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Chris O’Neill: how Princess Madeleine’s husband created his own role among Sweden’s royals


EWA-MARIE RUNDQUIST/KUNGAHUSET.SE

On his birthday, Royal Central is taking a look at Christopher O’Neill – the American-British husband of Princess Madeleine of Sweden.

Early life

On 27 June 1974, Christopher Paul O’Neill was born in London as the son of Paul O’Neill and Eva Maria O’Neill (née Walter). His father was an American investment banker who moved to London for his work. His mother, Eva, is a German philanthropist involved in many charities related to cultural preservation.

While Christopher remained the only child Paul and Eva O’Neill had together, he grew up in a house full of strong women, as he would later describe his five half-sisters. On his mother’s side, he has two half-sisters named Tatjana d’Abo and Natascha von Abensberg und Traun. His half-sisters on his father’s side are named Karen, Annalisa and Stephanie O’Neill. In an interview with King Magazine, he said about his sisters: “I grew up with them (Tatjana and Natascha) and would never regard them as anything other than full sisters, while my other three sisters, with whom I also have close relationships, have always lived in another country even though we have seen each other on weekends and holidays.”

From a very young age, Chris travelled around the world. He has dual citizenship (British – American) and grew up in London (UK), St. Gallen (Switzerland), and Boston and New York (USA). He studied International Relations and Business Administration and obtained an MBA degree from Columbia Business School.

After his studies, he worked as a businessman in the investment and financial sector in Europe, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and the USA. He likes to participate in many sports such as tennis and golf in his free time, and he loves the outdoors. He is also a great supporter of the Chelsea Football Club and watches Formula 1 on the television. His other hobbies include music (rock ‘n roll, dance music) and reading literature.

Princess Madeleine

Chris O’Neill met Princess Madeleine while they were both living in London. After she broke off her engagement to her boyfriend of eight years, Jonas Bergstrom, in 2010, the Swedish Princess moved to New York to start a new chapter in her life. In the USA, Madeleine was given a chance to have a ‘normal’, more private life. Madeleine and Chris met through mutual friends soon after she moved to New York. At first, they developed a close friendship which later grew into a great romance.

Chris and Madeleine were able to develop their relationship in private until a Spanish tourist photographed them together at a restaurant in New York in 2011 and sold the photos to a Swedish newspaper. The first official engagement that Chris O’Neill attended as the boyfriend of Princess Madeleine was the christening of her niece, Princess Estelle. Later that year, Chris O’Neill proposed to Princess Madeleine after obtaining permission from her father, the King of Sweden. On the 25th of October 2012, the engagement was officially announced in a video posted on the Royal Family’s website. In the video, Chris stated: “Madeleine and I have known each other for the past two years. Recently I summoned up the courage to ask her to marry me. Thankfully she said yes.”

The date of their wedding was set for the 8th of June 2013. Christopher O’Neill and Princess Madeleine of Sweden exchanged their vows at the Royal Chapel of the Royal Palace in Stockholm on a sunny day. The wedding ceremony was held in English and Swedish and was followed by a traditional carriage ride through the old city centre of Stockholm. Despite the tremendous media attention, Madeleine and Chris decided not to broadcast their wedding reception. They held their reception and feast at Drottningholm Palace, where Madeleine was born and raised. Madeleine’s siblings, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Carl Philip, did allow their receptions to be shown on television.

After the wedding, Chris O’Neill did not receive any royal titles, and he kept his dual, British-American citizenship. The Royal Palace announced that Christopher had respectfully denied any titles so he could remain a private citizen and continue his job in the business sector. Upon his marriage, he did receive the Swedish honour of “Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star” from his father-in-law, King Carl XVI Gustaf.

Father of three

Three months after the wedding, the Swedish Royal Court announced that Princess Madeleine and Chris were expecting their first child. On the 20th of February 2014, their daughter, Princess Leonore Lilian Maria of Sweden, Duchess of Gotland, was born in New York City. Princess Leonore was baptised on 8 June 2014 at the Royal Chapel of Drottningholm Palace.

On 15 June 2015, only two days after the wedding of her brother Prince Carl Philip, Princess Madeleine gave birth to the couple’s second child, Prince Nicolas Paul Gustaf, Duke of Ångermanland. Prince Nicolas was born at the Danderyd Hospital in Stockholm. Since February 2015, the family had relocated from New York to Stockholm. Their son Nicolas was christened at the Royal Chapel of Drottningholm Palace on 11 October 2015. In the Autumn of 2015, the family of four moved to London.

On 9 March 2018, Chris and Madeleine welcomed their youngest child, Princess Adrienne Josephine Alice, Duchess of Blekinge. Even though the family lived in London, Princess Madeleine travelled to Sweden to give birth to her daughter at the Danderyd Hospital in Stockholm. On 8 June 2018, five years after her parents’ wedding, Princess Adrienne was baptised at the Royal Chapel of Drottningholm Palace.

In October 2019, it was announced that the three children of Princess Madeleine and Chris O’Neill would no longer hold the title of “Her/His Royal Highness” and that they were no longer part of the official Royal House. In reality, that means they will have no official royal role and will not be expected to carry out any of the duties associated with the Head of State.

In August 2018, the family of Chris and Madeleine moved to Florida (USA), where they are still living at the moment. About fatherhood, Chris said: “I try to be a present father. It is not always easy because we have two very energetic children who, on top of everything, are very close to each other in age, and now with a third on the way (back in 2018). I am a completely different person today than I was a few years ago, which is entirely to the credit of our children.”

Official role

As Christopher does not have a royal title and is not a member of the Royal House, he does not have an official role in Sweden. However, he often accompanies his wife on official duties. There are generally three moments in the royal year that Chris has written in his agenda. He often attends the National Day on 6 June, the birthday celebrations of Crown Princess Victoria on 14 July and the Nobel Prize Gala on 10 December. As he has a full-time job, he is not always able to clear his schedule for these events. Chris O’Neill currently works in Florida for his own company, Wilton Payments.

About author

Laura is from Belgium and has a passion for all things royal. She is Europe Correspondent for Royal Central since October 2016 and has contributed to other news websites. In her daily life she is a fulltime student in EU-politics and political communication.