STOCKHOLM (AFP, REUTERS) - Sweden’s Prince Carl Philip married former model and reality TV star Sofia Hellqvist in the chapel of the royal palace in Stockholm on Saturday (June 13).
A cheer erupted from the crowd outside the palace in Stockholm when the prince, 36, 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.
Addressing the crowd from in front of the palace in the early evening sunshine, the prince – a major in the Swedish navy and a part-time racing driver – thanked the public for their support. “It shows Sweden is a warm country with lots of love,” he said to loud applause.
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 Britain’s Prince Edward, Belgium’s Queen Mathilde and Princess Takamado of Japan.
Princess Sofia, 30, a slender and elegant brunette with no royal background, told public broadcaster SVT in an interview that aired on Friday (June 12) that the couple clicked after they met at a lunch with mutual friends in 2010.
For the ceremony, she wore a dress by Swedish designer Ida Sjöstedt with lace sleeves and back which revealed the star-shaped tattoo between her shoulder blades. Ahead of the wedding, royal-watchers had speculated that she may have been under pressure by the palace to remove or hide her tattoos.
Raised in a middle-class family in the small central Swedish town of Alvdalen, Ms Hellqvist took part in 2005 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 the show 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 her the Miss Slitz title.
She 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 organisation in March to focus on her new duties as princess following the wedding.
Her husband is third in line to the throne, behind his elder sister Crown Princess Victoria – who also married a commoner – and her three-year-old daughter Princess Estelle.