Sweden’s royals will soon be welcoming an American into the family, after the royal court announced Thursday the engagement of Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill, a wealthy New York financier.
The brown-haired, blue-eyed princess described O’Neill as her “soulmate” and said he had opened her heart — perhaps reflecting her heartbreak after a previous engagement was called off in 2010 amid reports of infidelity by her then fiance.
Princess Madeleine Therese Amelie Josephine, to give her full name, is the youngest child of Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia and fourth in line to the Scandanavian nation’s throne.
The couple, who live in New York, met through mutual friends, Madeleine said, in an interview released by the royal court along with the engagement announcement.
Madeleine, 30, said they had been great friends at first before romance blossomed, sharing the same humor and having “a lot of fun together.”
“I appreciate Chris for his warmth and his humor. He has a very big heart and he manages to make everyone in his presence feel good. Christopher is a very thoughtful and generous person,” she said.
Love struck quicker for O’Neill, who said that “from the very outset, I immediately felt something special with Madeleine.”
Princess Madeleine said the proposal, earlier this month, had been “very romantic and intimate” but that they wanted to keep the details to themselves.
O’Neill, who has dual British-American citizenship, confirmed he had taken the traditional route and asked her father, the king, for her hand in marriage.
The king gave his consent and “requested the approval by the Swedish Government, in accordance with the procedures set out in the Swedish Constitution,” the court announcement said.
Queen Silvia is quoted by Swedish daily newspaper Aftonbladet as saying: “The princess is very happy and so are we. He is a real dream-son-in-law.”
The wedding will take place in summer 2013 but a date has not yet been announced.
O’Neill may have been reassured by the fact he’s not the first commoner to marry into Sweden’s royal family in recent years.
Madeleine’s elder sister, Crown Princess Victoria,wed her former personal trainer in june 2010. Gym owner Daniel Westling was given the title Prince Daniel, Duke of Vaestergoetland, on their marriage. The couple had a daughter in February who became second in line to the throne of Sweden, as the first grandchild of the king and queen.
O’Neill, 38, says he is still working on learning Swedish but has been given a warm welcome by the royal family.
“I felt part of the family right from the very beginning. Madeleine’s family is very warm and we have a very good time when we all see each other,” he said.
Born in London, where his late father Paul O’Neill was posted from his native New York, Christopher was educated at a Swiss boarding school before gaining an MBA from Columbia Business School in New York, according to an official biography provided by the Swedish court.
A 16-year career within the field of finance followed. He is currently a partner and head of research at Noster Capital, which has offices in New York and London — as well as being a keen sportsman and Chelsea Football Club fan.
His mother, Eva Maria O’Neill, is quoted by the court as saying: “As the mother of Christopher O’Neill I am delighted at the happy news. I look forward to welcoming Princess Madeleine, who I am very fond of, into our family. I wish them both all possible happiness.”
The couple will remain in New York for the time being but have not ruled out a move to Sweden in future.
Madeleine reportedly moved to New York in 2010 to get over her split from ex-fiance Jonas Bergstrom, which came just two months before her sister’s wedding.
The broken tryst followed reports that Bergstrom was “intimate” with a Norwegian college student and handball star while they were engaged.