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Royal wedding called off amid cheating claims

By Per Nyberg, CNN
Princess Madeleine has split with her fiance, Jonas Bergstrom.
Princess Madeleine has split with her fiance, Jonas Bergstrom.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Sweden's Princess Madeleine calls off wedding with lawyer Jonas Bergstrom
  • Split follows media reports that Bergstrom had fling with student
  • Princess' older sister due to be married in June
  • Princess Madeleine and Bergstrom met through mutual friends in 1999
RELATED TOPICS
  • Sweden
  • Royalty

(CNN) -- Sweden's Princess Madeleine has called off her planned wedding to Jonas Bergstrom, the Swedish Royal Court announced, following press reports that Bergstrom was "intimate" with a college student during their engagement.

"After having thought it through thoroughly, the Princess Madeleine and Mr. Jonas Bergstrom have made the decision to go their separate ways," the court statement said.

The couple asked for "peace and quiet in this difficult situation. The extreme coverage by the press is not making this situation any easier for them," said the court statement, which was released Saturday.

Princess Madeleine Therese Amelie Josephine, 27, is the youngest child of Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. Her older sister, Crown Princess Victoria, is due to marry gym owner Daniel Westling in June.

The split follows weeks of intense press coverage of the Swedish royal family, speculating on the state of the couple's relationship.

"I think it is great that we can now avoid all those speculations in the press about them that we have had over the last week. This has certainly cleared the air," said Elisabeth Tarras-Wahlberg, the former head of press at the royal court and now the royal commentator for CNN affiliate Swedish TV4.

"It felt like the end of a road where they had to turn one way or the other, and now they have chosen their path," Tarras-Wahlberg said in an interview with TV4.

Princess Madeleine and Bergstrom met through shared friends in 1999 and became a couple during the summer of 2002, according to Swedish media reports. Madeleine said in an interview that it was love at first sight, and Bergstrom said he "fell in love with her blue eyes and wonderful laughter," Swedish daily Expressen wrote.

But through the years, Swedish press has been full of speculations about the ups and downs in the couple's relationship. According to Swedish daily Aftonbladet, there were reports of Bergstrom living a wild party life at Stockholm's exclusive night clubs as early as 2005, fueling reports their relationship was on the rocks.

But Bergstrom proposed to Madeleine last June on the Italian island of Capri. After King Carl Gustaf XVI gave his approval -- and the Swedish government subsequently signed off on their engagement as required by law -- the couple announced their engagement to the public on August 11.

But just as quickly as the engagement was announced, something happened. The couple last appeared together in public at the Nobel dinner in Stockholm in December 2009. Over the last few weeks, Swedish press has covered the couple's potential problems with an intensity never seen before.

The first public admittance that something was not right came when Queen Silvia told Aftonbladet on April 13 that her youngest daughter's wedding would not happen this year as planned. She told the paper that there was too much going on with the preparations for the Crown Princess' wedding and that Madeleine deserved peace and quiet around her own wedding.

Then, on Wednesday, Norwegian magazine Se og Hor published an interview with Norwegian handball star Tora Uppstrom Berg in which she claimed she had been "intimate" with Bergstrom during a night at Swedish ski resort Are last year. She told the magazine that he called himself Jacob Bernstrom, and that it wasn't until she called his cell phone a few days later that she realized who he was.

According to Aftonbladet, Berg is studying photography at Art University College in Bournemouth. The paper reported that Berg had planned to hide in England when the interview was published, but because of the ash cloud from the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull, she was stuck in Norway when the news broke.

The Swedish press continued to speculate on the couple's problems, writing that the two had seen a couple counselor and outlining what they called Bergstrom's "double life" -- by day, a respected lawyer and fiancé, at night, partying with Stockholm's elite.

Tarras-Wahlberg said it was likely Madeleine's decision.

"I don't think anyone has pushed them into this decision. Madeleine is a decisive individual and she knows what she wants, but of course this decision has been taken during discussions together with the rest of the royal family," Tarras-Wahlberg said.

"I think it is a good thing that they were able to get this cleared away before Victoria's wedding, since with the speed of the media today, by that time there will be plenty of other wonderful things to talk about so that this will only be somewhere in the background," Tarras-Wahlberg said.

The Swedish royal family may not be used to the intensity of the press over recent weeks, but in 2003 they successfully sued two German magazines after they published false information about the crown princess, according to Swedish Radio.

After the worldwide publication of the interview with Bergstrom's alleged lover, Berg told Norwegian newspaper VG that she regrets having made the affair public.

"I could never imagine the enormous consequences this would have," she told the newspaper.

In a press release sent to several newspapers in the region, Berg's family said she had been naïve, and that she had received 12.500 Norwegian Kroner for the interview. The press release, published in its entirety in Expressen, said that no further money had been accepted. At the bottom, the press release was signed, "Tora with family."

The Swedish monarchy has been under fire lately, and not just because of the princess' problems. In a recent study by Gothenburg University, published in Svenska Dagbladet, 22 percent of all Swedes want to abolish the monarchy, up from 15 percent six years ago. The Swedish writer Goran Hagg recently proposed in an interview with TV4 that the king should be elected in a public vote.

 
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