King leads the singing on Victoria’s birthday

A thousand well-wishers gathered at the royal family's summer estate on Thursday to wish Crown Princess Victoria happy birthday as she turned 28.

What started as a spontaneous public celebration has in just a few years become a Swedish tradition, with a meet-and-greet preceding the award of the Victoria Stipendium and an evening concert.

But this year’s celebration began in a more sombre mood, with two minutes’ silence in memory of the victims of the London bombings a week ago.

The Crown Princess wore a light green summer dress and, before long, a crown of Swedish summer flowers. The crowd had been gathering in glorious sunshine all morning and at about 2pm they were rewarded as Victoria began her walk around the garden of the estate.

She was flanked by her mother, Queen Silvia, and her father, King Carl Gustav – who ordered the band to strike up a rendition of ‘Ja må hon leva’, the Swedish birthday song and led the chorus of four hurrahs at the end.

As the walkabout began, children were thrust forward to meet the Crown Princess and in turn they thrust flowers forward into her arms.

Victoria accepted the gifts gratefully before heading off to dish out a couple of rather more valuable presents: 25,000 kronor to this year’s winners of the Victoria Stipendium, Olympic gold medallists Christian Olsson and Stefan Holm.

The athletes join a list of sporting luminaries including Ingemar Stenmark, Thomas Brolin, J-O Waldner and Carolina Klüft. Olsson and Holm said what fun it was to share the prize, and then promptly gave the lot to Victoria’s own fund for disabled children.

The celebrations concluded as usual with an early-evening televised birthday concert at the Borgholm sports ground.

Helena Paparizou, the Swede who won this year’s Eurovision Song Contest for Greece, and Martin Stenmarck, the Swede who didn’t win this year’s Eurovision Song Contest for Sweden, provided the music with a bunch of other homegrown songsters, while Joe Labero performed a few magic tricks.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen