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Royal Media Fatigue

Published tisdag 15 juni 2010 kl 15.33
Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling with the Queen.

The preparations for the royal wedding between Crown Princess Victoria and her fiancée, Daniel Westling, on the 19th of June have created a storm of media coverage in Sweden in recent months.

Almost two and a half thousand journalists are covering the wedding, which has been described over in minute detail in seemingly endless programmes and articles.

Part of the media attraction is - of course - the celebrity value as well as the fact that Crown Princess Victoria is the heir to the throne. But there is more to it than that.

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It started, says Court Journalism expert Kristina Widestedt at Stockholm University, around the time when Viktoria's mother, Queen Sylvia was asked by a journalist if she felt like Cinderella.

Widestedt says that for the last 30 odd years the Swedish media has covered the monarchy almost exclusively as if everything about it was a fairly tale.

"There is a sort of fairytale frame surrounding the media coverage which helps them to tell the love story between Crown Princess Victoria and the man of the people Daniel," she told Radio Sweden.

"It has developed in the last 30 years due to the de-politicisation of the Swedish monarchy which brought about this fairytale reporting."

Widestedt describes Swedish public television coverage of the run up to the wedding - with it's emphasis on rings and sagas - as a cross between the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and says it may cause a backlash among those less enthused about all things royal.

The Swedish monarchy was stripped of its political role in the 1970s and now has a strictly ceremonial position in Swedish society.

Yet, although the King is still the formal head of state and represents the country in state visits around the world, Swedes have very little awareness of what the monarchy does today, says historian Jonas Nordin at the National Library of Sweden

"I don't think people know what the royal family do jobwise. Generally in Sweden you hear about the royal family in gossip magazines," he said.

"Because people don't know what they do there is a kind of indifference and people don't feel the need to debate about it."

Anders Billing, an editor at the weekly news magazine Fokus, recently wrote an investigative report on the soft power of the Swedish monarchy, which revealed powerful political and corporate networks which are seldom heard of in the Swedish media.

He says the lack of reporting may simply be down to the media overlooking the monarchy.

"There is a massive lack of proper serious reporting about the court. And I think most people in Sweden are critical enough to be fed up with the glossy image," he said.

Billing believes that the huge media coverage surrounding the wedding may be a catalyst for change which will lead to a better understanding of what the monarchy is about.

"Even though there's been a lot of glamorous reporting, it's started a lot of discussions about the royal system and our monarchy, in a good sense."

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