Review: Madeleine : Prinsessan privat

Madeleine : Prinsessan privat by Johan T Lindwall
I’m not sure I will ever get used to the Swedish royal reporters’ way of writing biographies. First of all – there is too much inference of what the persons in this book were thinking about specific events. Another reviewer said that a problem with it is that with Johan T. Lindwall you never quite know what are the facts, what are the rumours and what is pure speculation, and I thought *that’s it*: that is my basic problem with the book. There are no citations or footnotes at the end, so you can tell when he is working from the facts from interviews, or other books. Obviously, he also has to protect his sources, and when the sources are the main persons themselves, he is diligent about reporting who said what.  It does however, resort in a slight muddle when you hear about “Queen Silvia thought…” and the people in the room with Queen Silvia at the time were just family… and none of whom are being quoted as the person talking to Lindwall.

But unlike the Princess Sibylla biography and the Queen Ingrid biography I read a while ago, this actually partially redeems itself in that it is not overly fawning in the writing. Lindwall tries to explain the events of Madeleine’s life, and it is both positive and negative things that come out on the page.

As an overview of Madeleine’s life, it is actually quite interesting, and troubling to some degree. The media pressure started too early, and the Swedish court was not prepared for it – leading to a decided lack of interest in being in the media’s spotlight. If you have followed Madeleine through the media, most of it probably won’t be new.

I end up with an impression that the case of “the Princess Madeleine” as she appears to the Swedish people is, a lot of the time, the result of the parents and the Swedish court not knowing to handle her in the difficult teens, and early 20s (and partially not even today) and the “fact” of the party princess, the princess who loves the luxury life, remains. Allegedly, Silvia tried to stop the Stureplan partying for that precise reason when Madeleine first started, but was unable to present it in a manner that Madeleine understood.

What also seem odd is that of all the siblings, she is also allegedly the one who takes school things quick – and got a degree. But she never did anything with the degree, as the time she graduated was also the time of the engagement of Victoria and Daniel and her own broken engagement. Through the book, and from you remember reading in the press, “Princess Madeleine” ends up looking like either a wasted resource for the Swedish royal house, or a waste of someone who could have had a career outside it.

A lot of the time, the book is driven forward by Lindwall’s ability to be in the right place at the right time when it comes to the Swedish royals. Especially when Madeleine moved to New York.

The book also dwelves into the relationship between Madeleine and Sofia.

According to the author, Madeleine and Sofia does not get along – and Madeleine, Silvia and Victoria spent quite some time in the beginning of Carl Philip’s relationship trying to persuade him to break it off. (Lindwall actually blames the timing for the relationship continuing – with the trouble the King was in over his infidelity accusations, he did not put a stop to the relationship of his son.) Allegedly, the only reason for why Chris and Sofia were invited to Estelle’s christening was because Sofia insisted that Carl Philip have the king invite her, if not she would break up with him. When Madeleine found out Sofia was invited, she wanted to have Chris there although that meant a long flight for him for a very short time in Sweden.

According to the author, the Swedish court started a press strategy to combat the rumours that Madeleine and Sofia does not get along, which included a public lunch meeting between the two and Carl Philip – but in the way it is written, you can tell that journalist and Madeleine know very well that she has been asked to put on a smile for when they are together.

Expressen (and Lindwall continues the story here) wrote that Madeleine had originally planned on having her friends as bridesmaids at her wedding.

“Madeleine had already planned who would be bridesmaids at her wedding, when Carl Philip came and asked if Sofia Hellqvist could not be one of the bridesmaids. Madeleine did not understand any of it, but she quickly grasped that he was serious in his request. He really wanted Sofia to be one of Madeleine’s bridesmaids up there at the altar. Madeleine had first believed it to be a jest from her big brother and explained to him that she had no plans to have Sofia as a bridesmaid. She had already decided who it would be. […] The next day Madeleine met her brother and his Sofia. It only took a couple of minutes into the meeting before Sofia Hellqvist broke down. She began crying and couldn’t see why Madeleine did not want her up with her by the altar. She snorted loudly and soon Carl Philip had to sit down with her and comfort her. Madeleine did not understand. For her it was unthinkable that Sofia Hellqvist should be a bridesmaid, but Sofia clearly had a different view. For minutes Sofia cried loudly and it went so far that Carl Philip on one occasion wanted to go to Silvia to tell her what had happened. He was going to tattle how mean he thought Madeleine was being to Sofia.

But Madeleine was quite calm when she heard his threat about running to Mummy to tattle. She had told Silvia in advance who she planned to be in the wedding party. Mummy knew Sofia was not on the list.

The crying kept on for an hour. Carl Philip and Sofia viewed the fact that Madeleine had planned on choosing her brother’s ex-girlfriend as one of her bridesmaids as an injustice. […]

In the worst case scenario, Madeleine thought, she would drop having bridesmaids. Rather that, than have Sofia Hellqvist up alongside her by the altar. She hesitated on letting someone else ruin her big day.”

pp. 339-341

It is not clear how Lindwall heard about the latter meetings, where they were – or anything – and it is an example of how a gossip/court reporter writes a book.

Overall, I think that there is a lot of speculation in the book (author is a journalist) but it is quick and easy to read. (Unfortunately, it is in Swedish.)


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