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ROYAL WEDDING

STOCKHOLM SECTION

Big royal turnout expected for wedding

Sweden’s royal wedding is set to attract one of largest gathering of kings and queens seen in Europe for years, a guest list for Friday’s pre-wedding concert has revealed.

Big royal turnout expected for wedding

The guest list for the wedding itself is a closely-guarded secret, but the foreign royals and heads of state attending the concert are thought certain to also attend the wedding.

The list confirms speculation that Prince Carl Philip’s ex-girlfriend, Emma Pernald, will attend. Princess Madeleine’s former fiancé Jonas Bergström, from whom she split after allegations of infidelity, did not make the guest list.

Among those who have accepted invitations to the concert are six monarchs, including Sweden’s own king, two former monarchs and two presidents. The concert, at the Stockholm Concert Hall, is being hosted by the Riksdag, Sweden’s parliament. The hall is best known as being the location of the annual Nobel Prize ceremony.

All Sweden’s Nordic neighbours are represented at the concert by their heads of state. Denmark’s Queen Margarethe and husband Prince Henrik are coming along with Crown Prince Fredrik and his Australian-born wife Crown Princess Mary. Norway’s King Harald and Queen Sonja will be joined by Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Princess Märtha-Louise and her husband Ari Behn.

Finnish President Tarja Halonen and husband Pentti Arajärvi will be there, as will Iceland’s President Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson, with wife Dorrit Moussaieff.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands is another head of state attending, along with her heir Prince Willem-Alexander and Argentinian-born wife Princess Máxima.

Europe’s smaller countries are also represented, with Luxembourg’s Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa slated to attend. The Grand Duke is a relative of the king – his grandmother was Swedish Princess Astrid. Adding some Mediterranean glamour will be Prince Albert of Monaco, who is accompanied by his girlfriend, South African swimmer Charlene Wittstock.

Former monarchs heading to Stockholm include ex-King Simeon and Queen Margarita of Bulgaria and ex-King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece.

They will be joined by Prince Felipe, the heir to Spain’s throne, Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex from Britain and Prince Alois, the heir to the throne of Liechtenstein. One of the more remarkable guests is Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan.

King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan will not attend the concert, but the Jordan News Agency has confirmed that they plan to come to the wedding.

The list of Swedish guests includes a large turn-out from the Swedish royal family, with the kings three sisters Princesses Margaretha, Birgitta and Christina making a rare appearance together. Both King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia will be there, along with Princess Madeleine and Prince Carl Philip.

Non-royal guests include most members of the government and Riksdag. Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt will be there with wife Filippa, as will Social Democrat leader Mona Sahlin with husband Bo. Left Party leader Lars Ohly, who said he turned down an invitation to the wedding on principle – he is a republican – is not attending the concert.

From the media world, the editors of most of Stockholm’s large daily newspapers will be there, as will a number of prominent businesspeople. Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg is attending, as is Annika Falkengren, CEO of SEB bank.

While the concert guest list is a guide to the likely guest list on Saturday, it is thought that further high-profile guests will be at the church on the big day.

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SPORT

Stockholm Open set to serve up a storm

The ATP Stockholm Open hits the Swedish capital on Saturday with international players vying for a piece of the €530,000 ($718,000) pie. Will it be a local Swede who takes out this year's title? The Local chats to the tournament organizer to find out more.

Stockholm Open set to serve up a storm

“All the sponsors, players and organizers are getting ready, I’m really excited,” tournament spokesman Christian Ahlqvist told The Local over the phone, with the sound of tennis balls thwacking around in the background.

Held inside Stockholm’s Royal Tennis Hall, the tournament has been played every year since 1969, attracting some of the biggest tennis names in Sweden and the world.

“All the big Swedish players have played in the Stockholm Open, Björn Borg, Mats Wilander. Former world number one Roger Federer won the title in 2010. We’ve had some really great players, its always been one of the tournaments to play in,” explained Ahlqvist.

IN PICTURES: See Swedish tennis legend Björn Borg’s career in pictures

Headlining this year’s contingent is Spanish world number four David Ferrer who is tipped to take home the trophy.

“Ferrer is coming from Shanghai, he’s a great player and he’s always performed very well here,” said Ahlqvist.

But if you thought it was a one horse race, think again. Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and Polish giant Jerzy Janowicz (who is over two metres tall), both 22, are two young players looking to challenge Ferrer and show the tennis world that they belong at the top.

However the odds are against Sweden netting the championship. World number 444 Markus Eriksson is the only confirmed Swedish player so far, although more may find their way through in Friday’s final qualifications. But statistically, the odds aren’t historically in the Swedes’ favour, with the last winner, Thomas Johansson, in 2004.

A strong Swedish presence in the singles may be lacking, but the Swedish men are expected to do better in the doubles.

“Jonas Björkman is making a comeback in the doubles with one of the best doubles players in the world, Robert Lindstedt. So that will be interesting to see,” said Ahlqvist.

As for a tip for the winner, Ahlqvist likes world number 41 Jarkko Nieminen from Finland.

“Jarko is someone who’s been a bit on and off the court with injuries. He’s played here so many times before, he’s almost a Swede. Everyone would love to see him win one.”

Saturday marks the opening ceremony for the Open, which will be held on centre court and is free for everyone. The tournament begins on the same day, with the final scheduled for Sunday the 19th.

Josh Liew

Follow Josh on Twitter here

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