When Crown Princess Victoria began dating fitness instructor Daniel Westling after a chance meeting in a gym, few could have predicted the unlikely couple would stand the test of time – and media scrutiny. But Daniel, often credited for helping Victoria overcome her struggles with anorexia, has proved the perfect consort, earning the support of not only King Carl Gustaf, but also of the Swedish people.
Born on September 15, 1973, Daniel grew up in Ockelbo with his sister, Anna, and parents Olle and Eva. He had a passion for sports, and following a brief spell in the army after graduating from school, became a fitness instructor and personal trainer.
In 2002, it's understood that Princess Madeleine was urging her sister to fight her anorexia through exercise. Victoria had been studying at Yale and receiving treatment for her eating disorder in a US clinic, and upon returning to Sweden enlisted the help of a personal trainer. That personal trainer was the then 29-year-old Daniel.
With his humble background and penchant for baseball caps, the sporty Swede seemed a surprising choice of suitor for the Queen in waiting. But he was integrated into royal circles, set up his own gym business, and in the summer of 2008, moved into a one-bedroom rental apartment in the Drottningholm Palace. Although he was housed in a separate wing to Victoria's quarters, it was a significant step nonetheless.
It's thought he was also encouraged to cut his hair and wear designer spectacles – as well as receive something of an education in world affairs.
Then in February 2009, following months of speculation, came the news that the couple were to wed. "It is of course a special day for us, but it is also a special day for Sweden. Over the past few years we have got to know Daniel well and have understood that he is a young man who works hard and takes life seriously," said King Carl Gustaf.
And, just before showing off her new diamond sparkler, a visibly joyous Victoria announced: "With Daniel by my side I feel secure. You have probably noticed in recent years that I have seemed stronger and happier. And now the time has come to begin preparations for starting something of our own and creating a family."
For his part Daniel described how he was nervous when proposing, going down on one knee in the grounds of Drottningholm Palace on a beautiful sunny day. "I was hoping for a 'yes' but I wasn't entirely sure," he revealed.
Crowds gathered outside the palace to sing the Swedish national anthem. And after King Carl Gustaf's announcement, so many people tried to log on to the Royal Court website that it crashed.
Newspapers set up forums for the public to congratulate the royal bride-to-be on her happy news, and there was a distinctive air of excitement in Sweden. There hasn't been a royal wedding since 1976 and the press speculated that a grand affair would be the perfect distraction from the doom and gloom of the economy.
The engagement hasn't been all plain sailing, though. Just three months after popping the question, Daniel, who suffers from a congenital problem that impairs renal function, was forced to undergo a kidney transplant. The procedure was successful, however, with his father serving as donor.
And there have also been criticisms from some quarters about the suitability of the young entrepreneur, who is not a member of the aristocracy, for Victoria. To help dispel the concerns Queen Silvia – who herself is not of royal descent – gave a TV interview and came out in support of her future son-in-law.
"I think he's going to do well. He's going to be successful in his task of helping the princess," she said.
"Daniel has been very active in these years and has set up his own business," she said. "I hope he can share his experiences and help bring modernity to the court."
On June 19, 2010, the couple wed in a lavish ceremony in front of over 1,000 guests, and Daniel became Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland. Royal insiders have speculated that his post-wedding focus may be in the fields of healthcare and sport.