“The Crown Princess waved at me!”
– Son, outside the Royal Castle in Stockholm, June 19, 2010 at 6 pm
We made the trek from our Stockholm suburbia to downtown Stockholm, the self-proclaimed Capital of Scandinavia, now, thanks to the Royal Wedding also doubling as the love capital of the world. The subway ride was free partly to make sure no idiot – especially a Finnish-born idiot – would decide to drive to the city, and partly because the Princess herself wanted to keep her wedding as environmentally friendly as possible.
It was so environmentally friendly, and sympathetically down to Earth in a very Swedish kind of way, that the night before the wedding, all Royal, Imperial, and other Highnesses got to ride a Stockholm bus to the fabulous blue house, the Concert Hall, just one kilometer from the Royal Castle, for a warmup event.
We had watched the wedding on TV at home, and about halfway through it, right after they had said “ja” to each other, we packed the camera and some clothes into a backpack, and hit the road. We missed a bus by about four seconds, and when switching to another subway line, Wife stopped me from trying to keep the closing doors open with my arm.
She was probably right, as Son has just stopped talking about the New York man who tried to do the same, and, well, it looked bad.
Anyway, these two events made us miss the Prince and Princess’s carriage cortege by a minute.
Wife, feeling a special connection to the Princess, as the two are the same age, was disappointed. Even though I don’t feel a special connection to Prince Daniel, despite the fact that he’s from Ockelbo and I’m from Åggelby, and that we both are former minor league hockey players, I know how to keep my queen happy, so we decided to keep walking towards the Castle, “to get a feel of the whole event.”
The new prince, Prince Daniel, said in his speech that he probably wasn’t a frog before he met Victoria, but not a prince, either. Must be weird being a prince now. Not many people have their life goal to get married to a princess.
When I was in sixth grade, our school nurse thought I was the smartest boy around. I know that because she told me so. I was a quiet, well-behaved little kid, who answered politely to all her questions, and apparently those are the makings of a good President.
At least she thought so. And I know that because every time I visited her, she told me that I was such a great kid that I’d surely grow up to be the President of Finland.
I think it’s safe to say that she was wrong about that. The closest I’ve got to President was when I almost bumped into Tarja Halonen’s strawberry ice cream as she was walking up Aleksanterinkatu in downtown Helsinki. Only, back then, she was still the minister of foreign affairs.
In fact, I’ve had a better go with my career as King. Ten years ago, when I had just met my princess, we took her little sister out to the Stockholm Old Town, to eat the traditional Swedish semlor, those whipped cream filled buns we eat in February. I was goofing around – come on, we all know that the best way to impress women is to be nice to their relatives – so I told her that I was King of Finland.
“Well, have you ever heard of the King of Finland? Nobody’s claimed that title, so I just did.”
“Wow,” she said, not really knowing what to believe.
She was twelve.
When I proposed to Wife, on New Year’s Eve in 2005, a few minutes on the side of 2006, I was prepared for a no, as well. And my clumsy excuse to a proposal was so clumsy that Wife had to ask me if what I had just said was, in fact, a proposal.
When I said yes, she said, yes, too.
Unlike Prince Daniel, I hadn’t been groomed for years to be Husband. Like Prince Daniel, I had been welcomed to a new family, to a much bigger family than my own, with great warmth. And my father-in-law-to-be didn’t have to pay a million dollars for the wedding.
Wife and I planned to get married in Stockholm, but in a wave of despair, going over the guest list, I declared that none of my buddies would come anyway. We looked at each other and – the way His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf described his meeting with his queen – “it just said ‘click’”.
So we packed Son, Daughter, parents, sisters, and a brother, and flew to Vegas.
A limousine picked us up at the hotel, and dropped us off at the Little While Chapel. Our basic package included a priest, music, and a VHS tape of the ceremony.
Rev. Jackson was a warm, smiling man. He asked us if we wanted music with the ceremony, as we entered the chapel. We gave him the disc I had made, with Ronan Keating’s “When You Say Nothing At All”, and he put it in a CD player.
We were nervous, Wife was gorgeous, parents teary-eyed, and the kids asleep, as Reverand Jackson walked us through the ceremony, to our vows, calling me different names all through the process, ending with “Do you, Rusko…”.
Rusko did want. And the King of Finland got his Queen.
On July 19, 1976, I was lying on the back seat of whatever car we happened to have back then, listening to Mom and Dad listen to the commentary from the Royal Wedding in Stockholm, as the King was getting married to his dream girl, Silvia, one of us common people.
Unlike President, the King is born to be King, and the Crown Princess is born to be the Queen. Barring a revolution, there’s no other way to the throne.
And the way out isn’t voluntary, either.
It may be outdated, and you might think it’s just plain wrong, but there’s nothing he can do about it. Except try to be a good monarch and make every one think that he’s waving at them, and only them.