Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My Obsession with the Swedish Royal Family and their Gowns (by Asa Maria Bradley)

Happy 2017! Hope you've had a great start on this new year. For this post though, I'm going to rewind to exactly a month ago: December 10th. That's the day when the Nobel Prize is awarded each year. As much as I'm always interested in who gets the prize in Physics (I teach this topic at college level for my day job) and Literature (Bob Dylan for 2016!), my true pleasure in keeping watch of the event is the amazing dresses the guests wear for the big party after the ceremony. Especially the dresses of the royal family.

The Swedish royal family attracts a lot less international attention than their UK peers, but they rule the tabloids in their native country and never more so than when they are all gussied up for an official event or wedding. In case you are not up to date with the Swedish royal house, here's a quick tour of the female members of the family and the outfits they wore to the 2016 Nobel Prize evening festivities.

Let's start with Sweden's future queen, Crown Princess Victoria Ingrid Alice Désirée. When she was born, only male heirs could inherit the throne. But three years later, the law was rewritten and a very cute toddler version of Victoria became Sweden's official Crown Princess. She's studied both in France and at Yale here in the States, but she started her academic career in regular public school. Her mother was a fairly new queen when Victoria was born and her decision to have the young princess attend regular school won the hearts of the Swedish people. Her daddy the King also charmed his subjects by asking photographers to not take pictures of the young queen because he thought they would scare her. To keep the paparazzis away, he instead promised all the tabloids pictures that he himself took and then donated the proceeds of the images to charity.

The Crown Princess now has her own family. She married a regular man of the people in 2010. Her groom used to be her personal trainer.

This is Crown Princess Victoria's sister-in-law, Princess Sofia Kristina Hellqvist Bernadotte. Note that she's using a double last name, she kept her maiden name, which I absolutely love. Millions of women had their hearts broken when Sofia married Prince Carl-Philip in 2015. To see why, do a Google image search on Swedish Prince Carl-Philip. Not only is he a real prince, he's a very good-looking prince. (I'll warn you in advance of the shirtless pictures of him on the beach. You may not want to put those on your screen while at work. ;-) )

Princess Sofia used to be a model, has been in a reality TV show, and spent many years doing volunteer work in Ghana. In addition to her princess duties and being a new mom, she is the co-founder of a non-profit organization who works with disadvantage youth in Cape Town, South Africa.

One of my favorite stories about Princess Sofia has to do with her many tattoos. The Swedish court asked her to remove them, or at least cover them up for the royal wedding. She chose a gown that covered most of them, but rebelled a little by choosing a neckline that allowed a glimpse of the tattoo she has on the back of her neck.

Princess Madeleine Thérèse Amelie Josephine is Victoria and Carl-Philip's little sister. She studied in London, loves riding horses, and works for the World Childhood Foundation that was founded in 1999 by her mom, the queen.

The tabloids used to love the youngest princess. She had a reputation as a party girl and was a frequent visitor at some of the glitziest nightclubs in Stockholm and around the world. Often together with her lawyer boyfriend who came from one of Sweden's upperclass families. The couple had a very stormy relationship for eight years until a Norwegian tabloid exposed that the boyfriend had a one-night stand with a one of that country's former handball stars. (I'm not making this up!) Madeline at first forgave her boyfriend, but when it became clear that he had had many other affairs--including getting one of his coworkers pregnant--she called off the engagement.

She's now married to an investment banker who has dual British and American citizenship. I especially admire the guy because he decided to keep his job and his foreign citizenships at the expense of becoming a Swedish prince. (According to Swedish law, you have to be a Swedish citizen and not work in industry in order to be a royal.)

Last, but not least, here is the matriarch of the Swedish Royal House.  Queen Silvia Renate was born a regular person in Germany, to a German father and a Brazilian mother. She holds the record as Sweden's longest serving queen, a title she gained when she married King Carl Gustaf XVI in 1976. The couple met during the 1972 Olympic Games where Sylvia worked as an interpreter. The queen speaks 7 languages fluently.

At age 27, year after he'd met Silvia, Carl Gustaf inherited the throne after his grandfather's death. (His dad died when he was only 1 year old.) When Carl Gustaf and Silvia wed, it was the first marriage of a reigning Swedish monarch since 1797. If they had married during the reign of Carl Gustaf's grandfather, the young prince would have lost his position as heir-apparent to the Swedish throne. His grandfather believed that royalty must marry royalty. (Romantic side note: Carl Gustaf's uncle, Prince Bertil, did not marry until after the older king's death on purpose. Bertil was second-in-line to the throne until his nephew produced an heir, and was therefore unable to marry the Welsh commoner with whom he had been in love for decades.)

And speaking of royal weddings, here is a picture of the most current Swedish one: Prince Carl-Philip and Princess Sofia's wedding in 2015.
(See how I managed to work in a picture of the prince after all? ;-) )

Asa Maria Bradley grew up in Sweden surrounded by archaeology and history steeped in Norse mythology, which inspired the immortal Vikings and Valkyries in her paranormal romances. She came to the US as a high school exchange student and quickly fell in love with ranch dressing and crime TV series. Asa currently resides on a lake deep in the pine forests of the Pacific Northwest with a British husband and a rescue dog of indeterminate breed. Booklist has attributed her writing with “nonstop action, satisfying romantic encounters, and intriguing world building.” Her debut book, Viking Warrior Rising, was a 2016 double RITA® finalist and her  most recent release, Viking Warrior Rebel, received Top Pick! status by Romantic Times Book Reviews, which described the book as “filled with action and passion from the first page until the last.”
Visit her at www.AsaMariaBradley.com, follow her on Twitter @AsaMariaBradley, or connect with her on www.facebook.com/AsaMariaBradley.Author.


  1. Hi Asa. I love this! I'm obsessed with Swedish royal gowns but from the 16th/17th century. I have a several pictures of the wide panniered gowns woven with real silver thread. I'm glad you had a nice visit home. I hope all is well there. Happy New Year! Gina

    1. You should come home with me on one of my visits and we could see the historical royal costumes at one of the museums! :-)