STOCKHOLM >> Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria gave birth to her first child early Thursday, a baby girl who will be groomed to one day become the country’s queen.
Victoria’s husband, Prince Daniel, said the girl, who is second in line to the Swedish throne, was born at 4:26 a.m. (0326 GMT) at the Karolinska University Hospital in Solna, a suburb of Stockholm. She was 20 inches (51 centimeters) long and weighed 7.23 pounds (3.28 kilograms).
“When I left the room the little princess was sleeping on her mother’s chest and they were looking very cozy,” an emotional Daniel told reporters. “The little daughter and the crown princess are doing very well.”
Victoria, 34, is next in line to the throne held by her father, King Carl XVI Gustaf, since 1973. Sweden changed the constitution in 1980, three years after Victoria was born, to allow the eldest heir to inherit the throne, regardless of gender. Before that female heirs were excluded.
Daniel said the king and Victoria’s mother, Queen Silvia, had been informed of the birth and “are very happy.”
Victoria married Daniel, a commoner and her former personal trainer, in June 2010. In August last year, the Royal Court announced that Victoria was pregnant.
Sweden’s top news sites proclaimed the royal birth with bold headlines Thursday, as TV stations broadcast live from the hospital. The Royal Court made the announcement on its website and, in a modern touch, on its Facebook page.
As is custom when an heir to the throne is born, the Swedish Armed Forces were to celebrate the news with two 21-gun salutes at noon in Stockholm and other cities around Sweden.
The country had eagerly awaited the announcement all night after the Royal Court confirmed after midnight that Victoria had checked in to the hospital.
Daniel said he was “pretty nervous” during the birth and that he cut the baby’s umbilical cord. The king will announce the girl’s name later this week, he said.
Like in neighboring Scandinavian countries, Sweden’s monarch is primarily a figurehead, representing the country as the head of state but with powers limited to ceremonial functions. One of the Swedish monarch’s most prominent duties is to hand out the prestigious Nobel Prizes at the annual award ceremony in December.
Victoria is widely admired by Swedes for being down-to-earth and unassuming. It’s not uncommon to see her and Prince Daniel venture out of their lakeside palace for a stroll in a nearby public park, with security guards in tow.
Dr. Lennart Nordstrom, who was present during the delivery, said there were no complications. The royal couple had specifically requested that they should not receive any special treatment, he said.
“Both the crown princess and Daniel have been adamant that they should receive the same care as everyone else,” Nordstrom told The Associated Press.
The royal family in general, and Victoria in particular, are highly popular in Sweden, which helps explain why the centuries-old monarchy has survived even though the concept of inherited privilege runs counter to the egalitarian character of modern Swedish society.
However, voices calling for a republic have been emboldened in recent years following the scandal surrounding an unauthorized biography of the king in 2010, with claims of seedy night club visits and an extramarital affair.
A close friend of the king caused him further embarrassment when he was caught on tape negotiating with mobsters in an apparent attempt to keep unflattering information about the king’s entourage from the public eye.
The Swedish monarchy rests on traditions stretching back to the end of the Viking age, more than 1,000 years ago, but the current dynasty was founded in 1810, when French marshal Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was elected as successor to the throne.
Associated Press writer Karl Ritter contributed to this report.