Recently, Her Royal Highness Princess Madeleine of Sweden and her husband, Mr. Christopher O’Neill sat down with the Swedish newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet, to discuss their new life together, how they met, their honeymoon, work, and much more.
Here is what the couple had to say. Oh yeah, by the way, I did my best to translate the article into English so if I made any mistakes please don’t bite my head off. Gracias/Tack/Mahalo. 🙂
“On a sunny day at Solliden Slott on Öland Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill meets us on the terrace outside the so-called green room.
Honeymoon in Seychelles is over. But, the couple are still “in paradise” says Madeleine. ‘In a way, you could say that it [our honeymoon] is continuing, though we are back in Sweden.
Even though Chris started part-time work a bit.
‘I sit some in front of the computer all day so I know the honeymoon, unfortunately, is over’ says Chris.
Even Madeleine working remotely with the campaign “Thank you” for the World Childhood Foundation, which is to be launched at the end of August when she and Chris return to everyday life in New York City.
The use of modern technology has made it possible for the couple to work when they are on the move. But, during the honeymoon they chose to disconnect.
‘We decided to turn off all cell phones and computers’ tells Madeleine.
The couple met through mutual friends.
‘The very first time we met was a few years ago in New York. At that time we lived quite separate lives. Madeleine had friends who had moved to New York as she went and visited occasionally. And, sometimes you came with other friends just to be in New York. During this period we encountered each other from time to time at various events and dinners through mutual friends and acquaintances’ says Chris.
At the end of the summer 2010 Princess Madeleine moved to New York permanently to work with the World Childhood Foundation’s United States office. Last spring, she had lived in the city to get away from Sweden after she and her then fiancé broke-off their engagement.
‘Just before she moved to New York permanently, in September 2010, we met again by chance. It was a mutual friend who had invited a groups of friends to his house during a long weekend. After that we kept in touch. Then it [our relationship] grew slowly and slowly…’ says Chris.
‘It started as a friendship that grew into something more’ says Madeleine.
The conversation takes place in English. The couple are relaxed and laid back.
‘I did not know from the beginning that Madeleine was a princess from Sweden. But, of course, got to know it very quickly. Of course, it would have been different if we had met in Sweden. New York is a city full of people who “is someone” somewhere. It is a very egalitarian basis, which I like’ says Chris.
When did you know that this was something more serious?
‘If you ask me, immediately’ laughs Chris. ‘In particular, it was when we started to hang out together without other people we became come closer to each other.’
‘For me it took a little longer. But, I came from a long relationship which had lasted for 8 years, so it was nice to be single for a little’ says Madeleine.
In the fall, their friendship and budding love managed to remain in the circle of their closest friends.
But, on January 16, 2011, a cellphone video, shot by a Spanish tourist, captured the new couple while they were at The Boathouse restaurant in Central Park in New York City. The tourist sold the video and was quickly published worldwide.
‘I remember that it was cold outside and we went in to drink something hot. We were at The Boathouse for 10 minutes. Then there was the film out there [of us].
Click here to watch the infamous video from the Boathouse.
Since we had met for a few months I had started to slowly prepare Madeleine on what would happen if it became known outside our little group that we met. Very quickly it escalated into something intensely.’
Two years after they became a couple on October 25, 2012, the royal family announced the couple’s engagement. On their Facebook page there was a video of the couple talking about their engagement which ended with the Tihi remark. Madeleine’s Tihi response quickly made its way to other social media sites.
‘Yes, it was terrible’ laughs Madeleine.
Was it a coincidence?
‘It’s a thing we have in the family. We have a very different sound for us, and Chris jokes about it with me; the hilarious thing was that we saw the video without reacting to it’ Madeleine continues.
During the planning of the wedding the couple had to decide whether to broadcast the royal wedding live or to have a private wedding. A discussion that goes back into the conversation with the newlyweds and where they chose what they call “a middle way”.
‘For us, it was obvious that the wedding would be in Sweden and that a deal would be to televise it so that the Swedish people could take advantage of it.’
‘I stood in the Royal Chapel and saw you make an entrance. That’s the moment when I collected myself, taking a deep breath, and I wondered where are they now?’ says Chris.
‘You almost fainted’ says Madeleine.
‘Well, actually, I almost passed out in five minutes. It is overwhelming for all bridegrooms to stand before family and friends. To see the people you love most in the world to sit and watch. Then you have the TV cameras on and cameramen [everywhere], and the first few minutes, I remember thinking, ‘Please, please don’t faint, please don’t faint. But, then when the doors opened and I saw Madeleine all that [nervousness] disappeared. Then it was just she.
‘For me it was also very special. It was so beautiful with all the children singing. I thought I would be nervous, but I was surprisingly calm. Think it will be like when you know what you want in life, then it is quiet’ said Madeleine.
After the wedding, the couple went on their honeymoon in the Seychelles. But, the trip came to an abrupt interruption when the paparazzi found them, took photos of the couple and were published in Swedish media.
‘A honeymoon is such a special time in life when you just want to be alone. It is in this little bubble of emotion and joy and happiness over the wedding. To then be chased [actually, let’s be honest here, they were stalked] by someone who breaks the bubble made us very sad’ said Madeleine.
‘It is important to understand that not only were the images taken from a boat, there were also journalists who checked in on the island which is a very special place with only a dozen or so villas. And, suddenly the house next to us were full of journalists…which completely destroyed everything [their honeymoon]. It was an intrusion that you should not have to accept’ says Chris.
When the couple will return to New York, in late August, it will be an intensive period.
‘Earlier this year, I made a difficult decision to quit my job at Noster Capital where I worked for six years. I will continue to be a consultant for the firm. My new business is in the financial services sector but I do not want to talk too much about it because it is in such an early stage’ says Chris.
He chose to leave Noster Capital right now because he says, first and foremost, for the exciting opportunity to develop his own business.
‘When it first became known that Madeleine and I were a couple and then became engaged, it was a tough time for me and my colleagues at Noster Capital. Journalists did everything possible to try to find out what we did and what I did. It was a very stressful time, but it went over pretty quickly and I had been able leave work if I had wanted to.’
For Chris and Madeleine, it was a joint decision that he would decline a royal title.
‘To continue my career is really important for me. I chose to not receive a title that would have prevented me from my dream of continuing my work. Of course I consulted with Madeleine and the King and Queen. It was important for me to have their blessing’ says Chris.
You discussed sometime the choice of even you could get off, Madeleine, in the same way as Princess Märtha Louise of Norway did?
‘We thought about it, too. But, I and my family thought this was the best way for us,’ says Madeleine. ‘I will always like to represent Sweden. Both in Sweden and abroad. I change the language now. I’m getting all Swedish here’ explains Madeleine for Chris.
‘It is important for me to represent Sweden and I am also proud to make it in the United States. There is one very impressed with Sweden, especially when it comes to child rights issues, as I am interested in’ she continues.
In addition to working for the World Childhood Foundation, how does your representative missions for the royal family work out [while you are in] New York?
‘Until now, there has been a lot of missions for the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, which I think is doing a great job. I try to be with them if they have the event or larger events. And, of course if it’s official missions I try to participate when I can’ said Madeleine.
What is it like to be a Swedish princess in New York?
‘Just as Chris said before, it’s so many different people there and I feel like I blend in. I can walk down the street and nobody is looking after me’ said Madeleine. ‘At the same time, life in the United States includes paparazzi in a completely different way than in Sweden.’
‘They are very aggressive in how they are and what time of day they do it, which makes it possible to get a little mad sometimes…’ says Chris.
Because everyone in the interview room understands that Chris is referring to the picture we’ve seen of him in the newspapers where he “Gives the Finger” at a photographer.
Now is your chance to tell us what happened and what you learned from it [giving the happy finger to the photographers/paparazzi in general].
‘Actually, it is quite impossible, before it happened, to understand what it is like to be stalked by the paparazzi. It can be half eight in the morning when you walk the dog and going to the gym and suddenly they are just there. They haunt you, screaming your name, running and/or bicycling next to you, or in cars and refuse to leave you alone just to get their picture of you’ says Chris.
‘But, of course, I have learned from it not to be so angry. But, you know, we’re human, and there is a limit to what one can take without reacting.’
During the summer, Chris and Madeleine got a taste of how it will be to participate in the royal life together with the Swedish national day, the wedding and Victoria Day.
‘For us its overwhelming because it’s very much attention directed in a short period of time. At the wedding, I felt so honored. All these people who come out to the streets to rejoice with us’ says Chris.
Have you had any more formal training for the official life that awaits?
‘No’ says Chris.
It is “learn by doing”?
‘Precisely,’ says Madeleine. ‘I see what she does and she does as King does’ laughs Chris. ‘So we can blame the Dad if something goes wrong…no I’m kidding.’
How much will you be in Sweden [in the time/years] to come?
‘It is a good question. Right now, we will be in New York because of work and other things. But, who knows how it will be in the future. At some point, we will move to Sweden or anywhere else in Europe, but so far it’s about Sweden’ says Madeleine.
‘We both were born and grew up in Europe. I am amused when I read what I called the “American”. Sure, my father was “American” and I have lived in the United States in the last decade but have never considered myself to be thoroughly American. Europe, and especially London, has for me always been home’ said Chris.
Do you plan to have a base in Sweden? A place that is yours a place that you go to when you are here?
‘Maybe. I have my little apartment in the Royal Stables. It’s nice to have a place’ says Madeleine. ‘Where I [can] have a Bureau,’ Chris chimes in.
Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel has just completed construction of a summer villa here at Solliden, is there anything that you could imagine?
‘Yes. They are now a separate family and I think all families dream about having something that is more of a self. Maybe when we have our family that it would be nice’ smiles Madeleine
With Victoria’s daughter’s presence at Solliden it brought memories to life from her childhood summers [at the palace].
‘It was so much fun the other day. Dad took out all of our old toys that he found in the old barn. Now Estelle is playing with the old stuff and she loves it’ said Madeleine.
‘We are both very family oriented and would, if we can, of course, have children eventually,’ says Chris.
‘But right now we enjoy most of being newlyweds,’ said Madeleine.
Are you talking only [in] English with each other?
‘Yes’ says Madeleine. ‘And, we also speak German when we are in the United States when we don’t want someone else [who maybe trying to listen in] to understand what we are saying.’
‘I have my project to learn Swedish, having taken classes in New York and then I have my own CD and sometimes when Madeleine comes home, she wonders, “what on Earth is this?” There I am with my trick saying things like: “pojken schpringer”.
When Madeleine went to the United States after the broken engagement, it was a very emotional and special period in her life.
Do you, with perspective, have something [to say] about that time [in your life]?
‘Everything happens for a reason. I really believe it. Just then I needed change and I needed to get away from Sweden for a while. I must say that I am grateful that it happened, because otherwise, had I not [moved to New York City] I would have not been married to this amazing man’ says Madeleine.
‘You learn a lot of things. And, sometimes when you have been so down you become a stronger person. Something that maybe I needed, as well as to stand on its own feet. It was really a process where I learned a lot’ she continues.
In life now and in the future , she is not alone.
‘The sweetest feeling now that we are married is that we really are a team. It really brings a special…’ ‘Bond’ fills in Chris.
A modern couple, a team, an aspiring family who are independent enough to choose their own paths.”
The End. 🙂
Chris keeps it together as his watches his beautiful bride walk down the aisle.
To view new photos of the couple courtesy of Svenska Dagbladet please click here.
Photo courtesy of Kungahuset