NETTY ROYAL

The next royal wedding?

Now Crown Prince Haakon of Norway has married his Mette-Marit, and the Prince of Orange is engaged to be married to Máxima Zorreguieta, I am curious to learn who the next crown prince(ss) is who is getting married. Despite all opposition against the relationship, I think it is realistic to assume that it might be the Prince of Asturias with Eva Sannum.

The blonde and blue-eyed Norwegian Eva Sannum was born on April 27, 1975 in Lovenstad, northern Norway. Her parents divorced when she was ten years old and Eva and her older sister Linda lived with their father, Bjorn Sannum, owner of a automobile paint workshop, who eventually remarried. Her mother married a waiter she met on the island of Rhodes in Greece. Eva started to do modelling work at the age of 15. As she is six feet tall now, a mere six inches shorter than the Prince of Asturias, she had the good height for a model. However she has never reached the top and mainly worked in Norway. Among others she has worked as a lingerie model. She does the modelling work as a part-time job and studies personal relations and marketing at the University of Oslo. Eva lives in a suburb of Oslo together with a friend, Hanna. The apartment where they reside has six rooms and some eighty square meters. She speaks six languages aside from Norwegian: English, Spanish, German, French, Greek, and Italian.

Felipe and Eva have been an item since the fall of 1997, when they met at a dinner party in Madrid, hosted by fellow model Cathrine Knudsen, at that time the girlfriend of Crown Prince Haakon of Norway. Eva was living in Madrid, where she had come to learn Spanish. The couple were photographed together at the party, and that immediately got the royalty-watchers' tongues wagging. Eva already returned to Oslo after three months in Madrid, but that didn't mean the end of her relationship with Felipe. Photos of the couple became more frequent in 2000. They were spotted skiing in Norway and going to a movie together in Oslo. In the summer of 2000 they spent ten days in Sotogrande, Spain, where they went sailing. And in the autumn they were holidaying at the Caribbean. Around that time also photos of a vacation of the couple and a group of friends to India in the summer of 1999 showed up. It is possible that one of the friends who were with them on holidays, leaked the photos on to the press, but it is also rumoured that it was Felipe himself who, via his cousin Prince Nikolaos of Greece, passed on the photos to the Spanish press. Then in March 2001 photos were taken while the couple was skiing in Sankt Moritz, Switzerland. And in April 2001 Eva travelled to Madrid on her 26th birthday, after having celebrated with friends and family in Oslo.

Everything changed on August 25, 2001, when both Eva and Felipe attended the wedding of Crown Prince Haakon and Mette-Marit Tjessem Hřiby. The couple were photographed chatting together at the ball at the Royal Palace after the wedding. At the wedding Eva met Queen Sofia, which can be seen as a sign that the Spanish Royal family accepts her as Felipe's partner. Days after the wedding the Spanish royal court officially stated that the meeting was quite normal as both Felipe and Eva are friends of the married couple and and it would have been strange if one of them wouldn't have been at the wedding.

At the end of September 2001 the direction of Team Models, the model agency Eva works for, confirmed to the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten that Eva was no longer working for them. It seems Eva has given up her modelling work and wants to concentrate on her studies at the Vesterdeal Reklameskole in Oslo, where she will have her final exams next summer. Also the extraordinary media interest in her might have helped Eva making the decision to quite her modelling work. On October 3 Aftenposten told that the Lutheran Eva is in full learning of the Catholicism at the Church of Saint Olav, although it wasn't said if she does so to have more information upon the catholic faith or to be initiated in the road toward the conversion. Although according to the Spanish law it is not necessary to be a catholic when you are a member of the royal family, a conversion would improve Eva's position since the Spanish are very catholic.

If Felipe decides to marry Eva, he would not break any constitutional rules. Since 1978 members of the Spanish royal family don't need to marry another royal anymore. Although an 18th-century law states that the heir to the crown must marry royalty, few believe this would be an obstacle to Felipe marrying whomever he chooses, as long as she doesn't have a past and isn't an embarrassment at the palace. Felipe himself has said "My life is my matter", and he has always said he wants to marry for love. But of course as the Crown Prince, Felipe has his duties and he has to choose a suitable wife and not simply one that will make him happy, but also the people of Spain.

There are several opponents, for example Jose Luis de Vilallonga, biographer of Felipe's father King Juan Carlos. In the conservative newspaper ABC he wrote that he would consider a marriage between Felipe and Eva as a grave error which would put the Spanish monarchy on a level with the British and which perhaps would make him consider the advantages of a republic. The royal editor of ABC in Madrid, Ramon Perez Maura, says people from all walks of life are asking questions about Felipe's choice of girlfriend, not just right-wing journalists. Carmen Enriquez, a royalty reporter for Spanish television, told "Many feel that if the prince doesn't choose the right queen, it could threaten the survival of the monarchy." Others have rushed to the couple's defence, arguing the prince should be allowed to choose his bride like everyone else. 60 percent of Spaniards surveyed in a recent poll said Felipe should marry for love, although many expressed concern over the succession. Meanwhile the Spaniards have started to realise that Felipe might well marry Eva and have begun to accept their relationship.

There have been rumours about an engagement all over 2001, but nothing was announced so far. Of course the date of the wedding would be made public several months in advance when the couple would become engaged. When Felipe and Eva should marry, the marriage almost certainly will take place in Madrid. If that day comes I myself think the engagement will take place after Eva has finished her studies in the summer of 2002. And I am really hoping I will make it myself to travel to Madrid for the wedding. I am sure it will be a marvellous event.

Netty Leistra
Royal Watch
November 2001

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