Swedish royal wedding: 10 things to know about the couple's fascinating love story

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This Saturday, one of Europe’s most eligible royal bachelors will be taken permanently off the market. Sweden's handsome Prince Carl Philip will wed his sweetheart Sofia Hellqvist, during a romantic ceremony featuring horse-drawn carriages, high emotion, sparkling jewels and elegant royal guests.

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Prince Carl Philip and Sofia Hellqvist will marry on 13 June

Before Crown Princess Victoria's little brother marries his stunning bride, brush up on the couple's fascinating love story - here are ten things you need to know:

1) The shy first meeting

The story of how Sofia met Prince Carl Philip is refreshingly normal. Five years ago in 2010, the two were eating in the same restaurant and the friends they were with happened to know each other.

"We started with a shy greeting and everything followed," said Carl Philip after their engagement.

The two have lived together since 2011, and Sofia has increasingly become a presence on Carl Philip's arm at official events. The photogenic couple are frequently pictured together, and look relaxed and happy in each other's company.

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The royal couple met in 2010



Sofia described her groom-to-be, who is five years older than she, as "her best friend," in an interview with Swedish TV.

"Some people said we clicked from the start," said Sofia in an interview with the Swedish website DT. "But I could never believe it would end like this. Everyone who knows Carl Philip notices at once that he is an incredibly humble, warm and kind person. The more I got to know him, the more my love for him grew."

2) The bride's colourful past

Before being spotted on the arm of her prince, Sofia was best known as a model for men's magazines and for her role in the reality TV series Paradise Hotel. She even sports several tattoos. But Sofia is much more than just a pretty face. She studied accounting in New York and is also passionate about fitness, having received certification as a yoga instructor. Even more impressive, she has worked as a volunteer and aid worker in South Africa, Senegal and Ghana.

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Sofia Hellqvist was a model and appeared in a reality TV show



Though her past is far from traditional for a future princess, Sofia says she has no regrets about the choices she made, including appearing on the reality show, prior to meeting Carl Philip.

"All experiences build a person, although I wouldn't do it now if you asked me," she said in an interview with Swedish TV.

The 30-year-old was born and raised in Sweden and is the middle child of three girls. Thanks to her fashion choices, Sofia's style has been compared to the Duchess of Cambridge's, especially after her engagement photoshoot. The stunning brunette chose a dress in vibrant blue, a colour regularly sported by the Duchess – and the one she chose when she famously met the media at St James's Palace when her engagement was first announced.

3) Carl's nervous proposal

Prince Carl Philip is proof that even princes get butterflies before proposing. "I was nervous," the prince said of the proposal. "I woke up several times the night before, I don't know if Sofia noticed. I wanted it to be a surprise."

He proposed in the morning – something of a surprise to Sofia as she said she is usually the first to wake.

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The prince proposed to his love in 2014



They officially announced their engagement on 27 June, 2014, but the two have been coy about releasing too many details of the romantic encounter.

"I felt hugely confident announcing our engagement and having Sofia by my side," said Carl Philip after their engagement. "At last, we were a team and we're a good team."

4) The fabulous engagement ring - created by Carl

Unlike the Duchess of Cambridge's ring, which once graced the finger of Prince William's mother Princess Diana, Sofia's engagement ring was created especially for her.

The brilliant-cut center diamond is surrounded by a circle of smaller diamonds that also line the band.

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Prince Carl Philip designed the engagement ring



Prince Carl Philip has said that he had a hand in its design although he admits that he had a bit of help.

5) The secret stag weekend

Prince Carl Philip bid farewell to single life in late April, when his closest friends "kidnapped" him and whisked him away for a weekend in Greece. His future wife was in on the plan and even secretly packed his bags before he was whisked away.

The celebrations were reportedly planned with the help of his sister, Crown Princess Victoria, whose hen was planned by her brother.

Plenty of wine, food and fun were on hand for the group, including a night out on the Athens club scene.

6) The lavish country house hen party

Sofia's hen weekend was a bit more low key than her fiancé's. With her two sisters, close friends, and future sister in-law Crown Princess Victoria at her side, Sofia spent a weekend away at a lavish mansion on the banks of Lake Mälaren, located about an hour west of Stockholm.

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The bride-to-be spent her hen weekend at a spa with close family and friends, including Princess Victoria



The converted 17th century manor house has 12 bedrooms and 12 bathrooms and includes a library, hot tub, dining room, home cinema, games room, and an English style pub.

7) The spectacular wedding

With Carl being the third child in his family to tie the knot in the last five years, the public has grown familiar with the pomp and ceremony of Swedish royal weddings. Just two years ago, Princess Madeleine married US-British businessman Chris O'Neill in a ceremony at the capital, while three years before that Carl Philip's sister, Crown Princess Victoria, married Prince Daniel. As the heiress to the throne, Victoria's wedding was understandably the largest of the three celebrations, but there will be plenty of pageantry on display this weekend.

The wedding celebrations kick off on Friday with a private dinner for invited guests. Carl Philip's parents, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia will be on hosting duty.

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The couple have requested that well-wishers make a charitable donation to the Prince Couple's Foundation in lieu of any gifts



On Saturday, the nuptials will take place at 4:30pm local time in the palace's royal chapel. After, Carl Philip and Sofia will make their first public appearance as newlyweds, travelling in procession by horse and carriage. Troops from the army, air force and navy will be positioned along the route.

The newlyweds will then return back to the Logården, a garden in the royal palace, where they will be greeted by a 21-gun salute.

That evening, the royals will host a lavish dinner in the palace's White Sea Hall, followed by a night of dancing to the tunes of DJ Avicii and group Icona Pop.

8) The glittering guest list

European royal weddings are rarely small family affairs. The occasions are often an opportunity for the royal families of Europe to get together. There will be plenty of princes, princesses and of course royal jewels on display on Saturday with the guest list expected to include plenty of the next generation of royals.

Representing the UK will be Prince Edward and his wife, the Countess of Wessex, who frequently stand in for the Queen at overseas events.

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British, Danish and Norwegian royals will attend the special event



Princess Mary and Prince Frederik of Denmark have confirmed their attendance along with Prince Frederik's mother, Queen Margrethe. Other glamorous young royals expected to attend are Spain's King Felipe and Queen Letizia and Norway's Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit.

9) The charitable wedding gift alternative

There is probably very little that Carl Philip and Sofia actually need to start their new life together. They have requested that well-wishers make a charitable donation to the Prince Couple's Foundation in lieu of any gifts.

The foundation was set up specifically for the wedding and aims to promote and support children and youth in care and education.

10) Confidence in their shared future

After the wedding, Sofia will officially be known as HRH Princess Sofia, Duchess of Värmland. Having been with her prince for five years already, she is confident that she knows what to expect of her new family.

"I have spent many years with them, I know that life and know what is going to change. I'm ready, no surprises, I think it will be fine," she said in a recent interview. "I know it will," added Carl Philip.

Sofia has said that she is hoping to "do good" in her new role. She currently serves as the honorary chairman of Project Playground, a charity she co-founded in 2010 that offers free after-school activities, sports and support programs to children in need in South Africa.

"In my new role, I'm hoping to focus on issues that are important in society, to do good," Sofia has said in the past. "For example with the wedding, we've created a foundation that supports children and young people."

And it could be possible that in a few years there's a royal celebration of a different sort. The couple have said that they would soon like to start a family of their own.

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