Princess Madeleine marries at storybook wedding in Stockholm

Royal watcher Patricia Treble reports on the celebration

(Soren Andersson/AP Photo)

Sweden’s Princess Madeleine married Anglo-American financier Chris O’Neill in a romantic ceremony today in Stockholm.

The road to the altar was hardly smooth for the 30-year-old known as Europe’s most beautiful princess. (Check out this picture gallery of Madeleine wearing tiaras.) In 2010 she fled to New York to escape the intense media interest on the continent that became white hot after her engagement to Jonas Bergstrom was called off after tabloids reported he’d cheated on her with a university student. One of the first changes she made was to change her blond hair colour to brunette. She shed her party girl reputation and undertook more serious causes, including working for the World Charitable Foundation, that her mother founded.

Two years later she met O’Neill, who is eight years older than the princess. Soon it was obvious they were in a serious relationship. Their engagement was announced last year in a simple video posted on the royal website. and that low-key approach is set to continue. As CBS reported:

O’Neill was born into a wealthy family. His late father, Paul O’Neill, set up the European head office of Oppenheimer & Co in London in the 1960s and his mother, Eva Maria O’Neill, is involved in several charities. He studied at a boarding school in St. Gallen, Switzerland, and holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Boston University and a master’s degree from Columbia Business School in New York.

O’Neill, who holds dual American and British citizenship, has declined a royal rank in Sweden which would have required him to become a Swedish citizen. He has chosen to continue working, and the newlyweds are expected to move back to the United States.

But that didn’t mean Madeleine would forego a full-blown royal wedding. Oh, no. While more relaxed than that of her older sister, Crown Princess Victoria, in 2010 shortly after Madeleine’s first engagement exploded, it combined personal touches, such as the song The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face  with a formal late afternoon white-tie dress code that saw virtually every royal woman, including a large contingent of European royals, wearing tiaras, long flowing gowns and ribands of the various royal orders. Even “ordinary” guests wore every diamond they could.

And in a break with royal tradition but in one that emphasizes that this is truly a family occasion, little 15-month-old Princess Estelle, attended the wedding. Her father carefully carried her up the winding staircase to the Royal Chapel, where she had her own tiny gilt chair between her parents. During the hymn Love’s Divine, All Loves Excelling, her grandmother, Queen Silvia, held her while swaying gently from side to side. At other times her uncle, Carl Philip, kept her entertained. The regally informal atmosphere was also marked by school children who lined the aisle, sweet pea wreaths on their heads, holding a long floral garland.

Madeline wore a spectacular lace Valentino gown with a four-metre train. (The designer’s sketch is here.) Her fringe tiara was held in place with orange blososms while her bouquet was a large ball of roses and myrtle, taken from a bush brought by Princess Margareta from England after she married Gustav VI Adolf in 1905. Her groom completely choked up upon seeing her for the first time.

Given O’Neill is still learning the difficult Swedish language, it was no surprise it was a mixed-language ceremony. O’Neill’s part in English, the princess’s in Swedish.

While blogs dissected the event, the fashions, and the crowds, in the end this was a wedding of two people. The  officiating  Lutheran pastor quoted the perfect passage from Corinthians: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

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