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ROYAL WEDDING

ROYALTY

Daniel ‘wasn’t sure of a yes’

Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria has announced her engagement to Daniel Westling, according to a statement from the Royal Court.

Daniel 'wasn't sure of a yes'

At a press conference at the palace on Tuesday afternoon, Victoria revealed only a few details about the marriage proposal.

“It was a beautiful day out at Drottningholm, in the outdoors — that was all that I wanted,” she said.

Westling, who said he kneeled for the question, admitted he was “a little nervous of course, and I was hoping for a ‘yes’ but I wasn’t entirely sure.”

The engagement of the princess, 31, was announced after Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt met King Carl XVI Gustaf at a council at Stockholm’s Royal Palace early on Tuesday afternoon.

The wedding will take place in the early summer of 2010.

Westling is to receive the title Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland.

The government must approve the marriages of senior royals, according to the constitution.

Both the King and the government have given their consent to the marriage. The government’s decision was formally handed over to the King at Tuesday’s council.

It has not yet been decided where the couple will make their home, according to the Royal Court.

The King and Queen Silvia joined the Crown Princess and the future Prince to comment on the engagement in a video clip on the Royal Court’s website. King Carl XVI Gustaf was visibly pleased as he announced the news.

“Dear Swedes, at home and abroad. Yes, this is how I tend to begin my speeches on radio and TV when there is something I wish to convey. And, as you may have guessed, there is something very special I would like to convey: namely, the public announcement today of the engagement of Crown Princess Victoria and Mr Daniel Westling,” said the King, while exchanging glances with his smiling daughter.

The King then went on to speak about the qualities of his future son-in-law.

“In the past years we have of course got to know Daniel and have understood that he is a young man who works hard and takes life seriously.

“That is why it is especially gratifying to extend you a welcome. It was with pleasure that I gave my consent and, in line with the constitution, accepted the consent of the government.

“It is of course a special day for us but it is also a special day for Sweden,” said the King.

Crown Princes Victoria said in the film that she was proud to represent Sweden but that it was easier with help from her fiancé.

“With Daniel by my side I feel secure. You have probaby noticed in recent years that I have seemed stronger and happier. And now the time has come to begin preparations for starting something of our own and creating a family,” sad Victoria, while looking at at her future husband.

Queen Silvia was full of praise for Westling.

“We welcome Daniel into our family with open arms. I view him as a man who is humble yet decisive, as well as judicious and wise. You are full of energy, considerate and will make a wonderful husband for Victoria.”

The Queen then turned to her daughter.

“We have full confidence in you and your choice, Victoria, and I will do everything to support you. A new chapter is now being written and I am very pleased,” she said.

Daniel Westling, who appeared moved by the occasion, looked straight into the camera and said:

“The Crown Princess and I have found each other and our love has grown strong over the years. I want to thank the King and I want to thank the Queen,” said the future Prince.

“It is my task to act as a support for the Crown Princess and the important work she does for Sweden.”

Shortly after the official announcement, Social Democratic party leader Mona Sahlin offered her congratulations to the couple.

“A big congratulations on this romantic day,” read a statement from Sahlin.

“I know that today’s news will be met with great joy by the entire Swedish people.”

The Crown Princess and Westling are to meet the press at the Royal Palace at 5pm.

According to newspaper Expressen, Reinfeldt visited Drottningholm Palace, the King’s main home, on Sunday. At the meeting the King reportedly told Reinfeldt that an engagement was in the offing. Usgaard would not confirm that such a visit had taken place.

Westling, 35, is a personal trainer and owns a central Stockholm gym chain, Balance Training. He was born in Örebro, central Sweden, and grew up in Ockelbo, a town of 6,500 people on the east coast of Sweden. He met Victoria in 2002.

ROYALTY

‘Alone and bored’: A year after exile, legal woes haunt Spain’s ex-king

A year after Spain's former King Juan Carlos went into self-imposed exile in the face of mounting questions over his finances, he remains under a cloud of suspicion that complicates his return home.

'Alone and bored': A year after exile, legal woes haunt Spain's ex-king
Juan Carlos I's close ties with Gulf leaders have allowed him to live in opulent exile in Abu Dhabi for a year. Photo: KARIM SAHIB / AFP

He announced on August 3, 2020 he was moving abroad to prevent his personal affairs from undermining his son King Felipe VI’s reign and sullying the monarchy.

But his choice of new home — the United Arab Emirates, where some of his business affairs triggered the scandals that tainted his reputation in the first place — only raised Spaniards’ eyebrows further.

Juan Carlos has told his son that he would like to return to Spain “but he won’t come back without the approval” of the royal household, said Jose Apezarena, the author of several books on Felipe.

And the position of the royals is that “until his legal problems end, he should not return”, Apezarena told AFP.

The 83-year-old former king is the target of three separate investigations over his financial dealings, including those linked to a high-speed rail contract in Saudi Arabia that was awarded to a Spanish consortium.

Prosecutors in Spain and Switzerland are looking into suspicions he received kickbacks for facilitating the deal.

The suspicions centre on $100 million (€85 million) that Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah allegedly deposited in 2008 into a Swiss bank account to which Juan Carlos had access.

The other two investigations concern the alleged existence of a trust fund in Jersey linked to Juan Carlos and the undeclared use of credit cards linked to accounts not registered in his name, a possible money-laundering offence.

‘Very bored’

Spanish monarchs have immunity during their reign but Juan Carlos abdicated in 2014 following a series of health problems and embarrassing revelations about his personal life, leaving himself vulnerable to prosecution.

While he has not been charged with any crime, the probes have tainted his reputation as a leader of Spain’s democratic transition following the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

Outside of the Royal Palace in central Madrid, opinions were divided.

“He is being judged without any evidence, he should be able to come home if that’s what he wants,” said Pura Fernandez, 46, a bank worker.

But delivery rider Angel Galan, 27, was less sympathetic.

“He may have done some great things for Spain but if he committed irregularities I am not sad that he is gone,” he said.

While in exile, Juan Carlos has twice settled tax debts with Spanish authorities for a total of more than €5 million.

But he has otherwise kept a low profile at the villa on the island of Nurai off the coast of Abu Dhabi where he now lives.

“He is alone and very bored,” said Apezarena.

Photo: KARIM SAHIB / AFP

‘Not normal’

When reports emerged in February that Juan Carlos was in poor heath, the former monarch told online Spanish daily OKDiario he was “well, exercising two hours daily” in his only comments to the media since moving abroad.

Abel Hernández, a journalist and expert on the monarchy, said he believes Juan Carlos will return to Spain by the end of the year.

“He has not been charged with anything and has regularised his situation with the tax office. It does not seem normal that he remains outside of the country,” Hernández told AFP.

The scandals swirling around Juan Carlos have provided ammunition for those wanting to abolish the monarchy.

The far-left party Podemos, which is the junior partner in Spain’s coalition government, has called for a parliamentary investigation into Juan Carlos’s wealth.

Felipe, meanwhile, has sought to distance himself from his father.

Last year the king renounced his inheritance from Juan Carlos, and stripped the ex-monarch of his palace allowance after new details of his allegedly shady dealings emerged.

Polls show support for the monarchy has inched up since Juan Carlos moved abroad although a survey published Sunday in conservative daily La Razon found 42.9 percent of Spaniards feel Juan Carlos’s legal woes were hurting Felipe’s reign.

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