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Royal husband: ‘Britain should not leave the EU’

The British-American husband of a Swedish princess has blamed the UK's decision to leave the EU on low turnout by voters supporting the remain campaign.

Royal husband: 'Britain should not leave the EU'
Sweden's Princess Madeleine and her British-American husband Chris O'Neill. Photo: Mikael Fritzon/TT

Diverting from traditional Swedish royal protocol of staying neutral on political issues, Chris O'Neill, who is married to Sweden's Princess Madeleine, admitted that he would have liked to see a different outcome in the United Kingdom's Brexit vote.

Speaking to the tabloid Expressen, the London-based businessman said: “Considering my work, you probably get what I think of Brexit. Of course Britain should not leave.”

“I think the leave side won because it was those who are unhappy and want Britain out of the EU who voted. If more who wanted to remain had gone to the polling stations things would have been different.”

Britain voted 52-48 to leave the EU with a national turnout of more than 70 percent on June 23rd. But for many on both sides of the camp, the post-referendum debate has been marred by uncertainty, retracted promises and political infighting.

“What's happening now is not good,” commented O'Neill.

The 42-year-old is currently holidaying on the Swedish island of Öland, where the Royal Family owns a summer residence. He is joined by his wife and their children, Princess Leonore and Prince Nicolas.

READ ALSO: Swedish Princess' husband tells of 'breadwinner' role

Unlike the other spouses of Madeleine's royal siblings, O'Neill holds no royal title and is usually referred to only as “Mr O'Neill” in official communcations by the Royal Court. He reportedly declined a Prince title to be able to retain his dual British-American nationality and continue his work.

Born in London, O'Neill, whose father is a US citizen, met Madeleine in New York. The couple lived there until they moved to London in 2015, with a short stint in Stockholm.

In the interview with Expressen, he declined to choose between the candidates in the upcoming US presidential election, but hinted that he would prefer Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.

“I can say as much as this, if Clinton is elected we will have women running three out of five of the world's leading economies. That would be amazing,” he said, referring also to UK Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

O'Neill, who runs payment solutions company Wilton Payments, said that he and the family are likely to stay in London for the next two to three years so that he can continue his international work. Last year he grabbed headlines when he remarked that he is the one “who puts food on the table” in the family.

“I travel a lot, but I'm maybe 75 percent of the time in London. The trips I make to for example Zürich or Milan are day trips, so that I don't have to spend the night at a hotel,” he told Expressen on Sunday.

Chris O'Neill's comments in Expressen were translated from Swedish into English by The Local and may therefore not reflect the exact words he used in his original interview, which we understand he gave in English.

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READER QUESTIONS

Do ‘self-sufficient’ Brits in Sweden need to buy health insurance?

Several readers have complained to The Local that the UK leaving the European Union means that they are being forced to keep paying for health insurance longer than they would have under EU rules. Sweden's Migration Agency told The Local this was unnecessary.

Do 'self-sufficient' Brits in Sweden need to buy health insurance?

EU citizens who do not work, study or have families in Sweden can still stay in the country longer than three months if they can demonstrate that they are self-supporting. This requires them to have a comprehensive health insurance as well as a guaranteed income from overseas or sufficient savings. 

Once an EU citizen gets registered, or folkbokförd, and obtains a Swedish personal number, they no longer have to pay health insurance.

But several Britons who have post-Brexit residence on the basis of being “self-supporting”, told The Local that they believed that they had to continue paying health insurance premiums of as much as 50,000 kronor a year if they wanted to fulfil the conditions for living in Sweden legally and so qualify for permanent right of residence (permanent uppehållsrätt), or citizenship. 

“As a sixty-one year old person categorised as self-supporting in Sweden, I must pay almost 50,000 kronor per annum for health insurance,” wrote Simon, a Briton living in Värmland. “A yearly increase of 10 percent for the years until I’m eligible for citizenship is unsustainable. If the proposal for an eight-year wait until one can apply for citizenship is implemented, it’s even more so. If Britain remained in the EU such insurance wouldn’t be required.” 

When The Local contacted Sweden’s Migration Agency about this, they said that Simon appeared to be misinformed. 

“People who are registered as living in Sweden (folkbokförd) are covered by the Swedish social insurance system and so as a result do not need to have their own comprehensive health insurance.” 

When Brits categorised as “self-supporting” and living in Sweden with post-Brexit residence status apply for certificates of permanent uppehållsrätt or Swedish citizenship in the coming years, the agency continued, they would not need to have had comprehensive health insurance over this period to qualify. 

“The requirement for comprehensive health insurance is fulfilled because the British citizen is registered as living in Sweden,” the agency wrote. 

We have also contacted the Swedish Tax Agency to ask them for their understanding of the requirements, and will update this article when we receive a response. 

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