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Opinion: Sofia Hellqvist as Princess of Sweden

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On 27 June 2014, Prince Carl Philip (finally) introduced his fiancé Sofia Hellqvist to Sweden and the rest of the world. A year later, the couple married in a romantic ceremony in Stockholm at the Royal Chapel in Stockholm Palace. Now, the pair has been married for almost 1.5 years. Time for an evaluation of the new Princess of Sweden.

In 2010 news broke that “playboy” Prince Carl Philip had found himself a new girlfriend. She wasn’t just any other girl. She was known by the Swedish media and by many Swedes. Her name was Sofia Hellqvist. There was immediately a lot of commotion regarding the decision of the Prince. Their relationship made headlines since Sofia was a former glamour model and had done several half-naked bikini shoots. Furthermore, she starred in the Swedish reality show “Paradise Hotel”. It’s a show in which singles are living together in a house, and they film whatever happens. In 2004, she was also voted “Miss Slitz”. In short: she had a colourful past. I don’t think many people expected the relationship to be serious or to last. However in 2011, the Royal Court announced the couple were moving in together, and the rest is history.

The Swedish press has never been exactly kind to Sofia. There has been written a lot about the controversial girlfriend of Carl Philip. Ever single controversial thing she has done or said has been published and/or exaggerated. The least you can say is that they were not that fond of his new girlfriend. In addition, most of the Swedes themselves weren’t big fans of Sofia either. And I don’t think you can blame them for that.

People see the monarchy as something prestigious and mysterious. The monarchy has to represent the country and its citizens abroad. I think people sometimes see the royal family as a model family, as an example of how things should be. Ms Hellqvist didn’t really fit that picture, at the time.

I can imagine it must have been really tough for Sofia to be with Carl Philip. All of a sudden everyone had an opinion of her, which was mostly not a very positive one. She was judged for the things that she did, for the decisions she had made. The press wrote about her like they knew who she really was. It must have been a bumpy ride. However, five years later she married the love of her life, the one she had been fighting for. Once again all the stories about her past started to appear in the newspapers. Ten-year-old, not so flattering pictures of her were published once again. Until that moment, Sofia had never had the chance to introduce herself or tell something about herself to the public.

I think the biggest problem with the monarchies in Europe (and beyond) is the fact that democracy has nothing to do with it. People can’t choose the king, queen or any other members of the royal family. In fact, people have no say, no influence at all in who is going to be the head of state and represent the country. We have to trust our princes and princesses that they’ll choose the right person for the role. It’s a very old tradition that definitely has its charms but also raises questions at times. This applies in this case, as well. As stated before, some Swedes were not happy about Sofia becoming one of their country’s official representatives.

Much has changed since that time, at least in my opinion. The first time Sofia gave an actual interview was in “Året med Kungafamiljen 2014”. This is a television show about the Swedish Royal Family’s year. It was the very first time we could catch a glimpse of what kind of person she is. What I found very brave of her was that she started talking about her past in her very first interview.

She said, “A lot has been written over the years, not only following our engagement. For me it’s pretty boring, it happened ten years ago, and I’ve moved on with my life. But no regrets, experience shapes a person.” She didn’t apologise for anything, which she shouldn’t have to either because everyone makes their own decisions. They were made in the past.

Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia on their wedding day on 13 June 2015. Photo: Photo Mattias Edwall, The Royal Court, Sweden

Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia on their wedding day on 13 June 2015. Photo: Photo Mattias Edwall, The Royal Court, Sweden

Following their engagement in 2014, Princess Sofia immediately started working for the family. She accompanied Carl Philip on several official engagements, and after their wedding, she was able to do engagements on her own. I don’t think anyone could have expected how good she is at being a princess. First of all, she is very good with children. This didn’t come as a surprise, as she already had shown to be very close with Princess Estelle and Princess Leonore.

Whenever Sofia meets children, she immediately kneels down and starts talking to them and hugging them. On her very first official engagement as a princess, she and Carl Philip visited a project for children of refugees. She greeted the people of the project and then sat down to play peekaboo with one of the children. The kids seemed very relaxed around her, as well. Sofia is also very close to the people, as you can see on the walkabouts. She is genuinely interested in their stories.

In addition, she is also very competent at public speaking. Her first solo visit abroad was a couple of months after her wedding. She represented the King and Queen at the Global Child Forum (GCF) in South Africa. She gave an amazing speech on children rights and their well-being. I don’t like to make comparisons to other princesses of other royal families, but I don’t think you can name one that has picked up her role so well so soon after the wedding. Luckily for us, Sofia isn’t afraid to directly talk to the press either, but they must be careful as they can’t just ask away.

When asked about the Royal Family before the beginning of the GCF, she stated, “I’m not here to talk about my in-laws, but they follow the forum very closely.” And she continued talking about the topic of the forum. On many other occasions, Sofia has been talking to the press about several issues in the world and the topics of her visits. If you have a bunch of reporters and photographers following your every move, you might as well use them for the of the better cause.

Moreover, Sofia seems to fit in the family just fine. The King and Queen are very fond of her and have talked very warmly about her. Especially Estelle, Crown Princess Victoria’s daughter, seems to have a very good bond with her aunt. The press has previously written that Princess Madeleine wasn’t fond of her new sister-in-law, but when you see the pictures and little films of them together you know that’s not true at all. Above all, Sofia is a hardworking royal.

Next to her official engagements, she remains very active in her charity Project Playground and the Prince Couple’s Foundation. She kept working until just before the birth of Prince Alexander, as well. She already appeared in public just a couple of weeks after giving birth to her son. I believe Sweden can be proud to have Sofia as their princess. We definitely haven’t seen the last of the motivated princess.

What do you think of Princess Sofia’s job so far as Princess of Sweden? Let us know in the comments below!

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