Crowds gather along procession route

Police in Stockholm expect around 250,000 people to take to the streets to catch a glimpse of the Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling when they leave Stockholm Cathedral in a carriage procession after their wedding on Saturday afternoon.

Among the first to secure places along the route were Carina Karlebo, 51, and Eva Hoff Eriksson, 52, from Rimbo in eastern Sweden. Amid Swedish flags and a heavy police presence, they folded out their camping chairs at 7.30am to soak up the morning sun at Strömbron, a bridge in the city centre.

“We want to take in the atmosphere. Watching it on TV is just not the same thing,” Karlebo told news agency TT.

Crown Princess Victoria is set to wed her former personal trainer on Saturday in one of the largest public celebrations ever organised in Stockholm.

Crown Princess Victoria, 32, will tie the knot with 36-year-old commoner Daniel Westling in an afternoon ceremony at the Stockholm Cathedral before a majestic procession through the streets of the capital, decked out in flowers and blue and yellow flags.

More than 1,200 guests, including royals from around the world like Beatrix of the Netherlands, Albert of Monaco, Jordan’s King Abdullah and a slew of Scandinavian majesties have been invited to witness the exchange of vows.

The ceremony and surrounding events are “much more important than all of those ever organised” by the royal palace, its information chief Nina Eldh said.

The Swedish capital, made up of 14 islands and set in a Baltic Sea archipelago of some 24,000 islands, should prove a picturesque backdrop for the princess’s big day.

After the ceremony, the couple will ride through the city centere in a horse-drawn carriage before navigating Stockholm’s clear waters in the same royal barge Victoria’s parents, Queen Silvia and King Carl XVI Gustaf, used on their wedding day, 34 years ago to the day.

The nearly seven-kilometer route will be the longest ever taken by a Swedish royal cortege, according to Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Beck-Friis Häll.

The newlyweds and those hoping to catch a glimpse of the couple will be entertained by some 20 bands — 19 of them military — placed along the procession route.

No fewer than 6,000 military personnel will be spread throughout Stockholm, and 18 Gripen fighter jets will fly high above the newlyweds and their fans.

Some 2,000 police officers, many donning newly-issued uniforms, will also patrol the streets in the largest-ever operation by the force in the capital, where traffic has been disrupted for days and will be completely closed off most of Saturday.

When planning the massive security measures, Swedish police said they had drawn on the experience of the Netherlands, where security around royal events has been beefed up after seven bystanders were killed in a failed attack on the royal family in 2009.

Saturday’s event is expected to attract large crowds, including families with children, and police said they would establish no fewer than eight centres throughout the capital to help reunite lost little ones with their parents.

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