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ROYAL

Royal baptism day for Sweden’s Prince Alexander

UPDATED: Prince Alexander had his head dipped at Drottningholm Royal Chapel on Friday. It was the fifth Swedish royal baptism in a short period, with the princes and princesses now so numerous that experts say it should help prevent the country's monarchy from disappearing.

Royal baptism day for Sweden's Prince Alexander
Prince Alexander pictured with his parents in church. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

Five-month old Prince Alexander Erik Hubertus Bertil, son of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia was officially christened at lunchtime by archbishop Antje Jackelén, using water brought in from a special spring on the island of Öland as is traditional.

The white christening gown he wore is the same one worn by every royal at their baptism since Prince Gustaf Adolf in 1906. Alexander even had his own special crown laid on a cushion in the church during the ceremony. That’s a rarity these days, as the number of children in the family is so large that only the first-born gets the privilege of exclusive royal headgear which they don't have to share with any of their family members.

The recent surge in numbers in Sweden’s royal family means more than just an excuse for pomp. According to Dick Harrison, history professor at Lund University, the rapid growth in the number of people entitled to inherit the Swedish throne is important, as it lessens the risk of the royal bloodline dying out.

“Around 1980 there was a change in the order of succession which meant that only the descendants of the current King’s children may inherit the crown. For a few years, when the royal children were small, we had probably the world’s most restricted lineage,” Harrison explained.

The large number of royal children does also mean that Prince Alexander is far down the order of succession. On the plus side, the further down the hierarchy, the fewer official duties children are expected to have, so Alexander will likely have fewer eyes watching him throughout his life than father Prince Carl Philip has.

At 12pm on Friday however the focus will very much be on the tiny new royal, as his family, representatives of Sweden’s parliament, government, dignitaries and members of foreign royal houses all gather to watch the big moment.

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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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