February 18, 2014

Finding royal love at the Olympics

The following is a guest post from Cheryl Anderson of The Princess Palace.

As the slopes continue to heat up in Sochi, there may be a royal romance stirring on the sidelines. While no specific sitings have been made, the international games have a strong history as an incubator for love matches.

Back in 1972, the King of Sweden's grandson and heir, Prince Carl Gustav, journeyed to the Munich Games where he encountered a dark-eyed half-Brazilian German beauty named Silvia Sommerlath.  While those games were forever overshadowed by the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes, this pair at least walked away with more pleasant prospects. He would later say that things "just clicked" when he met Silvia, who was working as an educational host and translator. (She speaks German, Portuguese, Spanish, English, French, and now Swedish.) 

Their romance, however, was not without its trials. King Gustav VI Adolf would not allow members of the royal family to marry commoners and keep their place in the line of succession. Two of Carl Gustav's uncles had been forced to surrender their royal status in order to marry "lesser" brides. A third uncle, Prince Bertil, the only heir after Carl Gustav, kept his status by living with his Welsh lady love but not marrying her. 

Once Carl Gustav became king, succeeding instead of his father who had died in a plane crash in 1947, he set aside the dynastic rule against unequal marriages and both he and Uncle Bertil married the women they loved. Bertil's widow, Princess Lilian died just year after decades as a beloved member of the family. And today, Silvia is the longest serving Queen Consort in Swedish history. She and her husband have three children and two granddaughters.

No such harsh rules stood in the way of our next Olympic royal lovers, although their meeting was even less conventional. These two did not meet as part of their official responsibilities at the games.

Imagine you and your BFF joking around at the local pub when three handsome young men start paying attention to you. Which ones of these three have smooth chests and which have hairy chests, you wonder out loud when one of the fellows offers to show you. So goes the legend of the first encounter between Australian Mary Donaldson and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark. In Sydney for the 2000 Olympics, Frederik and two of his princely cousins had gone out for a relaxing evening. 

After meeting Mary, however, his Australian sojourn changed completely. He still went on a pre-arranged adventure into the Australian wilderness, but he called Mary constantly. As he described it, he phoned every time he managed to get a phone signal. Even when he was called home early because of his grandmother's illness, he couldn't get enough of Mary. They phoned and emailed constantly. He traveled to Australia as often as possible because he could be incognito there and the romance stayed out of the media until well after she moved to Europe a year later. 

They married in 2004. Today they have four children and their popularity as the royalty of Australia rivals that of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

So, if you would like to meet your own Prince Charming, there is still a little time left to get to Sochi.

Author: Cheryl Anderson of The Princess Palace

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