Details You Didn't Know About Sweden's Princess Sofia

The British royal family might hold the crown when it comes to worldwide popularity, but there's another member of the European monarchy you should be keeping your eye on: Princess Sofia of Sweden. With her classically attractive features and immaculate hair, she might appear to be your average, genetically blessed royal, but don't be fooled! Beneath the beautiful exterior lies a sharp and savvy woman who was once known as a model, reality TV contestant — and even a bartender! Not only that, but she's also a hardcore fitness junkie. In 2018, People reported that the princess swapped her heels for tennis shoes to compete in Sweden's version of "Tough Mudder," an obstacle course fraught with intense challenges that was designed with the help of the Swedish elite maritime special forces unit. 

According to Hello!, Princess Sofia officially celebrated her fifth wedding anniversary with Prince Carl Philip in 2020, but how did the happy couple first meet? And who is the princess with the interesting backstory who has captured the hearts of the Swedish public? Here, we take a look back on the lovebirds' relationship and clue you in on all the details you never knew about Sweden's Princess Sofia.

Princess Sofia isn't your typical royal

Much like Prince Harry's wife, Meghan Markle, Princess Sofia was famous in her own right before she ever snagged a crown. According to Independent, Sofia was once a model who posed topless with a boa constrictor around her neck for Swedish men's magazine Slitz. Per the outlet, the shoot in question was so popular that Sofia was voted "Miss Slitz 2004." In 2005, recognition from her modeling career led to a TV gig when Sofia was cast on Swedish reality show, Paradise Hotel (via Royal Central). The series followed the lives of sexy singles living at a luxury resort — and Sofia was even named a finalist before she was finally kicked off!

Eager to see the world, Sofia traded her home country for the bright lights of New York City, per Royal Central. She moved stateside in 2005, where she studied accounting at the New York Institute of English and Business and supported herself as a waitress/bartender. The young royal-to-be was also a certified yoga teacher, and co-founded a clothing line at the studio where she taught. But, after a few years in New York City, Sweden seemed to be calling her back. Sofia returned home and went out to a restaurant one night with friends, which is when her whole life changed.

Princess Sofia and Prince Carl Philip have a sweet love story

While dining out, Princess Sofia's group of friends ran into Prince Carl Philip of Sweden. Luckily for them, the friends they were with happened to know one another, according to Hello!. "We started with a shy greeting and everything followed," Carl Philip later told the magazine. Though the couple dated for a few years, the prince knew early on that Sofia was the one for him. In 2014, Hello! reported that he popped the question to his girlfriend early one morning. 

"I was nervous," the Swedish prince shared. "I woke up several times the night before, I don't know if Sofia noticed. I wanted it to be a surprise." Once news of the royal engagement officially broke, Carl Philip was quick to share his excitement about the upcoming union. "I felt hugely confident announcing our engagement and having Sofia by my side," Carl Philip sweetly revealed to Hello!. "At last, we were a team and we're a good team." Sofia and Carl Philip married the following year and, as of 2020, the couple has two children together: Prince Alexander and Prince Gabriel, per Town & Country.

Not everyone was a fan of Princess Sofia at first

Because Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia are beloved in their Swedish homeland, it's hard to believe that not everyone was a fan of their pairing at first. Just as England's Prince Harry defended his love Meghan Markle from the British press, Carl Philip criticized the media for its treatment of Sofia, stating angrily that his future bride was "hung out to dry in a bullying type of way," per Royal Central. "From the beginning, there was a struggle for Sofia to be accepted," Margareta Gotthardsson, royals reporter at Svensk Damtidning, told People.

Everything from Sofia's stint on Paradise Hotel to her racy modeling pics — and even her collection of tattoos — was scrutinized. But, while the relationship initially rubbed some Swedes the wrong way, the royal family welcomed Sofia with open arms. "My parents and my sisters were curious about her, open, and welcomed her with a big hug," Carl Philip told Swedish TV 4 in 2014. Sofia echoed the sentiments. "I felt welcome from day one and nothing else," she explained in the documentary The Year with the Royal Family, via People.

Since 2014, Sofia has endeared herself to the people, covering up her tattoos with designer gowns and working with charity programs like South Africa's Project Playground, according to People. "Now everyone has changed their minds about her," Gotthardsson added. "She is very lovely, charming and smart. The Swedish people have taken her to their heart."

Princess Sofia and Prince Carl Philip's children will not hold royal titles

By 2020, the ruling Swedish family had announced a major change to the royal house. In efforts to slim down the monarchy, the grandchildren of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia would no longer hold royal titles, according to the BBC. The outlet specified that "the decision ... means the children no longer have the title of royal highness and are not expected to perform official royal duties." While this doesn't apply to Crown Princess Victoria's children (as the direct heirs), Princess Sofia and Prince Carl Philip's children will only hold their titles in a personal capacity.

And the couple is fully on board with this new development. At the time, Sofia and Carl Philip took to Instagram to voice their thoughts, writing that they "see this as positive as Alexander and Gabriel will have freer choices in life," per Town & Country. The post continued to clarify that "they will retain their Prince titles and their Duchies, Södermanland and Dalarna, which we value and are proud of," the pair noted. "Our family has strong connections to both landscapes and we maintain our commitment there." All titles aside, we look forward to seeing what this royal couple does next.