A squally day day in early summer, but the showers stayed away from Stockholm, and by evening the sky was clear. Together with millions of other Swedes we sat glued to the TV to watch the much anticipated wedding yesterday of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling in the cathedral in the Old Town of Stockholm. I couldn’t help comparing it with the last royal wedding I watched, in 1982 I think, of Diana and Charles. Charles will be (perhaps) the king of Great Britain, and by default of Australia (if a republic has not been declared before that day). Victoria will be the queen of Sweden, but there are no former colonies around the world who will accept her as their queen. According to the Sydney Morning Herald this morning only 46 percent of Swedes support the monarchy with 25 percent now opposed according to a recent poll. But despite that royal wedding fever has mounted since the announcement about 4 months ago. And yesterday even an expatriate Australian like me felt the excitement, and was irritated by all the cynical comments that have been tossed back and forth over recent months.
We can’t help thinking that Victoria is a genuinely nice girl. Well hardly a girl. She is 32 already, and a woman of substance. Diana was really just a girl when she got married, 21 as I remember it. She became a woman of substance but her loveless marriage to Charles ended, as we all know so well, in tragedy, and the world lost a valuable individual too early. Of course, watching the wedding back in 1982 when I was a university student in Sydney, none of us had any idea that Charles could be anything less than completely enchanted in the beautiful Diana. But perhaps we were carried away by the fairy tale romance and didn’t think much about whether they were really a good match. As often happens in weddings.
Yesterday, by contrast, we got a very strong sense that here were two people who were genuinely in love with each other. Victoria was stunning and the centre of attention. The church service was beautiful, the front rows filled with visiting European royalty and other dignitaries (including Mary, Princess of Denmark, Australia’s own princess), along with Daniel’s mum and dad. Daniel was a commoner until yesterday, now he is the Duke of Västergötland. He was born in our town, Örebro, strangely enough in our suburb, Brickebacken. Now he is a noble, by virtue of his marriage. His toast to the bride, late last night at the reception, was extraordinary. He spoke confidently, openly speaking of his love and respect for his wife, the future queen. He used no notes, never hesitated, and did not look in the least nervous. Victoria just sat there smiling up at him.
Oddly enough there appears to have been a bit of a media row over rights to show pictures and video of the wedding ceremony, so that even though we here in Sweden saw the whole thing, other countries have had to be satisfied with a few photos and the printed word. Though this was a disappointment to many, I felt somehow glad about this. The media seemed to have played a part in Diana’s demise. Perhaps the inability of the media to use these images and video bodes for a better outcome to this fairytale wedding than that of Diana and Charles so many years ago.