"The greatest thing of all is the love," were the words with which Prince Daniel ended his eloquent and endearing speech at the Royal Banquet, and with those words melted the hearts of all the women who were present as well as millions watching around the world.
Starting with the procession of most of Europe's royal houses into Storkyrkan, the Stockholm Cathedral next to the Royal Palace, followed by the arrival of the bridal couple in a vintage automobile from the King's own regal collection, to the wedding itself...and many kisses, hugs and embraces of the two thereafter...the theme of love and romance has never been more impeccably celebrated than on Saturday, June 19, when Crown Princess Victoria married Prince Daniel.
Even so much as the media coverage was conducted with casual taste and notable quality that is rarely seen at any public event, Hollywood or otherwise. The pageantry of dress would have made any movie making costume designer jealous, yet, these were real in every glitter and stitch. The gowns, suits and uniforms amounted to such an excessive array that it seemed that the wardrobes, jewel and medal cases of monarchies throughout had been emptied and then piled upon the dignitaries and royalties in attendance.
As guests filled the cathedral it became obvious which nations had not sent their representatives. England sent one prince, but neither Queen Elizabeth II nor Prince Charles were present. Both his sons were also absent because they were attending World Cup soccer matches in South Africa, although England's team did not play on Saturday and the squad's performance so far had tarnished the professional myth of that country's major league players.
A happy couple, endlessly smiling bride
Except for moments when she recited her bridal vows and kissed her prince - on the cheeks, on the hands, on the lips, and countless times during the day - the effervescent smile of the bride never ceased from the moment of their arrival at the cathedral until the early hours of the Sunday morning, and probably longer although coverage ceased somewhat after midnight while more than 500 guests continued dancing in the Royal Palace in Stockholm. In a bare-shouldered gleaming white dress that was elegant in its stylish simplicity, Crown Princess Victoria radiated happiness with a relaxed formality that allowed her to give a quick, reassuring wink to her betrothed as they stood before the altar.
Defying the wishes of the Archbishop of the Lutheran Church of Sweden to have the bride come unaccompanied down the aisle, King Carl XVI Gustaf took his firstborn daughter's arm and led her to the altar and her awaiting bridegroom - a commonplace tradition today in Sweden, although church officials had scorned this by calling it the "American style" of wedding ceremonies. Adding another modern touch to the otherwise tedious church chanting, original songs and music - composed among others by the ABBA member Benny Andersson - were performed by choirs and well known Swedish vocalists.
Much like apprehensions that anything might go awry, clouds threatened, but above the entire entourage from the church, along a lengthy route of cheering crowds through central Stockholm, into a golden barge that carried them to the Royal Palace and even when they emerged on the balcony to greet more gathered throngs, everything went perfectly, even the weather. Not a single incident was seen to mar the event, and for the most part, the clouds parted and the sun shined long into the midsummer evening.
As more than 500 persons passed media stations, globally streamed commentators of SVT (Swedish Television) demonstrated adept competence by identifying each person, their rank or relationship to the Swedish Royalty and, moreover, describing in detail each tiara, jewel, medallion and other marvelous adornment worn by the distinguished individuals. With much detail to the environments in the castle, to the entrées, the cooks and chefs, the entertainers, the dinner and each detail, television personalities' ongoing commentaries added fascinating interest that made the long hours of coverage a sustainable form of entertainment.
One minor annoyance was that the temperature became uncomfortable in the cathedral because cooled air was not possible since the delicate, antique organ would have been thrown out of tune. Therefore, rows of dignitaries shuffled, sweated and tried to cool themselves with hand fans throughout the ceremony.
"..the greatest thing of all is the love"
Later, at the Royal Palace, the rooms were unquestionably overcrowded with far more persons than ever intended in the ages when these were constructed. Therefore, the ceilings had been reinforced so that the vibrations of thousands of feet would not cause anything to become dislodged. At the bridal dinner, comments during speeches by the Wedding Couple's relatives echoed the fact that all had observed during the day: that it was clear to the guests, the nation and the world that watched that the pair were deeply in love.
Delivering a lovingly beautiful expression of his love and devotion, Prince Daniel ended with the words, "...and the greatest thing of all is the love" upon which Crown Princess Victoria kissed his hand and they embraced once more.
The task of moving in and out of reception, dining and dancing rooms became an elbow-to-elbow parade of guests and officials, although a corps of masters in arms eased congestions while entertainers such as a Renaissance groups of flower-casters, musicians, dancers and singers made the short transits memorable.
Looking like a veritable Prince and Princess from a fairytale saga, the couple found sparse floor space in the White Ocean room amidst all in attendance - some more than ninety years old - and commenced the wedding waltz, after which they were joined by the King and Queen of Sweden, followed in rank of significance by all guests, royal and otherwise, as the occasion lingered far into the morning hours. On Sunday following the wedding, a substantial group of the closest standing guests will attend a Sunday brunch, also at the castle.
Go to SVT Play to see parts of the day's festivities online: http://svt.se/