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5 royal romances that blossomed at the Olympics

The Games hold special memories for these couples

royal romances olympics
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mary and frederik© Photo: Getty Images

The Olympics hold a special place in many royals' hearts, but for some, more so than others. 

For some royals, a chance meeting led to romance, and eventually marriage and children.

HELLO! takes a look at the royals who fell in love at the Olympics...

READ: When royals get caught up in the Olympic spirit - 12 fun photos

Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark

The future King of Denmark met his wife in a crowded Sydney pub, the Slip Inn, on 16 September 2000, while visiting the city for the Olympics, introducing himself only as 'Fred'. 

A friend of one of Mary's friends, Beatrice Tarnawski, had arranged an informal evening out for Bruno Gómez-Acebo, nephew of King Juan Carlos of Spain, who brought along Prince Nikolaos of Greece, Prince Frederik, who was with his brother Joachim, and Princess Martha Louise of Norway.

Not that ad agency exec Mary was aware she was in royal company until about 30 minutes into her light-hearted encounter with the group.

Three years after that chance meeting the couple became engaged, with Frederik giving his fiancée an emerald-cut diamond flanked by two rubies in colours that reflected Denmark's national flag.

To mark the Prince's 40th birthday, a book was published in which he spoke of their romance.

"It was love at first sight," he said in Frederik – Crown Prince of Denmark. "As soon as I saw her, I really felt she was a soulmate."

WATCH: Princess Anne wishes Team GB good luck for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden

At a party during the 1972 Munich Olympics, the heir to one of Europe's most ancient thrones spotted an official hostess, who as a trained interpreter fluent in five languages, was there to take care of guests.

The chance meeting led to a lasting love match, of which Carl Gustaf would tell reporters: "When I first saw her it said 'click' and it has kept clicking ever since."

However, courtiers put pressure on their young King to consider marrying a Swedish noblewoman. Silvia was of German and Brazilian descent.

The pair continued dating discreetly but in 1974 amid unbearable speculation, Silvia fled to Montreal, ostensibly to prepare for the Olympics due to take place two years later.

Carl Gustaf stayed true, however, and placed his late mother's ring on Silvia's hand, presenting her to the press as the future Queen. Asked by reporters why she, above all others, had caught his attention, the monarch seemed to blush, replying: "Well she is Silvia. You can see for yourself."

The couple went on to have three children and their love story came full circle when their eldest daughter Crown Princess Victoria wed Daniel Westling on 19 June 2010, the 34th anniversary of Carl Gustaf and Silvia's marriage.

MORE: 7 royals who have competed in the Olympic Games

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Prince Albert and Princess Charlene of Monaco

The nuptials of Prince Albert and Princess Charlene in summer 2011 were a grand affair, and the couple had actually moved their original date forward several days to avoid a clash with a meeting of "our friends in the Olympic family".

Now parents to six-year-old twins Gabriella and Jacques, the pair had had their first date ten years earlier, at the Mare Nostrum competition in the principality, when South African swimmer Charlene was only 22. Albert was himself an enthusiastic sportsman who'd competed at bobsleigh in five consecutive Winter Olympics, and the pair hit it off.

"It was incredibly flattering," Charlene told Vogue. "After seeing me swim, Albert asked my management for permission to take me out. We spent the whole evening laughing and talking."

Because of the fact that Charlene was still competing, it was another five years before they reconnected and began a relationship in earnest.

"Our first public appearance was at the Turin Olympic Games in 2006. Albert put me at ease," Charlene recalled later, talking about her entry into the spotlight. "It was clear that we shared the same passions; we both became very emotional watching the athletes. Sport is the common denominator of our lives."

MORE: Meet the Olympic athletes going for gold on Team GB

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Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips

In 1971, the year she turned 21, Princess Anne, the only daughter of the Queen, was a spirited aristocratic beauty blessed with the Windsors' famously bone dry sense of humour and her father Prince Philip's 'get on with it' gene.

Even more admirable as far as Mark, a graduate of Sandhurst military academy, was concerned, she was a top flight equestrian. That year, the Princess's competitive nature helped her win both the European Eventing Championship and BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Captain Phillips himself was part of the British team that rode off with gold at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

During their engagement interview in 1973, Mark was asked if he had been nervous about proposing to a Princess. "The fact that the girl in question is a Princess makes no difference at all. If you get married to someone, it's a very personal thing and the two of you feel it and it’s completely natural," he said.

Sadly the marriage wasn't to last, but one of their two children, Zara, is also an equestrian. She won a silver medal with the British eventing team at the 2012 Olympics, and was presented with her medal by her mother.

MORE: Prince William surprises Team GB boxer Lauren Price and the video will bring tears to your eyes

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Infanta Cristina of Spain and Iñaki Urdangarin

Four years before Sydney, at the 1996 Atlanta Games, King Juan Carlos's daughter Cristina set eyes on the love of her life. 

The towering star of the national handball team, he competed for his country in three Olympics and holds two bronze medals. Cristina had also represented Spain, as a member of the sailing team at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.

In 1997, the King gave his daughter away at their glittering wedding in Barcelona. The couple have gone on to have four children, and their love has endured, despite controversy surrounding Iñaki's business dealings. 

In June 2018, he was sentenced to five years and ten months imprisonment for embezzlement, influence-peddling and tax fraud.

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