August 27, 2010

What I did on Summer Vacation

Recently I witnessed history, the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and HRH Prince Daniel. An unfortunate arrangement with Associated Press and other world news agencies prevented most Americans to view live the wedding that captivated Sweden and Europe this summer. Over 500 thousand people came out to the streets of Stockholm to celebrate as well as millions of viewers on live Swedish television.

You may be wondering what was the big deal. Another Royal Wedding. What did this wedding have a particular grip on people?

A commoner became a Prince because of love.

Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and her fiance wedding postage stamps
[these are the stamps I picked up while there]

Against tradition, Victoria fell in love with a commoner and with the help of the Royal Family, Daniel Westling, a gym owner, was transformed into a Royal Prince. It was the stuff that Cinderella stories were made of, but with a gender role-reversal. Victoria, with the help from her mother, convinced the King that the couple should marry. Through two years of intense training, Daniel learned four languages, became expert in Swedish history, and polished up his long hair rebel looks.

In a surprise announcement, King Gustaf announced that Daniel would hold the title HRH after the wedding. A commoner has never become a Royal in Sweden's history.

At the Royal Banquet, Victoria thanked the Citizens of Sweden for giving her Prince to her. In return, Prince Daniel told a story where Victoria had come home very late (they'd been living together) and stayed up all night before traveling abroad on an official engagement working. Why? The reason was revealed when he found a box with his name on it. Inside, a love letter for every day she'd be gone. She had stayed up all night writing. [insert crying here]

Princess Victoria is wearing the Crown her mother wore on her wedding day. The crown was a gift from Napoleon to Empress Josephine. Carved cameos line the crown which becametranslucent in the light as she walked past.

Each cake tier was the clover repeated as the Crown logo for the event. (see the 2010 clover logo on the cars below).

One note. The King stood to toast the newly married couple surprised the dinner guests with a speech about his own marriage to the Queen. The pair were married the same day 34 years earlier. Plucking a rose from the centerpiece he walked over to her, kissed her hand saying he loved her. Surprised and touched, you could tell Queen Silvia was holding back tears as the guests exploded with applause. He then congratulated Victoria and Daniel on their special day.

Wedding guests included the Royal Families of Europe including the Queen of Denmark, Netherlands, and the King and Queen of Norway and their Children. Prince Albert was there with a date... Charlene Wittstock, an Olympic swimmer for S.Africa... which was highly unusual... however, a few weeks later rumors from the evening were supported as it was announced he was going to marry her. Queen Elizabeth of England did not attend; however, her son, The Earl of Wessex and his wife took her place.

Princess Victoria's Siblings (above) were of course in attendance. Prince Carl an artist and race car driver, has a degree in Graphic Communication and recently has designed a set of silver objects which I'll share in a later post. Years ago Carl's interned at National Geographic in Washington D.C. (His sister, Victoria interned at the United Nations).

Princess Madeline was wearing a tiara owned by Victoria I of Sweden. What I thought was endearing was that her broach was a miniature of her father created when he became King.

Madeline called off her own engagement earlier on this year.

The flowers were donated by the government of Colombia. What you cannot see in this photo are the strands of flowers suspended from the ceiling hugging the clover-shaped pillars of the Cathedral.

The childhood home of the King, Haga Castle (above) is the new residence of Victoria and Daniel. Ownership of the castle was given to the state in 1966 by the King for official government use. The Prime Minister gave the house back to the Royal family in 2009 as a wedding gift from the people of Sweden upon the engagement announcement. The King personally spent US$5.3m to update the house for use by the Royal Couple as it had not been updated in nearly 50 years.

Below are the countless souvenirs/gifts one could buy while there. A portion of the proceeds of all sales go to the Royal Wedding Foundation, a charity for children.

Volvo created a series of white cars emblazoned with the Royal Wedding insignia on the side of the cars. The same logo embroidered onto the seats. The Royal family leased the cars from Volvo to transport wedding guests to/from the wedding, but also around where the guests liked during their stay in Stockholm.

Afterwards, the cars were auctioned off to raise money for the Royal Couples' Wedding Foundation, a children's charity mentioned earlier.

Stockholm's re-branding “The City of Love” was an entire year of celebration including interviews with Swedish couples on the website Coincidentally, June marked the one-year anniversary of gender-neutral weddings.

Friends of the Royal Couple, singer Peter Jöback danced with his partner, gym instructor OscarNilsson, at the party following the Royal Banquet. Peter performed at the Royal Concert that took place the evening before the wedding.

John Paul Young's song Love is in the Air states ".... Love is in the air, every where I look around... Every sight and every sound..."

And for a day in Sweden's history, love was definitely in the air.