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STOCKHOLMThe Swedish royal family is gearing up for the lavish wedding of its crown princess Saturday, even as more citizens are saying the country should divorce itself from the monarchy.
Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling were presented with china at the Royal Palace in Stockholm on June 3.
The royal family is something of an anachronism in a country that prides itself on being one of the most equal in the world. For decades, a majority of Swedish lawmakers have been in favor of abolishing the monarchy, but no political party has had the stomach to pursue it.
Royalists and republicans struck a deal in 1974 that allowed the king to remain head of state, but without any executive powers. Ever since, Sweden has been, in the words of then-Prime Minister Olof Palme, a "pen stroke from a republic."
Almost 40 years since the compromise was struck, more than 200,000 people are expected to line the streets of Stockholm to see Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling, her former personal trainer, take a lap of honor in their horse-drawn carriage from the royal castle through central Stockholm and back again. To further underscore that this isn't an average wedding, 18 fighter jets and 5,000 troops have been called out to pay tribute to the couple.
But it is far from certain that Victoria, 32 years old, will inherit the crown from her father, 64-year-old King Carl XVI Gustaf. Popular support is on a gentle, but steady, downward slide. According to an April poll by Gothenburg University's SOM-Institute, the proportion of Swedes in favor of the monarchy has slid to 56%, from 62% six years ago, and is the slimmest majority since the institute started polling. Attempts to reach the royal family were unsuccessful.
Some say the weakening support of late is due to Victoria's choice of husbanda regular, middle-class guy from the rural town of Ockelbo in central Sweden.
Others cite public discontent at having to foot the bill for the wedding. Taxpayers are coughing up 10 million kronor ($1.3 million) for the wedding alone, before factoring in the cost of restoring the church, new uniforms for police officers, cleaning and other necessities. The city of Stockholm is also splashing out eight million kronor on a two-week-long festival tied to the wedding called "Love Stockholm 2010." And critics are unlikely to be mollified by the prospect of free subway rides on Saturday, courtesy of Stockholm's taxpayer-funded transportation authority.
"For all of us who weren't too fond of the whole monarchy deal, this has really triggered us to do something," says Vilma Seth, organizer of "Real Love Stockholm," one of the many antiroyalist parties taking place in the capital this weekend.
"I don't understand why politicians refuse to do something about the monarchy," Ms. Seth says. "I think the way a country is run should reflect its values."
Those who favor hanging onto the monarchy often mention the king's role as a representative of the country and his work supporting Swedish companies abroad. Whether that work justifies the 110 million kronor the government pays him every year is a matter of hot debate.
And while the national retail organization is forecasting 2.5 billion kronor in domestic sales of official wedding merchandise, Swedes may be overestimating the allure of their monarchy to foreigners.