It was a very modern take on a traditional event. Prince Carl Philip of Sweden married Sofia Hellqvist in a ceremony in Stockholm on June 13th that mixed old with new to produce a royal wedding like no other.
The setting was the Royal Chapel at the Royal Palace in the Swedish capital and crowds gathered outside from early on to catch a glimpse of proceedings. The marriage itself was scheduled for 4.30pm local time and from mid afternoon the royal guests began arriving. Among the guests were The Earl and Countess of Wessex, who were attending the wedding as representatives of The Queen.
After the King and Queen of Sweden had taken their seats in the church, the bridegroom made his entrance. Prince Carl Philip, third in line to his country’s throne, was accompanied by his best man, Jan-Ake Hansson, who has been a friend since his school days.
The bride came into the church on the arm of her father, Erik Hellqvist, to the strains of music by Enya and with four bridesmaids, including three year old Princess Estelle who is second in line to the Swedish throne. Prince Carl Philip had tears in his eyes as he walked towards his wife to be as she approached him, and the royal couple took the final few steps towards the altar by themselves.
This was very much a family wedding as well as a royal event with the groom’s sister, Crown Princess Victoria, and the bride’s sisters, Sara and Lina Hellqvist, all giving readings. The whole Swedish Royal Family took turns in entertaining Carl Philip’s youngest niece, sixteen month old Princess Leonore, who got a little bit restless as the wedding went on. Her mother, Princess Madeleine, is due to give birth to her second baby any day now.
While it had a traditional setting, this royal wedding was filled with special touches that belonged just to this royal couple. The rings they exchanged as they said their vows were designed by Prince Carl Philip but it was the music that really gave this ceremony a modern touch. Once joined in matrimony the couple turned round to face their guests while a version of ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay was sung which left one of their royal guests, Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, in tears.
Later, there was a special Swedish version of Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ and the couple left the Royal Chapel to a gospel version of ‘Joyful, Joyful’ based on Beethoven. In a real break with tradition, the guests were asked to clap along and the couple left for their reception with cheers ringing in their ears.
The new Princess Sofia of Sweden then joined her husband for a carriage ride through the streets of Stockholm where thousands were lining the route for a brief glimpse of the newlyweds. Back at the Royal Palace Prince Carl Philip briefly addressed the crowds before his father, King Carl XVI Gustaf, asked them to cheer for the couple. And of course there was another chance to see that very modern royal tradition – a kiss on the balcony.
The bride wore a dress by Swedish designer, Ida Sjostedt, made of white silk crepe and Italian silk organza. The fitted top featured lace shoulders and sleeves while the slim bodice fanned out into a full skirt trimmed with more lace and a rounded train. Her veil, with more lace trim, was fixed to the sleek updo her hair had been arranged into and she wore a diamond and emerald tiara given to her by the King and Queen of Sweden.
There was also a link to British royal history in her bridal bouquet. Among the cream and palest coral blooms were sprigs of myrtle from the Sofiero Palace in Helsingborg – all Swedish royal brides since the early 20th century have included that in their flowers. And like all those past bouquets, the myrtle for Sofia’s bridal arrangement was taken from a bush that has grown from a cutting brought to Sweden by Princess Margaret of Connaught, daughter of Queen Victoria’s third son Arthur, who married Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden at St George’s Chapel, Windsor in 1905. Margaret, who died before her husband became King of Sweden, is Prince Carl Philip’s great grandmother.
The reception took place in the White Sea Ballroom of the Royal Palace where guests enjoyed a starter of ‘Princess Sofia’ asparagus followed by langoustine and then pike perch. The meal was rounded off with a peach and raspberry tartlet. The wedding cake was as modern as the music with multiple tiers held on different stands and with lights shining from the centre of each of them.
There were speeches from both the bride and groom while King Carl XVI Gustaf spoke warmly of his son and told guests how happy he and Queen Silvia were to see their son marry in the Palace where he had been born in 1979. The king went on to welcome Princess Sofia to the Royal Family and paid tribute to Queen Silvia. He went on to tell his guests that he and his son had much in common as ‘we have each succeeded in finding the perfect, most fantastic woman to share our lives’.
Then it was time for dancing with the bride and groom starting with a waltz before their royal guests joined them. As the party progressed, The Earl and Countess of Wessex were spotted dancing round the floor and the celebrations were still going strong as midnight struck. However the chimes of the clock didn’t spell the end for this royal fairytale. This morning Europe has a new princess as Carl Philip and Sofia of Sweden begin their married lives together.
Photo credits: Mattias Edwall and Kungahuset.se