Monday, 21 June 2010

New books: A tabloid newspaper in hard covers

The Swedish royal wedding on Saturday has occasioned a flood of royal books, including three books on the bride by three tabloid journalists: Catarina Hurtig, Herman Lindqvist and Johan T. Lindwall. While Herman Lindqvist’s Victoria – Drottning med tiden was a sycophantic panegyric, Johan T. Lindwall has in his book Victoria – Prinsessan privat almost chosen to collect what his employer Expressen has written about the Crown Princess over the years.
One only needs to read the first sentence – “Victoria again felt that feeling” – to realise how unreliable this book is. Not only is the author able to tell us what the Crown Princess felt inside her as she walked to Drottningholm Palace from her own home, he will also tell us what King Carl Gustaf did, said and thought while alone in the kitchen, what Princess Madeleine whispered to her sister or what Victoria and Daniel said to each other on the phone. These are all things Lindwall cannot possibly know.
He starts with the dinner where the Crown Princess first told her family about Daniel Westling and then goes back to 1995, the year she turned eighteen and he started covering the royal family as a journalist. That chapter is perhaps the best part of the book as the story of how he experienced his first meetings with the royals and the court’s press department is told in a rather entertaining way – particularly his portrayal of the then head of the press department, Elisabeth Tarras-Wahlberg, is worth a smile.
But from then on it goes downhill again. Her birth, childhood, school years and youth are dealt with quite summarily, always with a focus on the problematic issues, such as her dyslexia and her eating disorder. Her previous relationship with Daniel Collert takes up much space before the rest of the book is devoted to her relationship with Daniel Westling. And Lindwall’s version of that story is well-known: how she had to fight her parents, in particular the King, for years to win their acceptance for her boyfriend.
Throughout the book Lindwall casts himself in the role as some sort of special confidante of Victoria’s, the journalist she would take aside to tell the truth when the others were not there. “I and Victoria [yes, in that order] have talked about her dyslexia many times”, we learn. When he bursts in on her alone with Daniel Westling playing golf, “Victoria lit up” when she saw him, he assures us.
Lindwall will occasionally contradict himself. He tells us that Victoria changed from the Smedslätt school in Bromma to Enskilda gymnasiet in 1990, but between these two schools she attended another (Carlssons) – which Lindwall gets right another place in the same book. On page 190 Lindwall tells us that on the day of the engagement (24 February 2009) he had “naturally no idea” that Daniel had a kidney disease, a fact which he repeats when he meets Daniel the next day on page 193. But when he undergoes the kidney transplant three months later, Lindwall tells us on page 200: “I had known about Daniel Westling’s kidney problem for a long time. I knew from friends of the couple that Daniel was not doing well. That there had been talk of a possible transplant on several occasions”. So “a long time” must be less than three months.
And then there are all the silly mistakes. There is no “Princess Christina Magnuson”, Princess Cristina of Spain married in Barcelona, not Madrid, and the current king was not an “almost two-year-old crown prince” at the time his father died, but a nine-months-old prince. And the name of Daniel’s mother is not spelt correctly even once.
A press announcement becomes “a personal speech” and it is odd to read that people suddenly started to see Victoria as “the future heir to the throne” as she has actually been the heir to the throne since 1980. When Prince Bertil is buried Princess Lilian places a bouquet of lilies of the valley on his coffin, “picked at home at Djurgården” Lindwall adds although this is plainly impossible as the funeral took place in mid-January.
And then there is the hyperbole which characterises the tabloid manner of this book. When Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling kneel before the altar of the Cathedral “a new phase of their life and a new chapter of Sweden’s history begins”, the book ends. Although a royal wedding is a nice thing its significance is certainly not big enough to make it a watershed in the country’s history.


  1. Well, Johan T. Lindwall might be one of the better tabloid journalists, as he doesn't even pretend to be plausible, so that it's safe to enjoy his soap-opera fantasies without the nagging feeling that he's being taken seriously.

    Although, regarding Daniel's mother's name: Even the royal court and the Swedish media can't decide whether it's Ewa (full name Ewa Kristina) or Eva (full name Anna Kristina Eva). Prince Daniel's biography and the wedding guest lists say the former, Daniel Westling's engagement bio and Swedish online databases say the latter. The Swedish media also claimed her birth surname was Westring(sic); this would be an odd coincidence if true, and Henriksson is a more likely guess - there are several Henrikssons (and no Westrings) among Daniel's relatives, and the respective Henrikssons' reported ages make it unlikely that they are all one family.

    But, as the groom named himself Olof Daniel in his vows, while his biography says he's Daniel Olof, I suppose the names of relatives would be even more difficult to find out than the name of a prince.

  2. No, Henriksson is not Ewa Westling's maiden name. Ewa Westling is the daughter of the late John Einar Westring, whose grandfather adopted the Westring name.

    Anita Henriksson is her sister, who acquired that name by marrying Olle Henriksson. The other Henrikssons attending the wedding, Tommy and Hans, are their sons and thus Prince Daniel's first cousins.

    The reason why there were no Westrings attending the wedding is apparently that Prince Daniel's mother has no brothers and that both she and her sister adopted their husband's surnames when they married. Thus there were no closely related Westrings to invite - if so it would have to be distant relatives like first cousins of Ewa Westling and second cousins of Prince Daniel.

  3. I appreciate the correction, Trond; rereading a news article about his relatives, it looks like I mistook a Westling for a Henriksson. May I ask you where you found the information about his family? I'd be interested in learning more about his relations.

    Do you have confirmation for the "Ewa" version of Mrs. Westling's given name, by the way?

  4. The information at (and similar databases) is as far as I know based on Folkbokföringen (the National Register), and Prince Daniel's mother's given names are spelt Anna Kristina Eva.


  5. Both a few days before the wedding and in connection with the banns of marriage Swedish newspapers explained who was who among Prince Daniel's relatives attending.

    Regarding his ancestry I have just made an independent blogpost about it as a response to your question.

    But no, I do not have independent confirmation that it is indeed eWa - I assumed the Royal Court was to be trusted about that, but perhaps one should not be so sure about that given the mess they made out of much of the press material they gave out...

  6. Thank you, Trond. I admit I've found it impossible to keep up with the deluge of Swedish-language royal coverage in recent weeks, but fortunately the English-language blogs and boards have been a great help...

  7. Hi!
    Where can I buy your books? And to which address of yours do I send mine!?

    Have a look at and e-mail me on!

    Regards Catarina Hurtig

  8. Sorry for my late reply, I have been abroad. I think the easiest (and cheapest) way for a Swede to get hold of my books would be to order them from Adlibris:

  9. Hallo. Har hatt kontakt med Øystein Sørensen på leiting etter informasjon om det danske kongehus, og fekk denne adressa. Vil gjerne ha stilt nokre spørsmål, men pr. e-brev. Kanskje du kan hjelpa ...

  10. OK, mail gjerne noen spørsmål og et par ord om prosjektet ditt til trondni @ (fjern mellomrom).


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