Crown Princess Victoria Of Sweden's Husband: An Unlikely Match For The Royal

Sweden's royal family— the House of Bernadotte—dates back to 1810 when Karl XlV Johan was crowned king. Currently, King Carl XVl Gustaf and his wife Queen Silvia occupy the Palace of Drottningholm in Stockholm, the official family home. They have three children: Crown Princess Victoria (born in 1977), Prince Carl (born in 1979), and Princess Madeleine (born in 1982).

In the 1970s, Swedish officials started talking about changing the Succession Act to make it gender-neutral, as, at the time, the heir-apparent to the throne would be the king and queen's firstborn male. That didn't happen until 1980—three years after Princess Victoria's birth—but it was retroactive. Hence, Victoria became Crown Princess Victoria and is heir-apparent to the throne (via

So how did a "commoner," a former gym owner named Daniel Westling from a small town north of Stockholm, become Victoria's husband? Did the royal family immediately accept Westling? And how did royal watchers in Sweden receive this man, now known as Prince Daniel, Duke of Vaestergoetland? (per CNN).

Crown Princess Victoria was on an emotional journey

At age 20, Princess Victoria had grown weary of the spotlight that constantly shone on members of Sweden's much-adored royal family. She traveled to the U.S. and enrolled in classes at Yale University, where, according to the Swedish Embassy in Washington, she hoped to learn more about the world and work on her English language skills (via AP News).

It's also possible that she wanted to experience education in a different country because years later, when she was 27, Victoria revealed at a conference in Sweden that she'd been bullied in school due to her dyslexia. "I used to think I was stupid and slow," she said. "For me school was fun, but it was also very demanding. When one has reading and writing difficulties, it can be tough sometimes. It can sound like a simple problem, but it isn't. I know." (via the BBC)

While attending Yale in New Haven, Connecticut, Victoria studied Political Science for five semesters. She also worked at the United Nations in New York (per Hola!).

What is Daniel Westling's background, and how did he enter the royal picture?

As a child, Daniel Westling probably didn't imagine himself ever living in an ostentatious palace as a prince. He was raised in an unassuming rural town called Ockelbo, Sweden, along with his sister, Anna, where grassy fields and blue skies were as common as currency.

Westling began life as a sports fan, ended up spending some time in the Swedish military, and later became a personal trainer as well as a gym owner (via Hello!). His father worked in social services, and his mom found employment with the Swedish post office (via Huffpost).

According to, Westling and a business partner started a gym in Stockholm called Master Training to establish a place where celebrities of all stripes—including royals—could work out without having to worry about being harassed and harangued by the general public.

Daniel Westling supports Princess Victoria through health issues

Daniel Westling's Stockholm gym Master Training was an obvious choice for a Swedish princess looking for a place to work out. So, it's not too surprising that Westling became Princess Victoria's personal trainer. But there's much more to the story.

Sadly, Victoria had been battling a terrible eating disorder for quite a long time. She didn't say much in public about the disorder while she was struggling with it, but on a Swedish television program made in honor of her 40th birthday, Victoria revealed that, in addition to wanting to attend Yale, she'd also traveled to the U.S. at age 20 to seek help for the eating disorder.

"In the U.S.," she states on the T.V. program, "I got professional help, which was really important for me. Just learning to put words to feelings and thus, be able to set limits and to not push myself too much ... I wanted all the time so much more than I could do, or could be" (per Royal Central). But Victoria was not fully healed when she joined Westling's gym in 2001 (via The Sydney Morning Herald). According to The Guardian, Daniel Westling was instrumental in Victoria's recovery.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder, or know someone who is, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Not a match made in Swedish royalty heaven

Despite the couple's obvious affection for each other, Daniel Westling was still a commoner from the Swedish suburbs, and Princess Victoria was heir-apparent to the throne. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Westling didn't share the elite accent of the royals and their posh associates, and Victoria's friends mocked him. Perhaps more importantly, King Gustav wanted Victoria to marry a certain well-heeled Danish prince and was in no hurry to concede to her union with the gym owner.

Johan T. Lindwall, a Swedish journalist who has written extensively about the royals, claimed that Queen Silvia had confided to friends that she didn't expect Victoria to stay with Westling (via swedesinthestates).

Nor was the Swedish public particularly enamored with Westling or how he presented himself. As Daniel Nyhlen, royal correspondent for Svensk Dam magazine, explained to Donald at The Irish Times, "In the beginning, the public was a little hesitant about Daniel. Because he was not royal, because he was a personal trainer. He had this slacker style, he wore trucker caps and jeans." But Westling and Victoria persisted, determined to follow their hearts, regardless of what others said or believed.

The Makeover of Daniel Westling

As we've all learned from observing the travails of Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle in London, appearance, manners, and decorum matter to royals and royal watchers, and in more cases than not, all eyes are on royals anytime they step out into the public.

So, Daniel Westling was given a royal makeover! Remember Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady?" Well, Westling was subjected to a similar kind of training. He gained a new hairstyle, learned to dress like a prince, was tutored in various languages (including his native Swedish), and even schooled in various other "princely" behaviors (via HuffPost).

In 2008, royal watchers in Sweden couldn't help noticing that Westling had moved into an apartment in a section of Drottningholm Palace used as a rental property. Many speculated that the proximity to the royals had been arranged to help Daniel learn more quickly and effectively (via Unofficial Royalty).

King Gustaf and Queen Silvia eventually embraced their daughter's fiancé

Apparently, all the hard work paid off because in February 2009, when news broke that Daniel Westling had given Princess Victoria a ring and she'd accepted, both King Gustaf and Queen Silvia gave their approval and welcomed Westling to the royal family.

King Gustaf began, "There is something very special I would like to convey: namely, the public announcement today of the engagement of Crown Princess Victoria and Mr. Daniel Westling ... In the past years we have of course got to know Daniel and have understood that he is a young man who works hard and takes life seriously ... It is of course a special day for us but it is also a special day for Sweden" (via

Added Queen Silvia to Daniel, "We welcome Daniel into our family with open arms. I view him as a man who is humble yet decisive, as well as judicious and wise. You are full of energy, considerate and will make a wonderful husband for Victoria."

Love takes time

The joyful engagement of Daniel Westling to Princess Victoria of Sweden, after eight years of courtship, was announced in 2009 on Sweden's tv4. Most of the video is in Swedish, but the body language between the two lovely people makes it easy to see how much they care about each other. Here's a clip of the princess explaining in English why it took so long for the two to decide to marry. "It did take some time ... It is a quite different situation from most other situations ... On the other hand, we're now very certain of where we stand today."

According to, Princess Victoria also told the press (in Swedish) that although she didn't feel a "click" when she first set eyes on Westling, "Daniel and I had a great and well-founded friendship. It was a friendship that grew and turned into love."

To which Westling added, "Our friendship developed into love. It is the perfect personal chemistry."

Health issues for Daniel Westling

Finally, things for Daniel Westling and Princess Victoria seemed calmer. They were engaged, at peace with the king and queen, and excitedly planning their wedding. Then Westling began to suffer from kidney malfunction and underwent a transplant. And because he was preparing to marry the heir-apparent to the Swedish throne, he discussed his health scare with the public on Sweden's tv4 in May 2010.

According to Sweden's The Local (which translated Westling's comments into English), he said, "This is not something that is hereditary ... It was not something I had suffered from or even noticed ... My body has been cleansed. I have a new kidney that is cleaning the blood."

Five years later, in 2015, Westling revealed to the Swedish magazine Dagens Industri that the kidney donor was his father, Ollie Westling. He also said, "In the beginning, I didn't think it was very fun to talk about and it felt private, but I have realized that I need to be able to contribute in any way I can," he said. "My message is that if you are willing to receive an organ for yourself... then you must also be willing to give. Actually, it's that simple" (via Hello!).

The exorbitant royal wedding was challenged by many Swedes

Swedish kings and queens are figureheads with no authority to govern. Although, of course, like other European royals, they do have influence over their people (via The Christian Science Monitor).

In a progressive, egalitarian country like Sweden, not all taxpayers were enthusiastic about partially funding such an affair. Peter Althin, chair of the Swedish Republican Association, told the San Diego Union-Tribune, "People have woken up and are saying that this cannot be right; that in the 21st century we still haven't come further with equality."

The cost of the nuptials kept increasing, and the cathedral in Stockholm—where the ceremony would take place—also needed renovation. King Gustaf said he'd pay 50 percent of the wedding bills, but angry Swedes took little consolation since their taxes fund the royal bank account. They started a Facebook group called "Refuse to Pay for Victoria's Wedding" (via The Irish Times).

Daniel and Victoria appeared madly in love at their wedding

Per CNN, the afternoon ceremony uniting Daniel Westling and Princess Victoria was brief, and when it ended, the happy couple rode through the streets of Stockholm as a crowd of thousands cheered. Swedish sailors on ships in Stockholm's harbor saluted, and a formation of Swedish fighter planes flew overhead. And what's a royal wedding without royal attendees? Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex, England, were there, as well as Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito, Norway's King Harald, Jordan's King Abdullah, Queen Rania, and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands (via HuffPost).

Later on, at the wedding dinner, Daniel gave a beautiful speech about his wonderful new bride. He talked about Victoria's kindness and devotion to him and how once, when she had to leave him on royal business for thirty days, she stayed up all night writing him thirty letters, one for each day they'd be apart (via YouTube).

Finally, in this adorable clip, he discusses how he went from being "not a frog ... but certainly not a prince." He tells the crowd of dignitaries that his transformation could never have happened without the loving help of the king and queen. Prince Charming, indeed!

Prince Daniel helped continue the tradition of commoners marrying royalty

When movie star Grace Kelly wed Monaco's Prince Rainier lll in 1956, Life proclaimed it "the fairytale wedding of the century." In 2000, Australian advertising exec Mary Donaldson met Fredrik, the Crown Prince of Denmark, in a bar, and they married in 2004 (via People). And Great Britain has seen its share of royal weddings in which princes like William married Kate Middleton and Harry married Meghan Markle. Why is the concept of regular humans entering the ranks of royalty so fascinating? We don't know, but before his marriage to Princess Victoria, Daniel Westling clearly understood the magnitude of what lay ahead for him.

Prior to his wedding in 2010, he told CNN, "The queen's main task is to support the king, and in my case, it is to support the crown princess in their very important work ... If I can do it in the same way the queen does, I would be more than satisfied. That is my goal long term."

Prince Daniel was thrilled to become a father

When you're the spouse of the heir-apparent to your country's throne, the public obviously can't resist hoping adorable, royal children will sooner rather than later be part of the picture. So, the country was naturally ecstatic when Princess Victoria announced her pregnancy, and ultimately gave birth to Princess Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary on February 23, 2012 — who is now second in line to the Swedish throne.

"This is a new situation, something you never experienced before. To deliver the baby is always associated with certain risks, but everything has gone exceptionally well," Prince Daniel announced to the Swedish press (via People).

When child number two, a boy named Oscar, arrived on March 2, 2016, Daniel was equally delighted (via Unofficial Royalty). According to Royal Central, both of the children are expected to attend the Campus Manilla School in order to refine their education.

The Prince Daniel and Princess Victoria vehemently decry divorce rumors

Throughout history, royals around the world have been plagued by rumors about almost all aspects of their behavior. And although some rumors do turn out to be accurate, many are simply speculation by nosy and jealous individuals. So, when Swedish tabloids began implying that Daniel Westling and Princess Victoria may be considering divorce after being married for over 10 years, the prince and princess took to Instagram to assure the world these rumors were completely unfounded.

"It has come to our attention that there is an extensive negative rumor being spread regarding our private relationship," a translation from Swedish read. "Allegations are spreading about betrayal in the relationship and an impending divorce. Normally, we do not comment on rumors and speculation. But in order to protect our family, we wish to make it clear, once and for all, that the rumors that are now spreading are completely baseless. Victoria and Daniel" (via Hello!).

Prince Daniel takes royal life seriously while pursuing his personal aspirations

After over 22 years of marriage, Prince Daniel has never lost sight of his royal responsibilities. For example, following the recent death of Queen Elizabeth ll in England, Queen Silvia and King Gustaf traveled to Windsor to pay their respects, while Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel lit candles in Elizabeth's memory in Stockholm (via Town & Country). But long before he was a prince, Daniel Westling was a young entrepreneur who dreamed of owning gyms. Hence, he has started a fellowship to help others realize their visions.

According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences," The idea of Prince Daniel's Fellowship is to inspire young people to become entrepreneurs and to support ambitious young entrepreneurs in growing their businesses." 

Prince Daniel and Princess Victoria also take a keen interest in the health and well-being of Swedish youth. Through the Crown Princess Couple's Foundation, they work to ensure good health and prevent exclusion of any child (via Finally, Prince Daniel and Princess Victoria have launched another foundation—named after their daughter, Princess Estelle—to promote cultural activities throughout Sweden (via Hello!).