, and one as big as this is not likely to occur again in some time.

Friedenskirche 27 August 2011

And so after an early breakfast we made our way out into the streets of Potsdam. On the day before, barricades had been put up around the cortège route and on the street near the church camera stands had been set up for the TV cameras. After receiving our media accreditation cards at a nearby hotel we immediately went to the media area in the church yard at Friedenskirche and reserved places. A little after nine o’clock it was possible to have a look inside the church where the colour theme was clearly white and blue. Place cards were being put out on the seats for guests, little cushions placed at the base of the christening font for the young bridal attendants and chairs for the wedding witnesses were placed on the left side of the altar.

Friedenskirche 27 August 2011

The first guests started arriving a few minutes after ten and then they continued to arrive in small or large groups, and sometimes only a couple at a time.

Friedenskirche church arrivals Saturday 27 August 2011

Friedenskirche church arrivals Saturday 27 August 2011

The bride’s closest family, her mother and sisters with families, arrived about a quarter before noon, when the ceremony was set to start, and the groom together with his mother and sister arrived about five minutes before. Almost last to arrive (one couple arrived on foot after the bride had already entered, one woman came when the ceremony was over) was the bride, the Swedish silver Rolls Royce was sighted driving through the gates to the churchyard only one or two minutes before noon.

Friedenskirche church arrivals Saturday 27 August 2011

The bride’s father, Fürst Franz Alexander of Isenburg, stepped out of the car first and then it took a little moment for Princess Sophie to collect herself and come out of the car. It looked as if someone stepped on the train and it had to be re-attached by an assistant by the car. It was two or three minutes after noon when father and bride walked up the red carpet into the church and soon we could all hear The Prince of Denmark’s March by Jeremiah Clarke rise up to the sky. Continue reading

Prussia/Isenburg wedding: concert Friday 26 August 2011

A little more than a week ago, on Friday 26 August. an enthusiastic group of us arrived at the Konzerthaus at the Gendarmenmarkt square in Berlin to await the arrival of guests to the pre-wedding concert of Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia and Princess Sophie of Isenburg.

It was around three o’clock in the afternoon and we were among the first on the scene, something that gave us an opportunity to chat with the security staff and decide where to stand before it got crowded.

The bridal couple, who had tied the knot already in a civil ceremony at the city hall of Potsdam the day before, had decided to host the annual benefit concert for the Princess Kira of Prussia Foundation on the eve of their religious wedding as a kind of a pre-wedding event instead of hosting it at Burg Hohenzollern later in the year, as done previously.

Guests began arriving around 6 PM and among the first ones were Prince Georg Friedrich and Princess Sophie themselves, arriving by car and posing for photos for a short while on the stairs to the concert hall before entering to receive their guests. Shortly after the couple’s arrival came some of their closest family members; first came Princess Sophie’s parents Fürst Franz Alexander and Fürstin Christine of Isenburg and their son and bride’s brother Prince Viktor.

The concert was a private event and there were no media arrangements but in the information released we learned that the programme for the evening was themed “Tableaux Musicaux – 950 years House of Hohenzollern”, consisting of pieces commissioned by the Hohenzollern court as well as compositions by family members. Performers were the baroque ensemble Lautten Compagney, the choir of the Sing-Akademie zu Berlin and the State and Dome Choir Berlin.

Konzerthaus Berlin

To see more of my photos from the concert arrivals, please visit my Flickr album devoted to the wedding.

A royal wedding week in Stockholm

King Albert & Queen Paola of Belgium

King Albert & Queen Paola of Belgium

This past week has been busy and wonderful as my country celebrated the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling in Stockholm. Because I have been working with Swedish Radio I haven’t been able to be near a computer all the time or to go royal watching at all the events, but even so I’ve had some very memorable days.

Royal watchers from near and far gathered in Stockholm for the events and they had a great many wonderful royal sightings around the palace, at the royal yachts anchored, and standing outside events. I met up with them as much as I could.

On Friday 18 June there was a special lunch for royal enthusiasts gathered in Stockholm for the wedding, arranged on the initiative of Roger Lundgren and I, at restaurant Monarki (aptly named, Monarchy in English). We ate some nice food and had a chance to talk a little more deeply with people we had both met before and not. In the evening I couldn’t get away from the radio until quite late so when I arrived outside the Concert Hall to watch the arrivals for the government’s festive concert for the bridal couple the square in front of it was already quite packed. But I did spot a lot of royals and other prominent guests arriving, it was only that my camera view was not good enough to take photos. But at least I got to experience it live, that’s what matters. After the arrivals were over and done with we admired the special white wedding Volvo’s outside and chatted with the drivers before finding a restaurant for a well-deserved rest and some food for us all.

On Saturday 19 June, the wedding day, I was at the radio all day. In the evening a group of royal watchers met up at a central restaurant and it was a truly exhausted but exuberantly happy group that met me as I arrived a little bit after they had ordered their food. After having stood the entire day outside the palace, from early morning to early evening, they had sore feats and backs, hunger in their stomachs and weathered looks on their faces – but they were all so happy and shared their experiences of the day with me. After finishing dinner together I suggested we could all gather in my hotel room to watch the wedding dinner on TV together, and so we did. I had luckily bought some candy on the way to the restaurant and a friend of mine had kept a bottle of bubbly in his bag all day long – but with the help of the hotel’s ice machine and the bathroom sink everything worked out so that we could have a toast and something sweet as we all hushed each other when the speeches began. Needless to say it was very late when the night was over.

The following day, Sunday 20 June, marked the end of a wonderful wedding week. Everyone was about the depart from the city, royal watchers and royal guests, so we met up at Grand Hôtel opposite the Royal Palace of Stockholm, on the other side of the water, to see who we could spot leaving. And those we ended up seeing, leaving in cars, were Prince Hassan and Princess Sarvath of Jordan, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, President Tarja Halonen of Finland, Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan, King Albert and Queen Paola of Belgium, the Duke and Duchess of Brabant, Prince Laurent and Princess Claire of Belgium, Princess Astrid and Prince Lorentz of Belgium leaving in cars. We could also spot King Simeon and Queen Margarita of Bulgaria going for a walk.

Royal wedding decorations

After seeing so many guests depart we decided to go to the Royal Palace to look at the floral decorations that were still in place and have a look in the cathedral were everything was still in place after the wedding ceremony. Needless to say we were not the only ones who wanted to see it, the streets of the Old Town were incredibly crowded.

Storkyrkan the day after the royal wedding

Our group of royal watchers got smaller as the day progresses. After one last meal together, just me and two other royal watchers, it was time to leave Stockholm and go home. An unforgettable royal wedding week fresh in memory, a sweet to treasure for a long time to come, was over.