Victoria and Daniel met at Daniel’s gym, Master Training. When Daniel Westling and his colleague, Benny Johansson, took over the management of the gym in 1999, the new keyword became “discretion.” Thus it became possible for specially invited customers to come and work out whenever they felt like it, without having to be oohed and ogled by others.
Thanks to this clever move, Master Training began attracting a group of people with great spending power who wanted to work out in privacy. Many of Stockholm’s more prominent businessmen, politicians and artists started coming, as did many close to the Crown Princess, including Princess Madeleine and Caroline Kreuger. When the Crown Princess herself began working out there, Daniel became her personal trainer.
The couple certainly had many opportunities to chat, while working out a suitable training program for Victoria. So when their professional relationship developed into something more personal, first friendship then love, their closest friends were probably not too surprised. After Expressen revealed that Daniel was the Crown Princess’s new sweetheart, the boy from Ockelbo was scrutinized by both Swedish and foreign press. And Ockelbo, a place with less than 3,000 inhabitants, situated two and a half hours north of Stockholm, and mostly known as a brand of boats and snow scooters, was suddenly on the world map as the hometown of The Boyfriend.

A romance kept secret for a long time
Until Aftonbladet ran its newsbyte in the summer of 2002, Daniel and Victoria had managed to keep their romance under wraps. At her birthday celebration at Solliden on Öland a few days later, however, a huge crowd of international press had gathered hoping for a glimpse of the boyfriend or for Victoria to perhaps mention his name. But Daniel was nowhere to be seen; he always kept a low profile about his relationship with the princess. In fact, he hadn't said a word about it until the day the two publicly declared their engagement. And whenever Victoria was asked about Daniel, she always refused to answer, saying, “That’s my private life.”
It must have been a hectic time for the princess, who was combining her studies with travels and representation, as well as for Daniel, who was up to his elbows in a newly founded and quickly expanding gym business.
From the very beginning, the royal family showed respect for Victoria’s choice of boyfriend, and Victoria herself, whenever interviewed, expressed her belief that she should have the right to marry whomever she wanted. For the Swedish people, however, the choice of boyfriend at first became a question of survival of the monarchy. It was hardly the first time a successor to the throne picked a consort of the people, Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon married Mette-Marit in 2001, the Spanish Crown Prince Felipe married TV-journalist Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano, and in 2004 the Danish Crown Prince Frederik married Australian Mary Donaldson.
Initially, royalists in Sweden heavily criticized Daniel. Little by little, however, everyone got a closer glimpse of the man: He had a normal and stable upbringing in a small Swedish town, his background was squeaky clean, and he had never been the cause for either scandals or disapproval.

When the engagement became a fact, on February 24 of 2009, very little of that initial criticism remained. Medieval rules regarding royal alliances in order to keep peace or expand territories no longer apply when it’s time for a royal to choose a spouse. Perhaps Victoria herself put it best: “If you aren’t happy with each other, then you cannot do a good job.”

Exerpt from the Nordstjernan/Nordic Reach special issue: Victoria & Daniel