Shannen Findlay

Beauty & Style

Rise to royalty: Swedish Sofia’s journey from risque star to beloved princess

Before she became Princess Sofia of Sweden, she was Sofia Hellqvist. 

Born in December 1984, she began making a name for herself while studying in Sweden’s capital, Stockholm. 

The royal started out as a glamour model and partook in risque photoshoots. One of her most outlandish was one she posed for at the age of 20 for a Swedish men’s magazine, Slitz, where she wore a boa constrictor as her own form of clothing. 

In 2004 she was crowned Miss Slitz 2004. 

The recognition from the bold cover earnt her a spot on a popular reality television show, Paradise Hotel, in 2005. 

The show required a group of single people to stay in a luxury tropical resort and compete to find their perfect match. 

The royal would not find the one for her until 2009, however, when she met her future husband, Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, at a busy nightclub. 

They both described their first meeting as “love at first sight”. 

Having studied accounting, global ethics and various other courses focussing on children’s rights, Princess Sofia received encouragement from her royal boyfriend to focus on more charitable endeavours. 

In 2010, she established the Sofia Hellqvist Project Playground, which supports underprivileged children in South Africa.

When the news of their intimate relationship became public, critics thought the couple were not a good match. 

Princess Sofia said in an interview in 2018 the transition from local celebrity to royal an incredibly difficult feat. 

"I was met with an enormous hate storm, from people who had opinions about as a person, about my relationship.

"I was surprised and it definitely affected me. I didn't understand that people had such need to express how badly they felt about me. It was very tough.

 "I don't regret anything. All these experiences have made me the person I am. I wouldn't have made those choices today."

In 2014, the couple announced their engagement and it seems Prince Carl was head over heels with his soon-to-be-fiance. 

"I don't think I knew the magic of love before I met Sofia," Prince Carl said in their joint engagement interview.

"But ever since I met her, I've seen how love can change a person."

Princess Sofia said: "The first thing I noticed about Carl Philip was that he seemed very humble.

"When I got to know him, I saw that he was incredibly natural, very intelligent and very humble."

The duo married inside the Royal Chapel at the Royal Palace of Stockholm on June 13, 2015. 

Other royals from all over the world were there to witness the nuptials including Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, along with others from the UK, Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands, Greece, Norway and Germany.

The couple welcomed their first child, Prince Alexander, in April 2016, and then later on, Prince Gabriel in August 2017. 

Scroll through the gallery above to see Princess Sophia’s life in pictures.