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Royal birthday overshadowed by engagement controversy

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Royal birthday overshadowed by engagement controversy
10:03 CEST+02:00
Crown princess Victoria celebrates her 31st birthday on Monday amid a whirl of rumours over an impending engagement to her boyfriend, Daniel Westling, 34.

Crown Princess Victoria will celebrate in traditional fashion near the royal residence of Solliden on the island of Öland on Monday.

The royal family will arrive as normal at a nearby football pitch this afternoon to greet and join several hundred of the King's subjects in a chorus of "The King's Song" to help Victoria celebrate her birthday.

Engagement rumours are meanwhile closely following the couple.

A controversy has this year overshadowed the build up to Victoria's birthday over current laws which dictate that the princess must seek permission from her father, the King, to tie the knot to her long standing boyfriend, gym-owner Daniel Westling.

National newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) has devoted its leader article on Monday to criticizing the current law calling for Victoria to be "freed" and describing the law as old-fashioned and symptomatic of the continued oppression of women.

The newspaper calls also for Victoria to be allowed to try out daily life in co-habitation with her boyfriend before any decision is taken to get married.

Crown Princess Victoria's boyfriend is prevented under current rules from participating in official engagements until an engagement is announced. DN adds that if an engagement were to happen then Westling may be prevented from earning a living if his current occupation is not considered suitable to his assumed station. In contravention of the principles of equality before the law, Dagens Nyheter argues.

There are some benefits to becoming a member of the Royal Court however. The sovereign is, for example, immune from all form of judicial proceedings.

Engagement rumours have surrounded the couple since it emerged in October 2007 that Sweden's foreign ministry had requested extra funds for a "wedding in the Royal Court" in its budget for 2008. The Royal Court did all it could at the time to play down the rumours but has, it seems, had little success.

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