Sick Madeleine misses Nobel party

The world’s leading scientific brains are descending on Stockholm for the academic knees-up of the year. Millions of people in Sweden and around the world tune in to hear the world’s greatest scientists and economists speak. The Swedish press is, as usual, keen to help add to the sum of human knowledge by posing the really important questions, such as “which dress will Princess Madeleine choose to surprise us with?”

So it came as something of a shock to learn that the photogenic royal would not be putting in an appearance at Friday’s Nobel Prize events. Madeleine, the press was informed, was suffering from influenza, and was going to be tucked up in bed. She had been schedule to attend the prize giving ceremony in Stockholm’s Concert House and the banquet at Stockholm City Hall.

Still, DN informed us, those responsible for the seating plan at the evening’s banquet weren’t going to let Madeleine’s illness mess things up. They were determined to find the perfect replacement for the princess, a student of history of art and proud possessor of a ‘European Computer Driving Licence’.

What a stroke of luck, then, that Kerstin Fredga, professor of astrophysical space research, could step in to take her place. No doubt Expressen’s photographers were breathing a sigh of relief that a suitably academic subject had been found to occupy their front-page photo slot.

Other members of the royal family turned out in force. Readers of Dagens Nyheter, which usually considers itself above royal tittle-tattle, could have been forgiven for thinking they had picked up Hello! magazine or Svensk Damtidning. The paper noted that two years ago pictures of Madeleine in her dress were beamed across the world, but that this year, “we will never know what she might have worn.”

Still, the paper did find consolation elsewhere in the royal family. It revealed excitedly that Queen Silvia wore a “light green tulle dress, embroidered with pearls”, and that 91-year old Princess Lilian sported a creation in “coral red”.

In the absence of Madeleine, it was left to Crown Princess Victoria, sitting between the joint winners of the physics prize, Dr. David Gross and Professor David Politzer, to bring the glow of youth to the top table.

In a further blow for the press, the prizewinner who seemed set to provide some colour this year decided not to come. The winner of the literature prize, Elfriede Jelinek, doesn’t get out much, and decided not to attend the events in Stockholm.

Jelinek’s absence didn’t do much to bring down the catering costs. The prizewinners and royals are joined at the banquet by a further 1,300 guests. DN reported that the places were set with 7,000 pieces of china, 5,000 glasses, 10,000 pieces of cutlery and 470 metres of linen tablecloths.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen,