Princess Sofia walks up the aisle for her wedding in 2015
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Sofia Hellqvist, who is now pregnant with her third child, married Prince Carl Philip, fourth-in-line to the Swedish throne, five years ago, but her path to royalty was a rocky one. The royal’s past as a glamour model and reality TV star sparked backlash when her relationship with the prince became public. Sofia said she found the transition from celebrity to royalty very difficult and that she was on the receiving end of online abuse.
Due to this experience, she will likely sympathise with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s pleas for a kinder online world.
Sofia told TV4: “I was met with an enormous hate storm from people who had opinions about me as a person, about my relationship.
“I was surprised and it definitely affected me.
“I didn’t understand that people had such a need to express how badly they felt about me. It was tough.
“I don’t regret anything. All these experiences have made me the person I am.”
However, she acknowledged: “I wouldn’t have made those choices today.”
Sofia first worked as a glamour model while studying in Sweden’s capital Stockholm.
Aged 20, she posed for photographs that were published in Swedish men’s magazine Slitz wearing only a bikini bottom and a live boa constrictor around her upper body.
She was later voted Miss Slitz 2004 by readers.
When her relationship with Prince Carl Philip was revealed in 2010, Expressen republished the photos.
Following on from her Miss Slitz win, Sofia was cast in the Swedish reality TV show Paradise Hotel on TV4.
Paradise Hotel was a programme in which a group of singles are left on a luxury tropical resort and compete to find a love match, similar to ITV’s Love Island.
Sofia had a much-publicised feud with Olinda Castielle and finally voted her off the show before making it to the final herself.
She was mentioned in some newspapers for having kissed American adult film star Jenna Jameson while in Las Vegas for the reality show.
After her stint as a reality TV star, she moved to New York to study accounting, specialising in business development at the New York institute of English and Business.
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Sofia is a certified yoga instructor and worked as one while she was in New York.
She then moved back to Stockholm and studied global ethics, child and youth science, children’s communication and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
She worked part time as a waitress and glamour model to support herself during these studies.
Prince Carl Philip met Sofia in 2009 at a nightclub, having been introduced by mutual friends.
They have described the meeting as love at first sight.
Sweden Royal Wedding- Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia greet the crowd
Inspired by her interest in human rights and encouragement from her royal boyfriend, Sofia started to focus more on charitable endeavours.
In 2010, she set up the Sofia Hellqvist Project Playground, which supports underprivileged children in South Africa.
She also started appearing at Swedish royal family events, including the wedding of Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill in 2013.
The couple announced their engagement during a media conference at the Royal Palace in Stockholm in June 2014.
Prince Carl said: “I don’t think I knew the magic of love before I met Sofia.
“But ever since I met her, I’ve seen how love can change a person.”
They got married the following year at Stockholm’s Royal Palace chapel and thousands lined the streets for the occasion.
Carl criticised the press for suggesting Sofia was not welcome in the royal family, insisting that the opposite was true and that his family easily accepted her.
The pair now have two children, Prince Alexander and Prince Gabriel, with another one on the way, due in late March or early April.
In October 2019, the King of Sweden rescinded the royal status of the couple’s sons in an effort to streamline the royal family and more strictly associate royalty to the office of the Head of State.
The boys are still styled as princes and dukes, but will now have more freedom of choice for their future lives, Sofia and Carl Philip said.
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