Princess Madeleine - Biography

Born just 11 days before Prince William, Sweden's pretty Princess Madeleine was once tipped as the perfect match for the heir to the British throne. Not surprisingly, her model looks and warm personality meant she attracted as much attention as her elder sister, the country's future queen.

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Madeleine Thérèse Ameline Josephine, Princess of Sweden, Duchess of Halsingland and Gastrikland, came into the world on June 10, 1982, at Drottningholm Palace.

The youngest child of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, she has an elder sister – Crown Princess Victoria, five years her senior – and a brother, Prince Carl Philip, who was born in 1979.

She began her schooling at the Vasterled parish pre-school aged three, continuing her education at Smedslattsskolan in nearby Bromma four years later.

The keen equestrian and gymnast went on to attend Carlssons Skola in Stockholm, finishing her studies at the city's Enskilda Gymnasiet in 2001.

Always a popular figure with photographers, she was thrust into the spotlight on her own when, in October 2001, she moved to the UK, saying she wanted to improve her English and "live like a normal girl". "I've always wanted to go abroad, to get to know other cultures and try new things," she said.

Her chance to blend into life in bustling Chelsea, where she shared a home with a family friend, was short-lived, however, as Madeleine found herself unable to escape the Swedish media.

"I had really hoped for a private life in London," she said after calling a press conference so she could "have peace and quiet" once and for all. "I've felt chased," she said. "It's no fun to have people lying in wait for you at the door of your house."

Along with the press, reports of the princess' taste for nightlife followed her to the UK. "My friends call sometimes from home and say things like, 'They're saying over here that you were at a club until five in the morning, is that true?'," she said. "And it's not true most of the time." 

Within months Madeleine had decided to pack up and return home, with a spokesperson describing her UK stay as "extremely tough". 

In January 2003, the Princess who is fluent in German, English and French, enrolled at the prestigious University of Stockholm, where she studied history of art – later embarking on a further course in ethnology.

Committed to her studies while maintaining her passions for horseriding – she owned her own horses for a time and entered showjumping competitions under the name Anna Svensson – the royal also stepped up her involvement in official duties.

She became patron of high-profile charity Min Stora Dag (My Big Day), which grants wishes to youngsters with serious illnesses and interned for UNICEF in New York, working for the Child Protective Services division.

In 2002, Cupid struck when, aged 20, she was introduced to lawyer Jonas Bergstrom by mutual friends. A first date at an Italian restaurant in the upmarket neighbourhood of Ostermalm in Stockholm followed, and after a seven-year courtship the palace announced that the pretty princess was engaged.

In an interview, a Madeleine revealed that Jonas had popped the question during a romantic holiday in Capri. 

The wedding was expected at the end of 2010 – after her big sister's summer wedding with her gym-owner fiancé Daniel Westling.

But it was not to be. Rumours began to circulate at the start of 2010 that the couple's relationship was in crisis. After denials from Jonas and Queen Silvia, the Palace finally issued a statement saying that the couple had "gone their separate ways".

The announcement came following claims Jonas had been unfaithful to Madeleine with a Norwegian student during a skiing holiday.

To put her unhappiness behind her, the young royal moved to New York where she began dating financier Chris O'Neill. By February 2012, Madeleine had moved in a plush Manhattan apartment with the handsome American.

It was clear that Chris was fully welcomed by the King and Queen when he attended the christening of Princess Victoria's daughter Estelle, Sweden's future sovereign, a few months later.

Shortly afterwards, Queen Silvia announced their engagement, telling reporters that Chris was "every mother-in-law's dream".

On 8 June, the couple wed at a ceremony in the chapel of Stockholm's Royal Palace, with blue-blooded guests from across Europe looking on. The bride was breathtaking in a silk organza and lace gown, created by Valentino, causing the groom to shed tears of happiness.