The Royal Wedding of the Year?

Even before this much-anticipated spectacle of bell-ringing and protocol, of rustling lace and crimson carpets, it is clear that Swedes are just like the rest of us when it comes to wedding gifts.

After a torturous eight years of waiting, after the objections of her strict father and after overcoming life-threatening illnesses -- in her case bulimia and in his a kidney transplant -- Crown Princess Victoria and her former fitness instructor Daniel Westling are finally about to say "I do" to each other, and what do they get? Practical gifts.

According to Swedish custom, which is also practiced in the royal family, wedding gifts are unpacked and presented before the actual wedding, apparently because the soon-to-be newlyweds can hardly wait to get their hands on their new mixer.

Royal Wedding
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In the case of Sweden's royal wedding pair, those practical gifts consist of several crates of drinking glasses, a cabinet full of bed linens and monogrammed towels, several spa weekends, a year of free electricity for their palace in Haga, a district of Gothenburg, and a green wooden horse.

A green wooden horse? Where was that again in the Ikea catalog? In any event, it's an unusual gift, and it will probably quickly end up in the place where those particularly funny, poetic and bulky wedding gifts always end up and gather dust: The basement. Because Crown Princess Victoria, the daughter of Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and his German wife Silvia née Sommerlath, who is from Heidelberg, is everything but unusual.

A Feat of Courtship Endurance

Unlike Norwegian Crown Princess Mette-Marit, who also comes from a middle-class family, and who had a somewhat checkered past before meeting and marrying Prince Haakon, Victoria took her time after seeing Daniel working out on a strength-training machine for the first time. But then the relationship grew.

She was as single-minded in developing her relationship as tennis legend Björn Borg once was on the baseline. She set her sights on her Daniel and, in a long, grueling match, finally got him. The entire country took an interest in this world record for endurance, and now the global media want to at least benefit from it.

Some 2,300 journalists are expected in Stockholm. The royal court is almost worried that media representatives will outnumber the ordinary people lining the streets. All good camera angles have already been determined. There are no exclusive rights. After all, this isn't some show-business or country-gentry wedding. In Germany, the ZDF public television network alone will be broadcasting live, on Saturday from 2:30 to 7:00 p.m. A documentary the station already aired about the wedding had outstanding viewer ratings. German television station Phoenix will also be involved, and private broadcaster RTL will follow up with a summary.

Meanwhile ARD, Germany's other major public broadcasting network, is competing with its broadcasts of the football World Cup. Rarely have the target groups been this clearly defined: Half of the world is watching kicks while the other half is watching kings. The royal reporters from publications like Neue Post, a gossipy German weekly, to Frau Mit Herz (Women with Hearts), another weekly German magazine specializing in news of the aristocracy among other things, have already been raving about the event for months.

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