Saturday’s marriage between Swedish Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling in Stockholm’s Cathedral was more than just pomp, circumstance, and champagne cork popping. The former personal trainer would be putting the Royal Family in good shape.
Political scientist Carl-Eric Grimstad M.A. has researched royalty for many years, and was Deputy Private Secretary to Norway’s King Harald in the early ‘90s.
He believes “ordinary man” Westling will be beneficial for the Swedish Monarchy in many ways.
“Europe’s royal families aren’t what they used to be. They’re much smaller, and there isn’t such a large market for princes and princesses anymore. It’ll be good for them,” he tells The Foreigner.
Many royals have married close relations throughout the centuries, and Grimstad believes a fresh dose of genes is what’s needed. He says royal dynasties can only survive with foreigners in their midst. Westling, Crown Princess Victoria’s former personal trainer is Swedish, but is a foreigner in another sense.
According to Grimstad, though middle class Westling isn’t used to living in sophisticated surroundings, it’ll be an advantage.
“Royal families must be middle class, semi social democratic institutions in order to survive these days.”
He draws a parallel to the Norwegian Royal Family.
“HRH Mette-Marit is extraordinary, even though her background is “ordinary”. She immediately became a type of Cinderella figure for 10 – 14-year-olds upon her marriage to HRH Crown Prince Haakon in 2001. The Royal Family suddenly became “obtainable”. More people could identify with them.”
But survival isn’t just about genes and social level. Another issue is political power.
“Scandinavians won’t tolerate royal power behind politics. By way of example, the 1973 Swedish Constitution removed King Carl Gustaf XVI of his political powers, making them the most politically-stripped family in Europe. He even has fewer powers than the Norwegian King, who meets with the governmental State Council every Friday at the Palace,” he says.
“The other side of the coin is it’s very difficult for any normal person to survive in modern society without being able to express an opinion. Neither the Norwegian Crown Prince and Princess nor the Royal Family are allowed to pass any political opinion.”
Grimstad says this is a problem for those who are not content with just cutting ribbons and opening new roads.
“TRH Haakon and Mette-Marit started on the humanitarian road instead, which has become more pronounced in the last 10 years.”
“So what should Daniel Westling do to maintain the Swedish Monarchy’s credibility?”
“He’s an entrepreneur and started out by saying he’s going to promote Swedish business abroad and at home. But he’s now opted to focus on health and youth questions instead.” says Grimstad.
It’s a better idea from the point of view of Westling’s background, and both the Royal Family’s as well as his own credibility, Grimstad believes.
“You get involved with highly politically-sensitive issues in business, which could be hazardous for the Swedish Monarchy if they take part. Besides, Westling has very little formal and family competence. This will make it difficult for him to gain authority and exposure in business life, as Swedish industrialists are well-educated.”
Westling has undergone kidney transplant surgery, which gives him an advantage elsewhere.
“Today, being able to talk from personal experience gives you credibility,” Grimstad says.