The Prince of Sweden and the topless model
Prince Carl Philip’s romance with model Sofia Hellqvist is just the latest Nordic royal surprise
Sweden is agog at the news that its second in line to the throne, Prince Carl Philip, has begun dating a glamour model who once posed in a lads' mag wearing no more than a thong and a live python.
The playboy prince took up with Sofia Hellqvist after splitting from his girlfriend of 10 years, Emma Pernauld, last year. The pair reportedly met at the exclusive resort of Bastad, in southern Sweden, during the summer and since then they have been on secret domestic holidays, and even visited New York together.
They have been eager to keep their relationship out of the public eye and so far the royal family has declined to comment on reports about the romance. It is claimed that Carl Philip has met Hellqvist's family, but she has yet to become acquainted with any other Swedish royals.
The 30-year-old is one of the most eligible bachelors in Europe, if not the world, and was placed ninth in a list of "the 20 Hottest Young Royals" by Forbes magazine in 2008. Princes William and Harry came in first and second.
After splitting from Pernauld in early 2009 Carl Philip became a regular on the party circuit. "He's a racing car driver and a bit of a wild child. But he has also designed his own range of cutlery and he's studying at an agricultural college in southern Sweden," a royal watcher told the Daily Telegraph.
Hellqvist, 25, appeared on the reality TV show, Paradise Hotel - similar to the British programme Love Island - in which contestants would compete to find romance on a tropical island. The infamous picture of Hellqvist with a python draped over her shoulders appeared in the unfortunately-named magazine, Slitz.
Although the romance has shocked many, it is by no means the first time a royal has had his head turned by an eyecatching member of the opposite sex. In the 1980s much of Britain was scandalised by Prince Andrew's relationship with actress Koo Stark, who had appeared in the erotic film Emily.
In Sweden Carl Philip's older sister Crown Princess Victoria, who is heir to the throne, will marry her commoner boyfriend, gym-owner Daniel Westling this summer. He has been accepted by the nation after some initial misgivings.
And if Hellqvist has designs on becoming a princess herself she can take heart from the success of other unorthodox Nordic royal marriages. Former Australian advertising exec Mary Donaldson overcame scepticism in Denmark before marrying Crown Prince Frederik in 2004. They met in a bar at the Sydney Olympics. And in 2001 Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon married former wild child and single mother Mette-Marit Tjessem Hoiby - shocking many Norwegians. ·
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