While most of the world fawns over Kate Middleton’s wardrobe or Prince George’s cherubic face, there’s a newer, cooler royal couple making waves across Europe.
If Will and Kate are the role model royals, then Prince Carl Philip of Sweden and his fiancée Sofia Hellqvist are the party animals.
Set to get hitched in a glamorous June 13 affair at Sweden’s Royal Chapel, the pair are fast gaining international attention thanks to Sofia’s colourful past and the pair’s fun-loving lifestyle and obvious good looks.
Here’s what you need to know about Europe’s coolest couple.
Her colourful career history
Sofia Hellqvist, 30, is no Kate Middleton.
While she shares an affinity with the Duchess of Cambridge for sleek blow waves, that’s where the similarities end.
The tattooed soon-to-be-princess found fame early in life as a glamour model and reality television show contestant.
Hellqvist modeled primarily for men’s magazines and was named 2004’s “Miss Slitz” in Slitz magazine’s annual beauty competition at the age of 20. She posed for the magazine wearing nothing but bikini briefs and a live boa constrictor.
Her burgeoning profile helped her earn a spot on the Swedish reality series Paradise Hotel in 2005. Hellqvist made it to the final round of the show, which followed a group of single people living it up in a luxury resort.
During her TV stint, Hellqvist was filmed kissing American porn star Jenna Jameson, a moment that has been raised regularly in media coverage of the royal couple’s romance.
However, Hellqvist has been surprisingly candid about her past, saying her wild days are far behind her.
“A lot has been written over the years, not only following our engagement,” she said in a documentary titled The Year with the Royal Family.
“For me it’s pretty boring, it happened 10 years ago and I’ve moved on with my life. But no regrets, experience shapes a person.”
Hellqvist also has an impressive resume – she studied accounting with computer application at the Institute of English and Business in New York as well as Swedish practice at Stockholm University.
She is a trained yogi and passionate charity volunteer who founded a not-for-profit organisation called Project Playground in 2010.
Project Playground supports vulnerable children in South Africa through social development.
After the wedding, Hellqvist will be officially known as HRH Princess Sofia, Duchess of Värmland.
His playboy past
Like his fiancée, Prince Carl Philip, 36, has had his fair share of scandal.
Philip will never reign as king due to Sweden’s principle of absolute primogeniture, meaning the throne passes to the eldest child in the family regardless of gender.
While this leaves his older sister Princess Victoria as heir apparent, the dashing sole son of the King has received much attention in regards to his private life.
The prince had a 10-year relationship with PR representative Emma Pernald before their shock split in 2009, after which he became one of Europe’s most eligible bachelors.
He earned a reputation as a notorious playboy thanks to his love for club-hopping.
In 2012 he made headlines for getting into a drunken brawl outside a nightclub in Cannes.
The attack was unprovoked on Philip’s part and he escaped uninjured with the help of Hellqvist who reportedly intervened in the fight.
He was spotted drunkenly wandering around Stockholm that same year wearing an alien mask and is regularly photographed partying on yachts or alongside A-list celebrities like Charlize Theron.
The love affair
The couple met through friends in 2009 while dining out in the town of Båstad, Sweden.
“I was eating with friends in Båstad,” Carl Philip recalled in the documentary The Year with the Royal Family.
“Sofia was there with a friend and our friends knew each other. We started with a shy greeting and everything followed.”
The pair soon moved in together into a private estate in the affluent Stockholm neighbourhood of Djurgården.
They dated for four years before Prince Carl Philip proposed in June 2014.
Hellqvist has described the prince as her “best friend”, while Philip has said he feels “extremely confident, stable and balanced” with Hellqvist by his side.
“I’ve felt that way from the beginning,” the prince told Hello magazine.
“[Carl Philip] the person I talk to the most. He’s so smart and I feel so secure with him,” Hellqvist added.
While Hellqvist celebrated her hen’s party with a weekend away at a country mansion in Sweden, Prince Carl Philip enjoyed a surprise stag’s weekend in Greece, organised by his sister Victoria.
Despite the media’s fascination with Hellqvist’s checkered history, the ex-model said she was warmly welcomed into the Swedish royal family.
“It has been speculated that I wasn’t embraced by the family but it was the opposite,” she said in The Year with the Royal Family.
“I felt welcome from day one and nothing else.”
The princess-to-be also said that she felt ready for her new role as a royal.
“I know that life and know what is going to change. I’m ready, no surprises, I think it will be fine,” she said.
“I know it will,” Carl Philip added.