Swedes falling out of love with monarchy

Support for Sweden's monarchy has dipped below 50 percent while a quarter if the population is opposed to the institution, according to a poll published a day before Crown Princess Victoria's wedding.

Since 1996, the number of Swedes who consider the monarchy a good thing has dropped from 70 percent to 46 percent, the FSI poll published in the Dagens Nyheter daily showed.

At the same time, the number of Swedes saying they think the monarchy is a bad thing has soared from just 10 percent 15 years ago to 25 percent today, according to the poll of 1,800 people aged 18 to 79 conducted in March and April.

The royal family itself has seen its support dwindle from 69 percent in 1996 to just 40 percent today, the same poll indicated, while the number of Swedes disliking the royals shot up from 13 percent to 28 percent.

“It is probable that the increased scandal coverage in magazines and tabloids has led to the increase in negative attitudes,” FSI opinion analyst Joachim Timander told Dagens Nyheter.

“That would explain why support for the royal family, that is mainly to say the family members themselves, is declining faster than support for the monarchy as an institution,” he added.

Sweden’s future queen, Crown Princess Victoria, 32, is to marry her former personal trainer, 36-year-old Daniel Westling, on Saturday in one of the largest public celebrations ever organised in Sweden.

Around 6,000 troops and 2,000 police will patrol the streets and secure the 6.8-kilometre processional route through Stockholm city centre following the ceremony as tens of thousands of Swedes and foreigners look on.

A wedding banquet will follow at the royal palace, with around 500 guests including many of the world’s royals, from Jordan’s King Abdullah to Japan’s heir to the throne and a slew of Scandinavian majesties.

But the royal fever predicted in the run-up to the wedding has only partially happened, and the blanket coverage also appears to have fueled anti-monarchy sentiments.

Sweden’s Republican Association says its membership has more than doubled to more than 6,000 since the couple’s engagement was announced in February 2009.

“There is a risk of oversaturation of all the scandal and party reporting,” Timander said.

Sweden’s royal family has for the most part avoided the large scandals that have plagued other European monarchies, but they have not been spared regular humiliation and finger-pointing in the tabloids.

Victoria’s younger sister Madeleine has just returned to Sweden after exiling herself abroad for weeks following a difficult break-up with her fiancé Jonas Bergström after he reportedly cheated on her.

Their brother Prince Carl Philip made headlines for leaving his girlfriend of nine years for a reality TV star, while German Brazilian-born Queen Silvia has finally been pressured to acknowledge her father’s Nazi past.

Victoria herself is widely respected and admired for her easy-going and down-to-earth style and rarely sparks controversy.

She caused a stir, however, when she decided to allow her father King Carl XVI Gustaf to walk her down the aisle and give her away to the waiting groom, unusual in gender-conscious Sweden where couples generally walk to the altar together.

A separate poll published in the Svenska Dagbladet daily on Friday however showed that 70 percent of Swedes think Victoria was right to push through her wishes.

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