The Royal Wedding of the Year?

A Spectacle of Solidity in Uncertain Times

Alexander von Schönburg, the brother of the Germany's best internationally known aristocrat, Princess Gloria of Thurn and Taxis, and a writer for the tabloid newspaper Bild, has been preparing the German masses for the happy end with a series he has been writing since last week. Experience has shown that such private moments of bliss cause a substantial spike in circulation among the tabloid press, which has been in crisis of late.

But if there is anything to marvel at when it comes to this wedding -- which, with an anticipated 500 million TV viewers, promises to be another royal TV blockbuster -- it is not about Snow White's quick charm, but instead the triumph of a tough will. Because Victoria is the opposite of Lady Di.

If that royal wedding was all about the look, then this one is about the spectacle of solidity in economically and politically uncertain times. The world is on the brink of chaos, and this couple is a solid anchor. It is the excess of normality and the promise of a middle-class way of life that distinguishes Scandinavian royal families, the promise that it's worthwhile to be real.

Victoria is authentic. Her love is authentic. Her fiancé is authentic.

A Commoner And 'An Outstanding Athlete'

The royal court, and the king, in particular, was initially appalled by her choice. This Daniel Westling had no money, no education and no family (which, among the aristocracy, means that his family name doesn't appear in the Almanac de Gotha, a former directory of European nobility and royalty).

But over the years, everyone has increasingly been impressed. The young man didn't show the slightest tendency toward malice or the sort of lightheadedness to which the daughters of Monaco's royal family once regularly succumbed. But that country, too, is ruled by little more than a pirate dynasty.

Westling, though no shining light in an academic sense, was an outstanding athlete. He comes from Ockelbo, a town of 3,000 people living in red wooden houses in a remote forested area north of Stockholm -- bear and elk country. Last year, remote farms in the region were plagued by hungry wolves roaming through the area and killing house pets.

The mother of the groom worked at the post office and the father for the social security office. The only prominent member of the family is former weightlifting world champion Susanne Formgren, who now runs the local gym. That was the world of Daniel Westling. And it was the challenge faced by a team of specialists consisting of teachers and etiquette consultants, whose job was to turn the jewel of the princess's heart into a diamond suitable for gala appearances.

They taught Westling to converse about the weather in English, German and French, and not to bang on the table during state banquets and shout: "Enjoy your meal!"

New Prince Will Always Be a Step Behind Future Queen

Westling was apparently particularly interested in the history of the Swedish kings. Does this make him suspect? No, because he can never become a king himself. Victoria -- to his chagrin, as some claim -- has already made this clear to him. His title will be -- and will remain -- Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland. Not bad for a fitness instructor.

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