No bridesmaids for Victoria
Fresh from the wedding hysteria in Sweden: Crown Princess Victoria has decided not to have any bridesmaids at her wedding, but rather 10 flower girls and page boys. According to one source that suits the princess, who loves children, better. She will also, most likely, have a footman or two assisting her with her gown and veil while entering and exiting the church (as did her mother). Among the flower girls listed are: Vivien Sommerlath, Prince Constantine-Alexios, Hedvig Blom, and Madeleine von Dincklage.

Monarchy – Sweden’s best marketing tool?
With just days before the royal wedding, Dagens Nyheter examines the monarchy from a marketing viewpoint. Says CEO Carl-Fredrik af Sandeberg at Differ, a management consultant business to the paper: “Our royal family is one of the most important tools we have when it comes to branding Sweden internationally. Our current family has also been very successful at doing just that.” According to af Sandeberg it is all thanks to their singular position: Not many countries in the world today has a King and a Queen. “They are often representing.” However, af Sandeberg is not counting money, he has no absolute financial proof of the value of having a monarchy. “I can’t say exactly, but it’s a lot of money.” According to sources, over 2,300 journalists are heading for Stockholm during the wedding weekend to cover the ceremony. And that kind of coverage is worth much more than plain advertising. “You have to separate advertising and publicity. The court gets publicity that is editorial coverage,” continues af Sandeberg. Put simply, publicity just seems more trustworthy. But you have to take care of your brand, as negative publicity can harm the image. “There is always a risk involved when it comes to private people as owners of a brand. However, historically there aren’t any huge scandals that have had a negative impact. And I doubt the wedding as such could generate a scandal that could actually harm Sweden.” Af Sandeberg also says he doesn’t think the “scandal” surrounding the break-up between Princess Madeleine and her ex-fiancé Jonas Bergström has had any long term negative consequences for Sweden, the brand, or even for the royal family itself, although infidelity of course has negative, rather than positive, connotations. Carl-Fredrik af Sandeberg is convinced that Sweden, from a marketing point of view, profits from having a monarchy. “Sweden has one of the least costly monarchies in the world, according to a study done by Herman Matthijs at Brussels Free Unviersity. I’m not convinced it would be cheaper having a Presidential couple.”

No deal over Millenium money
Talks between Stieg Larsson’s longtime partner Eva Gabrielsson and his family have failed to reach an agreement. The dispute is the same: the lucrative inheritance from Larssons best-selling Millenium trilogy. Larsson’s father and brother confirmed the news the other day. "The discussions which have been going on for six months between Stieg Larsson's heirs and his former partner Eva Gabrielsson have ended," the two men said in a statement also signed by their lawyer. "Unfortunately, she did not want to accept all or part of our proposal," they wrote. The author of the three cult thrillers left behind a wrenching drama when he died suddenly of heart attack at age 50 in 2004. He died without a will and since he and his live-in partner were not married and had no children, his estate went to his father and brother, in accordance with Swedish law. That included royalties from the books - and sale of film rights - whose English titles are "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo", "The Girl Who Played with Fire", and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest". Millions of copies of the books have been sold worldwide. Even though Larsson and Gabrielsson were a couple for 32 years, Sweden does not recognize common law marriage. Swedish public opinion has been sympathetic towards the woman seen as his widow after being excluded from the riches of his publishing phenomenon. According to Larsson's family, she has turned down their offers to share some of the wealth with her. Rumors persist that Gabrielsson had an active role in the editing of the three novels chronicling the adventures of Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist like Larsson, and a young computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander. Gabrielsson has declined to comment on the rumors ahead of the publication soon of a book she has written about Larsson's life.

The issues of the Swedish election
With less than 100 days to go before the general election in Sweden it’s interesting to take a closer look at what the issues at stake are. Two political blocs are fighting for power but what Swedish voters are interested in is: Work, medical service and education. According to a poll by DN/Synovates, these three are the top three concerns for Swedes today, and really it’s the same issues that were prioritized back in 2006. Nearly one out of three voters mention unemployment or employment as the most important problem to tackle in Sweden today. And one in four wants to make medical service and education a priority. Environment, geriatric care, taxes, and economy are other concerns. These are issues that Swedish voters want to focus on in election after election and may also explain why the parties are closing the gap in between each other in trying to promise increased resources. “But talking about it isn’t enough, the individual parties also have to come up with ideas that people buy in order for it to have effect,” says Synovates opinion analyst Nicklas Källebring. When it comes to creating employment, the Moderates has an advantage, while the Social Democrats rather want the debate to be about unemployment, which would favor them. The Social Democrats also have an advantage when the debate focuses on healthcare and geriatric care. In 2006 leader of the Moderates, Fredrik Reinfeldt tried to counter that with a promise to allot as much money to welfare as the Social Democrats. But there are also different views among the groups of voters concerning what’s important. Women favor childcare, ¬medical service and environmental issues much more than men do. Citizens of bigger cities often feel that taxes and the Swedish economy are more important than those who live in smaller towns. Among the conservative voters, 21% believe the tax issue is the most important, compared to only 4% among the Red-Greens. Among the Red-Greens, 24% feel environment is the most important issue, while only 15% among the conservatives feel that way. This is because the Green Party voters, where two out of three voters (64%) rank the environment as the number 1 concern. Among the Social Democrats and the Left Party sympathizers, the environment is not one of the top five priorities.