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Swedish ex-glamour model becomes princess with wedding to Prince Carl Philip
Prince Edward and Countess of Wessex guests as Sofia Hellqvist, a 30-year-old commoner, marries prince who is third in line to the throne in lavish Stockholm wedding
Prince Edward and Countess of Wessex arrive (Reuters)
Sweden's Princess Madeleine, her husband Christopher O'Neill and Princess Leonore arrive for the wedding (AFP)
The guests were drawn from the second rank of Europe’s royal families, notably Crown Prince Fredrik of Denmark and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway. The House of Windsor was represented by the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
Prince Carl Philip, 36, is the second child of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Silvia. His 30-year-old wife - now Princess Sofia - is a commoner without a drop of blue blood and an unusually racy background by the standards of royal brides.
Queen Sonja of Norway, left to right, Queen Margarethe of Denmark and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands (Rex/AFP)
As Sofia Hellqvist, she took part in a Swedish reality TV show called “Paradise Hotel” in 2005.
This placed an array of men and women in a luxury resort, where they tried to avoid being voted off by engaging in various pranks and intrigues, while also becoming progressively more scantily clad.
Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and Sweden's Prince Daniel (AFP)
The previous year, Miss Hellqvist, then aged 20, had posed topless with a boa constrictor for the men’s magazine “Slitz”.
As a glamour model, she won so many hearts among the readers of this publication that they made her “Miss Slitz 2004”. Until she became a Princess of Sweden on Saturday, this was her only previous title.
Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist (Rex)
Inevitably, the Swedish media have published the photos of Princess Sofia in various states of undress, but these have not caused any great controversy.
“It’s a shame there’s still so much written about that,” she told Swedish Television in January. “It was 10 years ago, I’ve gotten on with my life since then,” she said. “I don’t regret anything. All these experiences have made me the person I am. I wouldn’t have made those choices today.”
Sofia Hellqvist during a photoshoot (GoffPhotos.com)
Thanks to the photos, Swedes have learnt that Princess Sofia possesses a pierced navel and a few discreetly elegant tattoos.
Prince Carl Philip and his new wife are keen to project an image of themselves as modern and open. They are often seen running errands in Stockholm or buying pizza in fast food restaurants.
Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Sweden's Queen Silvia (AFP)
In the past, royal weddings were “a way of building power alliances”, but today “they’re a way of uniting the monarchy with the people”, said Louise Berglund, a Swedish historian, according to TT, Sweden's only national news wire service.
Raised in a middle class family in the small town of Alvdalen, Miss Hellqvist left Sweden for New York in 2005, where she studied accounting and worked variously as a yoga teacher and waitress. “I can say I have lived my life to the fullest,” she said in the documentary.
She then served as a volunteer aid worker in several African countries. In 2010, she co-founded “Project Playground”, a charity designed to help disadvantaged children in South Africa.
She left this organisation in March to focus on her new duties as princess, the title she received on her marriage on Saturday.