Volvo Ocean Race finale may yet have dashing prince as guest
Race patron Prince Carl Philip tells Galway veteran ‘I’ll be in Galway for finale’
Prince Carl Philip pictured with Galway veteran William Raftery in Stockholm last week.
By Declan Varley
Galway may yet have a dashing royal prince at the finale of the Volvo Ocean Race in a few weeks time after one of Europe’s most daring royals told a Galwayman that he will be in the city for the finale of the race.
Sweden’s Prince Carl Philip, who is listed in the top five of the world’s most attractive male royals is the patron of the Volvo Ocean Race and attended the start of the race in Alicante last year. Last week at a function in Stockholm to honour former members of the military who had served with the UN Peacekeeping forces in the Congo in 1960, the Prince told Galway ex-soldier William Raftery that he will be coming to Galway for the race finish.
A spokeswoman for the royal palace in Stockholm told the Advertiser last night that while details of his calendar are yet to be finalised, an announcement on a Galway visit will not be made until next week. She said however, that she would “not be at all surprised” if a visit to Galway is on the cards for the sport-loving daring prince who is a motor sports enthuisiast.
However, Prince Carl Philip revealed to Renmore resident and former Battalion Officer William Raftery in Stockholm last week that he will be here for the race finish.
Former Officer Raftery (80) served in the 33rd Battalion in the Congo in 1960 and witnessed the horrors of the Niemba ambush. His photographs form much of the official record of the ambush in which nine men were killed, when they were attacked by 100 members of the Baluba tribe. He was chosen to travel to the military ceremony in Stockholm because a Swedish soldier Stig Von Bayer, who had acted as interpreter for the UN troops in the Congo, was being honoured by the Swedish Armed Forces and by Prince Carl Philip.
Fortmer officer Raftery, who was one of two Irish veterans to travel to Sweden, presented the head of the forces with a local book Traditional Boatbuilding In Ireland, after which he was presented to Prince Carl Philip. He told the Advertiser that he was surprised to discover that he was talking to the official patron of the Volvo Ocean Race.
“I told him where I was from and said to him, you should come to Galway some time. The Volvo Ocean Race is finishing here next month, to which he replied, ‘oh, but I will be there as I am patron of the race and attended the start in Alicante.”
Hopes of a royal visitor at the race finale were seemingly dashed two months ago when a visit by Britain’s Prince Harry as announced by a city councillor was revealed to have been an elaborate hoax after it was printed and broadcast across local and national media. However, the Swedish prince is an adequate replacement. The 33-year-old is the only son and the second of three children of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden. Born Crown Prince of Sweden, he retained his title and first place in succession for seven months until January 1, 1980 when he was stripped of both by a change in the Act of Succession to introduce absolute primogeniture. Currently Prince Carl Philip is third in the line of succession, after his older sister, Crown Princess Victoria and her daughter Princess Estelle, Duchess of Östergötland.
He is keen on sport and athletics, especially football, swimming, and skiing. In 2003, he completed the historic Swedish "Vasaloppet", the longest cross country ski race in the world. Carl Philip also enjoys car racing, a passion he inherited from his great-uncle Prince Bertil, and has a licence to compete. Currently Prince Carl Philip is taking part in the racing series Porsche Carrera Cup Scandinavia in a Porsche 911 GT3.
In 2008 the prince was included as ninth on Forbes magazine's list of "The 20 Hottest Young Royals"
He undertakes royal duties on behalf of his father, King Carl XVI Gustaf and has acted as royal representative in the absence of his father and his older sister, Crown Princess Victoria.
The official Volvo Ocean Race office in London said last night that they cannot as yet officially confirm if its patron will be Galway for the finale but it is hopeful he will be present for what is turning out to be a fascinating race.