Princess Madeleine tells of ‘terrible’ tihi moment

Sweden's royal newlyweds, Princess Madeleine and Christopher O'Neill, have given the nation a first insight into married life as they extend their honeymoon in Sweden and admit their infamous engagement video has become the butt of a royal family joke.

Princess Madeleine tells of 'terrible' tihi moment

Back from their honeymoon in the Seychelles, Princess Madeleine has told the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) that the couple are still “in paradise” as they spend a traditional summer at Solliden, the royal family’s residence on the island of Öland.

“In a way, you could say the honeymoon continues, although we are back in Sweden,” she said. “I’m usually sitting in front of a computer at some part of the day so I know the honeymoon, unfortunately, is over.”

The New York-based couple, who married in early June, said they were intent on continuing to juggle their private lives and public personas.

Madeleine holds a position with the Childhood Foundation, a charity set up by her mother Queen Silvia, while financier O’Neill chose to refrain from a royal title and stick to office duties instead. They now hope to have children, but not yet, they said.

“To continue my career is really important to me,” he said. “I chose not to receive a title as it would prevent me from my dream to continue my work. Obviously, I did that in consultation with Madeleine and the king and queen. It was important for me to have their blessing.”

The pair met in 2010 after Princess Madeleine fled to the Big Apple following an acrimonious break-up with her former fiancé.

“I didn’t know from the start that Madeleine was a Swedish princess,” added O’Neill. “But of course I found out very quickly. It would have been different if we had met in Sweden.”

Princess Madeleine admitted she enjoys the obscurity of New York life. “There are so many different people there and I feel I blend in,” she explained. “I can walk down the street and no one looks at me.”

The two also discussed their annoyance at the invasion of privacy, following the publication of beach-wear paparazzi pictures in the Swedish press.

“A honeymoon is a special occasion in life when you just want to be alone,” Madeleine said. “It is a little bubble of emotion and joy after the happiness of the wedding. To be then chased by someone who breaks that bubble made us very sad.”

They said, however, that they could laugh at the coverage following their engagement video, published on the royal court’s website as the couple announced their impending nuptials. Madeleine’s closing smile and the “tihi” remark spread on social media and became a favourite phrase of the nation.

“Yes, it was terrible,” said Madeleine. “It’s become a bit of a joke in the family.”

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How are Sweden’s tourist spots coping with the risk of coronavirus outbreaks this summer?

The Public Health Agency has warned that rural areas popular with tourists are particularly vulnerable to a second wave of the coronavirus this summer.

How are Sweden's tourist spots coping with the risk of coronavirus outbreaks this summer?
A beach on Öland, a popular tourist spot that also has Sweden's highest proportion of elderly residents. Photo: Mikael Fritzon / TT

“At the end of the summer, we may get an increased strain on the healthcare sector if distance isn't kept and the restrictions aren't respected,” said the Public Health Agency's general director Johan Carlson at a press conference in early July.

He warned that it was especially important for young people to continue following the restrictions.

“It's unreasonable to think you can live as normal if you aren't in a risk groups while others have to keep distance,” he said.

While the larger cities in Sweden tend to empty out during the warmer months, there is concern about how infection may spread in popular tourist spots.

“We know that the most common tourist areas aren't very densely populated normally, so there is a big percentage increase in the population, for example on Gotland and Öland,” said Thomas Lindén, a department head at the National Board of Health and Welfare.

So how are these areas coping so far?

“At the moment there is available [hospital] capacity in all tourist areas, but there is significant worry,” Lindén said.

In the Kalmar region, including the island of Öland which was singled out in this week's press conference following reports of crowding, local authorities say that so far, there have not been major problems.

“We have few Covid-19 inpatients, less than a handful,” said the region's healthcare director Johan Rosenqvist. “Otherwise, it's like any summer, we are used to a lot of people coming here. The difference is that we must have resources to devote to Covid-19 patients.”

He said that it would however be a problem if there was a local outbreak before the end of summer, with many medical staff still on holiday. In that case, Rosenqvist said it might be necessary to call them back to work. 

Photo: Jessica Gow / TT

Agneta Ahlberg, head of operations the campsites in Borgholm on Öland, said tourism in the area was very different this year. 

“When the decision came [in mid-June] that people could travel more than two hours away, there were lots of bookings. It made a very big difference,” she said. 

“There are always some [who ignore rules] but the vast majority are responsible, and we try to be around and remind them too. Everyone knows what applies,” said her colleague Hans Gerremo. “I was down at the campsite earlier talking with guests, they feel good and can see that we care. We've arranged extra cleaning too.”

“I don't think we've seen the crowding that's being talked about. People naturally keep a distance from each other,” he said.

One family of seven had made the two and a half hour journey from their hometown to stay at the campsite, and said they were comfortable at Borgholm.

“We had views from the beginning about the fact there were so many people here on Öland, we said they were completely stupid, but then we came here ourselves,” Stefan and Lotta Ekenmo told TT.

“You have your own accommodation with a caravan, and then you follow the recommendations. It would be different if you stayed at a hotel or in cottages where other people have stayed. Here, it's just us.”