9 OCTOBER 2008

Prince Carl Philip, the only son of King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, was on hand to inaugurate one of the world's toughest sailing challenges this week.

The handsome 29-year-old, who was briefly heir to the Swedish throne before an act of parliament passed the role onto his elder sister Victoria, flew to Alicante, Spain, to see the round-the-world yacht race - dubbed the 'Everest of sailing' - get underway.

And although his own favoured sports are football, swimming and skiing, the prince - who has been in a relationship with a Stockholm ad exec for the past ten years - was clearly enjoying being at sea with the Swedish team. As one of the patrons of the race he joined them aboard their vessel for the initial in-port race stage of the competition.

The eight participating yachts will spend nine months traversing the world's oceans, with stop-offs to race in ports such as Singapore, Rio de Janeiro, Boston, Galway, Gothenburg and Stockholm.

Photo: ©
The sports-loving son of King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden was in his element this week as he joined the Swedish yachting team in Alicante for the start of one of the world's most challenging sailing competitions Photo: © Rex
Photo: ©
He was a guest crew member on one of the two Swedish vessels entered in the challenge during the in-port race stage of the competition Photo: © Rex