Future royal heir baptized in Sweden

LOUISE NORDSTROM Associated Press Published:

STOCKHOLM (AP) -- Princess Estelle, the future heir to the Swedish throne, was baptized Tuesday amid pomp and pageantry in the chapel of the Royal Palace in Stockholm.

Some 550 guests, including royals from Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands, witnessed the ceremony, which was broadcast live on television in Sweden and neighboring Denmark and Norway.

The 3-month-old princess, whose full name is Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary, is second in line to the throne as the first-born child of Crown Princess Victoria, 34, and Prince Daniel, 38.

Dressed in a christening gown previously worn by both her mother and grandfather, King Carl XVI Gustaf, Estelle rested comfortably in the arms of her parents during the hour-long ceremony. The chapel was decorated with apple-blossom garlands and yellow and white flowers.

Estelle remained mostly still as Archbishop Anders Wejryd poured water on her head from the chapel's 17th century silver font. The water had been collected from a spring on the island of Oland, where the royal family has its summer residence.

Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Sweden's Prince Carl Philip, Australian-born Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Prince Daniel's sister, Anna Westling Soderstrom, were named Estelle's godparents.

Among the other guests was Victoria's former nurse, Eva Andersson.

"It's such an honor to be here today," Andersson told the AP. "It was very moving; I could feel it in my heart."

Though the king is still Sweden's head of state, the monarchy's role is today largely ceremonial. There is a small republican movement, but the monarchy enjoys widespread public support, in part because of the popularity of the royal family.

Victoria, in particular, is admired for being down to earth and modest. She married Daniel Westling, her former gym instructor, in 2010.

Victoria's unmarried younger siblings were allowed to bring their partners to the ceremony Tuesday, which would have been considered a breach of royal protocol in times past.

Chris O'Neill, the American boyfriend of Victoria's sister, Princess Madeleine, told the AP he enjoyed the event. "It was fantastic," he said.

Hundreds of Swedes and foreign visitors gathered outside the palace in the hope of catching a glimpse of the little princess. Julia Hulsmann, 39, and Andrea Weichmann, 46, had traveled all the way from Munich, Germany, for the occasion.

"We were the first people out here this morning," Hulsmann said. "We've been here since 5.30 a.m."

They even brought gifts for the royal family: gingerbread cookies and an aquarelle painting that Weichmann had made of the crown princess holding her daughter.

"They are so lovely, so warm and natural. Truly enchanting," she said.

Sweden's current dynasty was founded in 1810 when French marshal Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was elected as successor to the throne.