June 16, 2010 / 3:29 PM / 7 years ago

Sweden parties as royal wedding festivities begin

STOCKHOLM (Reuters Life!) - Love is in the air in Stockholm as Sweden’s capital city puts on its finery for the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria, heir to the Swedish throne, and her former personal trainer Daniel Westling on June 19.

<p>Postcards commemorating the upcoming marriage of Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and her fiance Daniel Westling are on display in a shop in front of the Stockholm Cathedral is in Gamla Stan, or the Old Town district of Stockholm June 16, 2010. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch</p>

The city is already in party mode for the first royal wedding since King Carl XVI Gustav married German-Brazilian Silvia Sommerlath in 1976, with Victoria’s nuptials the finale to Love Stockholm 2010, a two-week festival of music and culture.

“It’s a once in a lifetime thing. It’s so uplifting -- everyone’s talking about the wedding,” said Maggie Saliba, 24, who works at a dress shop in Stockholm.

“In a way, it’s become hip to get married. It’s created a buzz.”

Over the next couple of days, VIPs and royalty from around the world will fly into Stockholm’s Arlanda airport -- renamed the “Official Love Airport” for the wedding festivities.

The guest list is secret, but media report that King Harald of Norway, Queen Margrethe of Denmark and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, from Britain will be among those in Stockholm’s cathedral.

Thousands more will line the streets to cheer as the bridal pair are driven by horse-drawn carriage through the city before a royal barge takes them across the picturesque harbor to the palace and an evening banquet with the great and good from Sweden and around the world.

DOWN TO EARTH

Although Sweden’s capital is determined to shine for the wedding -- 40,000 roses, carnations, lilies and hydrangeas are being sent from Colombia -- the celebrations themselves are expected to be relatively restrained, as royal weddings go.

<p>Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria walks to her waiting car as she leaves Stockholm Cathedral in Gamla Stan, or the Old Town district of Stockholm June 16, 2010. REUTERS/Scanpix</p>

The country is just pulling out of the worst recession since World War Two and the King will pick up 10 million crowns ($1.39 million) of the wedding costs which are seen running at more double that amount.

But the conservative approach fits well in a country where the royal family keeps a low profile and where equality is a mantra.

The 32-year-old princess -- whose full name is Victoria Ingrid Alice Desiree, Crown Princess of Sweden and Duchess of Vastergotland -- is a good example of modern royalty.

<p>Members of the Royal Palace conduct the exchange of guards ceremony at the royal palace in Gamla Stan, or the Old Town district of Stockholm June 16, 2010. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch</p>

She took courses at Yale in the United States, has worked at the United Nations, completed basic military training and her choice of a commoner as a partner has endeared her to the nation.

“It will be exciting,” said Lennart Soderstrom, 61, a Swedish pensioner who will be out watching the procession in Stockholm’s Old Town. “He doesn’t come from royalty. He’s an ordinary person like you and me. It’s just great.”

The couple’s fairytale romance also offers a sharp contrast to the scandal-tainted antics that regularly dominate royal reporting in tabloid papers around the globe.

But while Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling have not attracted lurid headlines, the Swedish royal family has not escaped the paparazzi.

Victoria’s younger sister, Princess Madeleine, and her brother Prince Carl Philip have been under intense scrutiny recently.

Earlier this year, Princess Madeleine called off her engagement to lawyer Jonas Bergstrom after Norwegian media reports he had been unfaithful with a woman he met in a nightclub at a ski resort.

Sweden’s tabloids also point to a 26-year-old reality TV show star who has posed topless with a python as Prince Carl Philip’s current flame.

Editing by Paul Casciato

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