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Princess Sofia returns to her Swedish roots

Sweden's newest princess, Sofia, has returned to the region where she grew up for the first time since her marriage to Prince Carl Philip catapulted her to royal stardom.

Princess Sofia returns to her Swedish roots
Sweden's Princess Sofia Hellqvist at a visit to Dalarna on Monday. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

The 30-year-old princess, formerly known as Sofia Hellqvist, grew up in the mythical Älvdalen region of Dalarna in north-western parts of central Sweden.

On Monday, she returned to her roots on a two-day visit to Dalarna with her prince husband in their first official trip since the royal couple's high-profile wedding this summer.


Princess Sofia and Prince Carl Philip greeting crowds. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

“It feels great,” the princess told photographers waiting to snap her pictures. “This is the husband,” she joked, pretending to introduce Carl Philip to the excited crowds.

The couple met refugee children at an asylum centre in the town of Borlänge on Monday, before heading onwards to Säter, Stora Skedvi and Falun to talk to Swedish businesses.


Sofia and Carl Philip at an asylum centre for refugee children. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

On Tuesday they are set to travel to a Sami village – the indigenous people of Scandinavia – in the mountains of Dalarna as well as Sofia's hometown of Älvdalen, a small community of only some 2,000 residents.


Sofia playing with the children at the asylum centre. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Älvdalen is known for its preservation of an old Viking dialect called Elfdalian, which is still spoken by many in the area today.

“It is extra special to us. And I think everyone here feels that she's kind of 'our' princess,” Lotta Larsson, head of communications for Dalarna county council, told the TT newswire ahead of the royals' visit.


Sofia baking Swedish crisp bread at Stora Skedvi bakery. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

Sofia became Sweden's newest princess after she married Carl Philip at a lavish ceremony in June 2015.

ROYAL

Scandal-hit Frenchman ‘groped Sweden’s Crown Princess’

Jean-Claude Arnault, the French photographer at the centre of the crisis at the Swedish Academy, has been accused of sexually harassing no less a figure than Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria.

Scandal-hit Frenchman 'groped Sweden's Crown Princess'
Crown Princess Victoria. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
According to the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, three sources, at least one within the Academy, claim to have witnessed Arnault groping the Crown Princess’s bottom at an event put on by the body, which awards the Nobel Prize for Literature. 
 
The Swedish feminist Ebba Witt-Brattström, who was present at the event at Villa Bergsgården in Stockholm, told both Expressen and Swedish broadcaster SVT that one of Victoria's aides had leapt to her rescue.
 
“Her female aide threw herself forward and pushed him away,” she said. “She pushed away his hand.” 
 
After the alleged transgression, the Academy’s then Permanent Secretary Horace Engdahl was reportedly instructed by the court to “undertake measures” to ensure that the Crown Princess, then still in her 20s, would never be left alone in the company of the then 60-year-old Arnault. 
 
The story, if true, is another blow to the claims of longstanding Academy members, Engdahl in particular, that they were unaware of Arnault reputation as a serial sexual harasser.
 
“We can’t comment on that particular information,” Margareta Thorgren, press officer at the Swedish Royal Court told the newspaper, although she said the court supported the #metoo movement against sexual harassment. 
 
“The information surrounding Jean-Claude Arnault which the media has reported since the autumn is terrifying,” she added. 
 
Svenska Dagbladet has translated their scoop into English German, and French
 
In November, the Dagens Nyheter newspaper reported accusations from 18 different women that Arnault had sexually harassed or assaulted them, either at Forum, the cultural centre he helped run, or at apartments owned by the Swedish Academy in Stockholm and Paris. 
 
Arnault is married to Katarina Frostenson, a poet and Academy member, and is reportedly a close friend of Engdahl's. 
 
The photographer has denied all the accusations of harassment and his lawyer on Saturday told Expressen and Swedish broadcaster SVT that the new accusation was “false and erroneous”, and had been “released to slander and damage him”. 
 
“The claimed transgressions never took place,” Arnault said, according to his lawyer. “This is idiotic”. 
 
The accusations have thrown the Academy into turmoil, with no fewer than six Academy members stepping down as a result, four in protest at the way they have been handled.
 
Katarina Frostenson and former Permanent Secretary Sara Danius said they would both leave their seats on April 12, after a tense meeting at which Frostenson reportedly said she would not resign unless Danius did too.  
 
Only ten of the Academy’s 18 members are still active, and the institution is expected to decide next Thursday if it will award the Nobel Prize this year, or postpone it to next year.
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