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A day spent in the presence of royal people

WORTHINGTON -- The wedding has come and gone. No invitation.

Her royal highness, Victoria, crown princess of Sweden and heir to Sweden's throne, was married June 16 to her physical trainer, Daniel Westling, a commoner, as it is said. Daniel no doubt has great hands. Victoria's secret.

Victoria is 32. There were Swedes who believed this most lovely woman with long dark brown hair and dark eyes and beautiful ears and beautiful teeth -- there were Swedes who believed this princess never would be married. Now she is. Her groom is 36.

Oh, and the crowd at the wedding. I suppose you read about them. The king of Jordan, the queen of Spain. The crown prince of Japan and the crown prince of Denmark. The king of the Belgians and the queen of the Netherlands. Prince Albert II of Monaco and Prince Edward of Britain. Hundreds of mere dukes and earls. Nine hundred fifty invited guests.

You don't see many weddings like this.

I said, above, "No invitation." Did I actually expect one? No, no, no, no. But the royal marriage brought to mind one of my most unlikely experiences in my years at the Daily Globe. I spent much of a morning with the bride's parents, the king and queen of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustav and Sylvia.

The experience seemed unreal at the time. It seems more unreal with the passing of years. Twenty-seven years. Nov. 15, 1982. Princess Victoria was a 4-year-old at the time. She stayed home, I suppose with a sitter, probably not the lady next-door.

A week or 10 days in advance of the royal appearance, notice came on the Daily Globe's Associated Press wire that Sweden's king and queen would spend much of a day on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College at St. Peter. Joe Rossi was photographer for the Globe at that time.

"Joe." I said, "you want to take some pictures of the King of Sweden?"

"Sure," said Joe. This may have been the longest sentence Joe spoke that day. He was given to cameras, not to words. We had to make special applications for passes. All was cleared. Maybe by 7 on a sunny, chill, pre-snow morning -- a Swedish morning -- Joe and I were on our way.

We arrived, as we planned, at the end of the indoor ceremonies when the King and Queen were scheduled to be on the campus outside. They both were 39 in that year. Never before that day and never since have I been in the presence of royal people.

The King had sharp features, a sculptured profile that was made to be stamped "heads" on Swedish riksdalers. He wore sunglasses the whole time he was outside and he made an appearance of not being aware of people around him, save for the college people who were his hosts. I did not believe he was unaware, however. Often he stood apart, back erect, shoulders squared. He was wearing a military-like trench coat. He made heroic poses for the cameras.

The Queen has ever been known for her good looks. Princess Victoria has her beauty from her mother. Queen Sylvia's father, Herr Sommerlath, was German. Her mother Brazilian. She met the King at the 1972 Munich Olympics where she was an interpreter.

Queen Sylvia, wearing a dark fur coat and a scarlet hat, had the biggest role at Guatavus Adolphus. She unveiled a sculpture of a sea nymph that the couple gave to the college as a memorial of their visit.

Joe and I -- everyone -- picked out the security guys, two athletes with sunglasses who sometimes walked on either side of the royal pair and sometimes just a step behind. They watched Joe and I closely but they seemed not to be concerned. I was taking pictures, too. It was a rare chance.

I never spent so much time in the presence of the leader of any land. Certainly I never was so close to a president of the United States.

There came a time -- well, what are you going to do with two dozen pictures of the King of Sweden? The royals were called to lunch.

Our work was done.

"You think we'll remember this day, Joe?"


Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.