Saturday, June 3, 2017

Prince Daniel talks health and sports for Dagens Nyheter.


Seven years ago he became part of the Royal Family. In a big DN interview, Prince Daniel tells us about the fight for all children to get an active life. And why he wants Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar to learn everyday things like going underground and standing in line.


Two girls with exactly the same hairstyles can not stop freaking out.

On the walkway outside the school there is a Prince. He is there to learn more about how the students at Bällstaberg School in Vallentuna combine study and movement.
All of the 4C class is out on glossary. This means that they take turns after laps along a small loop, while they are training to understand different English words.

-When I'm going to learn something, I usually go for a walk. I bring the paper that I'm going to read, says Prince Daniel.

His visit is a surprise for the children. Kerstin Nilsson, associate professor and teacher in sports and health, has prepared the students for Dagens Nyheter to come. But she has not revealed that the purpose of our visit is to make an interview with a member of the Royal Family.

It was the court that chosen the place of the meeting: Bällstaberg School is featured on the Prince's list of schools that he wants to visit, schools that try to get the pupils in motion.
At Kerstin Nilsson's lessons in sport and health, it is not a question of letting school classes race to the high jump rink or that students can choose teams on the soccer field.

"Now we are in the forest almost all the time with adventures and we play. We drive in the rough terrain and that gives students versatile exercise and balance, she tells.

Her guest can only praise that attitude: Swedish schools have to go back to the movement.

"For many, sport lessons can be an exposed environment. Here is the weakest link that must be given the chance. Those who play football and hockey and basketball and exercise five times a week and have parents who are warm to them, they do not need more stimuli. They need to learn to adapt to those who don't have it so easy, "says Prince Daniel.

Kerstin Nilsson tells that she encouraged the parents to go out and move together with the children now on the spring edge. Such suggestions may well work for many of the families in Vallentuna's residential neighborhood.

"But depending on who the recipient is, it can be very tough. If I'm a single mother-in-law who works in health care, then I'm not wondering if I'm going to stand out and jog with my children. I will have the clothes clean and the food in order, "says Prince Daniel.

This is what we meet in Vallentuna: A Royal that wants to talk about equality.

At Bällstaberg School there is a blue flag, but the study visit takes place without any ceremonies. Instead, it happens to be crazy hair day. We meet students with wigs and artificial pastries in the hair. A teacher has released the hair into a cactus wrinkle. The racer wears a diadem with two rocking hearts.

Prince Daniel's haircut may well be described as somewhat more dimmed.

"I was getting a little extra this morning. I would also like to be a little crazy, he assures the students.

I embrace myself by turning the "prince" and "you" into the appeal, with an inconsistency that can cure both royalists and republicans in the reading circle. When I regret, he quickly says there is nothing he reflects on.

It was last summer that the Crown Princess couple launched Generation Pep, a non-profit organization that brings together big companies, foundations and nonprofit organizations in the fight for children and young people's health.

- It's a paradox. We belong to those who exercise most in Europe, and to those who are most quiet, the prince finds.

Both he and his wife, Crown Princess Victoria, have noticed the differences during their travels in the country.

"We have good conditions, we are just getting more and more aware. Those who already have it tough financially and socially, they are those who always suffer from disease and even there is the hardest thing. One may feel that it is so unfair, says Prince Daniel.

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The research confirms the health gaps.

Prince Daniel has taken the impression of Scapis (Swedish cardiopulmonary bioimage study). It is a unique study in which all six university hospitals collaborate to study the presence of cardiovascular disease and lung diseases with studies of 30,000 people.

"In the pilot study in Gothenburg, it was seen that those living in areas where they are less privileged and have a worse financial situation, they have twice the risk of having a stroke, depression and myocardial infarction. And they have up to three times higher risk of type 2 diabetes," he says.

He goes out with his hands:

-And I mean: what? In Sweden? Today? Depending on where you were born? It's so incredibly unfair. And this is part of my commitment to this issue. We can not have it like this. We must try to change it with common forces. Everyone must ask themselves how they can contribute.

There are several high-ranking politicians who find it hard to be as committed as the Prince when they are agitating against injustice. But his dedication also raises questions.

For those who see the Monarchy as the height of inequality, it is not clear how a member of the Royal Family should address class differences.

"I think it's quite clear that I can gather and one lot of strong forces in a common endeavor to improve, for example, public health," replies Prince Daniel. Now, hopefully, you will write about this in a good way. Those who read your newspaper may not be the most vulnerable. But there are perhaps many decision makers and people who can influence their own environment and have the resources and ability to engage. We want all children in Sweden to be able to move for sixty minutes a day. If we can get it, we would change public health enormously.

The latest initiative from Generation Pep is a collaboration with Bonnier Carlsen with a book in the series Saga-sagas by Josefine Sundström and Emma Göthner.

The "Nice Body and Pretty Button" is about how Saga tries to embroider an S and is sent out to play. After an adventurous moment in the fresh air, the task goes a lot better. Readers will also learn about the body and the brain, and some tips on fun everyday games.
The book will be published to all 4-5 year olds in Stockholm.

"I've read it to Estelle and she loves it," says Prince Daniel.

What are the hopes of the book?

Just reading for our children is so incredibly important. This time I personally value it so highly, because you get close and you can talk about everything possible. I see this as a little inspiration and education. How easy it is to take the kids out. So spontaneal that is so important. It's about adding positive habits. It permeates our thinking. We know it's so hard to take away the bad habits. Then we want people to add.

These tips on everyday movements - like ramp dancing and living pyramids - will you try it out at Haga?

Yes I hope so! But it is also the case that we are the ones who are out with our children. It is not us who have problems. It's great fun to hear what we do. But I'm not worried about Estelle and Oscar when it comes to these pieces.

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- Match Daniel!
- Which Daniel?

It is not everyone in the schoolyard who recognizes the man in the red-randed shirt and understands that it is a member of the Royal Family who took part in the ball game "King" at Bällstaberg School.

Those who think about it find it funny when the Prince can advance in the field and change the box.

"Now you're King," he said.

Some balls later divide them if the Prince really stayed inside the line for his box.

- He stood there!
- No, there!

It's not just the ball game "King" who has to stick to the frames. Even for a member of the real Royal Family, certain restrictions apply. When a successful gym owner marries a Crown Princess, he must take good care of life as an entrepreneur. It took nine years from the first meeting to the wedding, so he thought.

"I feel I've found a right place," he says.

His life has taken the most special of turns. However, his interest in sport and health forms a straight line from growth to today.

"You do not choose the career I did if you do not desire to change people's health. I have devoted all my adult life to it. As a teenager, I also dedicated myself to training and writing training programs to others and trying to inspire friends and the environment to live healthy. I knew early that I would work with people and sports and health, he says.

As a teenager, Daniel Westling received the message that he had a congenital but non-inherited disease on the kidneys, and that he eventually needed a transplant. From time to time, his future plans were affected - not at all.

"I did not believe the doctor when he said I would need a new kidney at any time. I was the world's most active and did not feel any symptoms, he says.

It was far later that he understood that he was actually suffering from a disease. But then there was also a suitable donor: Dad Olle Westling gave a kidney to his son in May 2009.

How much does the disease affect today?

- Not at all, so long as I suffer in some way. But it has given me a deeper understanding when someone says "I am sick, I feel bad, I have these concerns." If I continue to feel like this, I can feel that experience has been good and that it has added something to my life. A humility for life and for others who are much worse.

Even during the illness, he tried to keep physically alive, albeit at a low level. He sees it as an example of how people adapt to the conditions.

During these years and even before the last refugee crisis, Victoria and I have met very many unaccompanied refugees and have been in refugee camps focusing on single-born refugees. No comparisons in general. But we humans are amazing at getting through things. We adapt. We accept. Let's move on. We buy the situation. You can not lay down and die. There's always somebody who's worse, he says.

He would like to take this opportunity to peep others with their positive experiences from the transplant.

If I go to take samples, I usually try to ask the doctor if they can plan so I can meet some families and some children that are going through something. Then I can be a good example of how it can go.
It has almost given me more gratitude and humility to life than my own situation. Because it went quite sharply anyway.

Between 1994 and 1996 the future Prince studied sports education at a public high school. There was an awareness of the problems that people moved too little and ate too much already. But Sweden has also changed since then.

Just take the soda. What did you drink? What size? Take the fast food entry in Sweden. It has been a very fast development, he says.

A private trip to the United States with Crown Princess Victoria 12-14 years ago made a strong impression.

By the coast we came to a long pier into the water with big stones. Just like when I was a child, I began to bounce between the stones on it. It was not the same excitement, though, the gods will know. But we got such energy and thought back on how we could go on like that when we were children. One bounced out. But then I see a guy. A giant overweight guy. He goes on all four. Zero joy. Just anxiety. He could not stand upright on these stones because he was so overweight.
It was such a moment when I felt that this should not be it.

It was in February 2009 that Daniel Westling and Crown Princess Victoria announced their engagement. In a small movie, the prince found that his primary task would be to support his wife and her important role for Sweden. But he also wanted to contribute himself.

Healthcare and entrepreneurship is what I'm passionate about, he said. I had enough thoughts early on how I could use my interests in this role, with this incredible platform, he says.

In conjunction with the wedding in June 2010, a foundation was established to counteract exclusion and promote good health. Since then, Prince Daniel has also spent time on the Prince Daniel Fellowship and the task of supporting young people to become entrepreneurs.

I do not drop those questions, not at all. But now in recent years I have started thinking more and more and putting more and more time on health issues. If you are to succeed in things then you have to focus and not do everything at the same time. It was the place to create something new, he says.

An entrepreneur is usually described as a person dare to try new and see opportunities rather than obstacles. I think it was with the entrepreneur's eyes that the former gym owner Daniel Westling entered his new role as Prince.

He does not protest against that description.

-That's how it is. Absolutely. I have the ability to want and dare to do things and test. I would not mind if I did not try to make the most of my possibilities. Then we'll see. Come back in 30 years and see if I've done anything.

When can you feel this falls in place?

I have never thought," What should I do? ". We make lots of exciting things, with our travels and meetings with people. We try to draw attention to key issues. There is so much to do. It is important to prioritize and do things that make a difference.

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Just six years ago, I followed the Crown Princess couple in the tracks when they went to Ockelbo. It was the Prince's first official visit to his home municipality.

I'm incredibly homely. I really love Ockelbo. To my hometown in this role ... It's clear that I thought before: How should this be?

When the train with the Royals rolled in to the train station in Ockelbo, the hill was facing the village packed with people. Old and young.

What a great thing it was. To see everyone, from the youngest and then the entire age range. I remember how my friend and big brother stood there and waved and said hello. Then I met my old colleague at the retirement home and hugged her.

The Crown Princess couple's journey continued on some worn countryside roads to villages and companies: Window manufacturers, Pannkaksfabriken, Museijärnvägen. Vikortsvackra was the hills and valleys of the landscape.

I best remember the older ladies who got up at the roadside to get a glimpse of the royals on the way to the Åmot public park. The schedule was hectic, yet the minibus brake. The Crown Princess couple stepped out and greeted.

The tants became so happy.

- What privilege to have a situation where you can enjoy happiness just by saying hi and watching someone in your eyes and asking how are they. It's an incredible luxury, says Prince Daniel. It is one of the strengths of our state that we have the ability to donate joy and draw attention. But then you have to like it. It's very easy if you think it's fun to stay there. You have to think it's fun to come out here at school and meet teachers and students.

Has that role always felt comfortable?

I have been in charge of the job in various contexts, and have had the staff to enjoy and create energy and see people. Just like my dad. We are very similar, he and I. He is also social and thinks it's fun to be with people and to create energy.

Olle Westling worked for a period as Social Manager in Ockelbo. He has never given interviews about his relationship with the Royal Family. But after a few hours at the Bällstaberg School in Vallentuna, I think that his work with vulnerable he has been an important source of inspiration for a future Prince.

It's a 22 miles trip between Stockholm and Ockelbo. It is the distance between a growing metropolis and a shrinking rural community north of Dalälven. Perhaps we get stuck in the subject because I come from the countryside too. But Prince Daniel repeatedly recalls how he feels strength and joy to grow up in Ockelbo.

"You care about each other and have a sense of community and unity that is incredibly strong," he says.

There was also a strong ideal commitment. An example was the ski slope run by the Open Air Promotion. During the winters it was an obvious gathering place.

- Every weekend there was a family who drove this facility. My parents were also included. Then we were in other smaller backs as well. Then you had mini slides. And then you jumped up the hill and drove down, says Prince Daniel.

It's not just the memories from the ski slope and, for that matter, the basketball court and the hockey stick that makes him pay tribute to the upbringing. There was and is something else too. That everyone can join.

He tells about people with disabilities who always had a place in society.

It is clear that, as a child, I may not be listed in those who had difficulties. There have always been those who lived in challenging situations. But I feel that this trust and this social security network were so very strong where I grew up. Everybody knows everyone in a small society, one knows who is the parent of what child and his brother, his sister. I believe that the strong trust is one of the success factors on which Swedish society is based. Of course, there is a difference in trust if you live in Ockelbo, compared to whether you live in a big city with many people with no relation.

A Prince who was raised in the countryside - what perspective does the Royal Family bring?

Maybe the King or Queen should answer. They are the Stockholmers who have been in most of the rural areas. They have traveled around a lot. I think they understand as well as me and know how it is in rural areas.
At the same time, it is clear that I am very pleased that my wife has her background, and I have mine, and they are very different. I think we give our children very good through it. I have worked with children with special needs, I have worked with retirees, I have run my own business and encountered all possible people. It has enriched me very much. And it's experiences that I have a lot of enjoyment in the role I have now.

Sport has a cohesive force.

I think we can broaden it to the whole community. I think of the scouts, the open air promotion, Friskis & sweat. We hope that we will be able to maintain this so that we parents today who think we are so incredibly important and stressed that we take the time to practice teams and engage in the scouts. So it does not happen that you do not have time and that any professional should do it. There is, of course, a quality in it, but I also think that there is a quality of being involved as a parent.

Can it be done if you are a part of the Royal Family?

I speak less about myself and more generally. But that's not impossible. Now Estelle goes to dance and I'm not the right person to step in there. Even if I like to dance.

But you go to games?

Exactly. Being with your children is the best activity. I also think it's important to let the kids be in all environments. One should know how the subway works and how it is to go by bus and how it is to quit and what it is like to feel this passion in the sports movement when there's a game and the Black Army sings for full neck. That's something I do not want them to miss.

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In the teacher's room, cakes and a craft await, and I wonder what it's like to be a health conscious Royal woman and always meet with dignity.

It's worse if you come to a hometown farm and there are some older women who make sure that their business survives. Then they have baked seven kinds of cakes. Then I take seven varieties and enjoy it, says Prince Daniel.

He is used to questions about how he can live healthy with all the fine dining. The answer is that it's okay just watching the alcohol.

You could drink seven glasses of wine. But you do not have to. If you want to drink at all, you can take very little. And then I think the food is so good. Even if there are three, four dishes, he says.

Prince Daniel does not complain. On the contrary, he repeatedly emphasizes how privileged he is.
He might be in the coolest team if he did not always return to the injustices.

Before Kerstin Nilsson goes on to her lesson - where she will be part of a crazy hair day with a big banana in plastic as a headdress - she tells us that it was the 1994 curriculum that made her think differently about how she would get the students in motion .

Then you went to sport from three occasions a week to two or one occasion at some schools. It was in that turn that I began to think. Can we get moving during school days, at the classes in, for example, Swedish and math? We felt that we all need to be helped. Then there has been a catastrophic decline in the students' fitness, stamina and versatile mobility over the past ten years, she says.

Prince Daniel points out that there are schools that do not even have a gymnasium.

What I understand, they run one or two weeks of intensive camp somewhere. A few days from morning to evening to prick the subject, he says.

Generation Pep has devoted a lot of time to understanding how Swedish students are, and the organization plans to do more in the school environment. 

The members of the Royal Family are expected to avoid taking a stand in social issues with party political charge. It makes it difficult to, for example, discuss economic allocation.

When I ask Prince Daniel to try to give his opinion on how the health gaps in society arose, he just points to the role of the school.

We need a school where teachers get the opportunity to do their job. Professional teachers are so incredibly important. That they should be given the opportunity to provide good education and that students should be able to receive this education, it feels like a very important reason. Then it is clear that there are people coming to Sweden with different things in their luggage, and they may need more support than what we grew up in small municipalities in the 70s and 80s. But it's about resources and that the one who does not really have the conditions gets support and help.

The Prince returns to the example of the single-parent mother of three.

You can not expect that person to have energy after work to be the world's best in supporting their children in physical activities. The school has an incredibly important role. That's the reason. All children are in school. It is so important for our equality.

Is it in school that it has broken?

It's very different how it looks in schools. Both knowledge and health. Getting good education and getting health, it feels like two extremely important and basic things to build our future on.

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In December, the Crown Princess couple released a film where the spouses wished a merry Christmas together with their children from a sizzling sausage grill in Tyresta National Park.

We would like to inspire. We have incredible environments close to us, even us that live in big cities. We like to be out in nature and want our children to have the same opportunities we have had to feel safe in that environment, says the prince.

The Crown Princess couple lives at Haga Palace with Haga Park around the knot.

Now Estelle is in the age when she's learning to cycle and it's incredibly fun.

What can we think about getting children in motion in the summer?

Generally, our children are hooking on us. They do what we do. We may interest them for different things. I have a wife who is incredibly skilled and knowledgeable in everything that has to do with nature. Estelle can already be sure - I do not know how many kinds of flowers and birds and plants she knows better than me. Children do what we do, not what we say. Test what's going on for the kids and what they think is fun.

Keep together in big and small - is it that we are supposed to summarize the message from Haga Palace?

Where the Republicans sees the Monarchy as an obstacle to equality, the royalist chooses to describe the Royal House as a symbol of a national community.

We are from a time when everyone looked at the "Children's Journal" because today it is so individualistic. We can be a one-way force. Just take our wedding. There were half a million people on Stockholm's streets and squares. It was this joy, says Prince Daniel.

The Crown Princess couple visited Drottninggatan the day after the terror attack on April 7 this year. Crown Princess Victoria received the question of how Sweden would move on and responded, noticeably touched, in a single word: "Together."

"She has the ability to put words on things," he says.

What did the prince learn from it?

It is not even possible to compare ourselves. She is so good and strong and has the ability to feel and see where an encouraging word and a pat on the shoulder when they are needed. But we both are really interested in people and have a strong social commitment. It is very stimulating to have a wife who has been involved in so many exciting things.

When Prince Daniel describes his mission, it sounds as if the own school of Royalty never ends.

You can of course say and think, "What do they know about how common people are?" Yes, maybe more than most of the people.
We meet everyone, from those who have the most difficult lives, to those who decide, and everyone in between. The entrepreneurs. The lonely mother. It is a benefit to gain that insight and hopefully deeper knowledge and understanding of the world in which we live. I feel so privileged that I have these opportunities. I feel grateful.


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