Finishing touches put on Daniel and Victoria’s big day

Saturday's Royal Wedding will represent the culmination of more than a year of hard work and planning by the Royal Court - and months of preparation will come to a head, writes The Local's royal correspondent Juan Navas

Finishing touches put on Daniel and Victoria's big day

In just a few short days Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling will finally say ”I do”.

Friend or foe of the Royal Wedding, there is no way of missing that something big is about to take place in Stockholm. From celebrations in the city centre to buildings decorated with banners and portraits of the Crown Princess Couple – wedding fever has hit the Swedish capital.

Though interest for hotel rooms in the city has not meet previous expectations, some 200,000 people are expected to line the streets on June 19 and according to the Swedish Trade Federation the event could bring up to 2.5 billion kronor in extra revenue.

The Royal Wedding will be the grand finale to months of intense media coverage, speculation, PR and marketing campaigns – and debates about the monarchy. The 19th of June will also be the culmination of months of preparation, and coordination, by thousands of participants.

The main organizer of all this, the Swedish Royal Court, has pumped resources and thousands of man hours into planning the wedding and the other events leading up to it.

Under the leadership of wedding coordinator Håkan Pettersson, the entire organization has been involved. Everyone from the Royal Family’s household offices, to the press and information department, to the Royal Mews and the Ceremonial Household have been busy getting ready for the big day. The Royal Collections have also occupied with getting the Royal Palace into tip-top shape. No detail is too minute.

“The Palace is like an anthill – so many people are busy doing everything from laying the tables to preparing the flowers,” is how Palace spokeswoman Nina Eldh put it on Thursday.

Helping the Royal Court with many of the practicalities surrounding the Royal Wedding have been Sweden’s government offices, in particular the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Ministry will be helping the some 2,300 accredited journalists who will be covering the event, of which 700 are foreign.

The City of Stockholm, Sweden’s military forces as well as the police are also very involved. Medical teams, both for wedding guests and onlookers on the streets, will also be in place. It is a giant undertaking not seen since King Carl XVI Gustaf married Silvia Renate Sommerlath in 1976. The total cost of the Royal Wedding is estimated to be some 20 million Swedish Kronor, approximately $2.5 million. The Swedish Government will be picking up half the tab, while the remaining sum will be paid by the King.

The planning of the Royal Wedding has also involved, and benefited, many private companies. Amongst others an agency was brought in to create a visual profile for the Royal Wedding. The purpose was to give the event a unified look. This visual profile also inspired the official products currently on sale. Merchandise from the official Royal Wedding series, which benefits the Crown Princess Couple’s new foundation, can be seen all around the country. More than 15 companies have produced products ranging from cakes to porcelain, to glass and chocolate.

The Crown Princess Couple’s Foundation, which according to the Royal Court aims at promoting “good health and combat exclusion among children and young people in Sweden”, will receive a percentage of the income from the merchandise sold. There is also the involvement of the many purveyors to the Royal Wedding offering their services for the wedding banquet.

The Royal Wedding is a unique occasion: first, it is an official function and a matter of state. It is after all Sweden’s future head of state walking down the aisle. Secondly it is an intimate affair between two people about to start a new life together. Last, but not least, it is also a celebration for the people to take part in and enjoy.

Since the last Stockholm Water Festival in 1999 there have been few occasions for people to gather in the streets and celebrate. Together with Love Stockholm, the Royal Wedding is an opportunity for Stockholmers and tourists alike, young or old, royalist or republican, to go out and have a good time in the spirit of fun, love and community.

Even Sweden’s republicans are joining in on the festivities, albeit in their own way. The Swedish Republican Association is arranging an alternative for those who are opposed to the monarchy but still want to celebrate the theme of love on June 19th. They are calling their event “Love Republic”. The palace has taken the republican challenge in its stride, with Nina Eldh saying:

“It has generated interest in history, and nourished a discussion on the monarchy and constitution, which is good in a democracy.”

Yet the hope and expectation on Saturday will be for the festivities to strengthen the monarchy’s standing among the Swedish people – and to project a positive image of Sweden abroad.

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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

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