Chris O'Neill: Meet the man who will be a 'dream' husband for Princess Madeleine
As the old saying goes, you have to kiss a few frogs before you find Prince Charming. Now, Princess Madeleine of Sweden has found Chris O'Neill after facing some hard knocks on the path to true love. Madeleine recently announced her engagement to the dashing financier, whom she met after moving to New York following a devastating split from her ex-fiancé and boyfriend of eight years, Jonas Bergström. Their relationship broke down amidst claims that Jonas had been unfaithful to Swedish royal with a Norwegian student during a skiing holiday.
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However, millionaire Chris helped banish the shadow that the tumultuous time cast over Madeleine's life. Almost two years after being introduced by mutual friends, the couple made their nest in a luxury apartment in Manhattan. The rest is royal history, or at least it will be when they seal their love in a lavish wedding ceremony next summer.
So who is the man that wooed a princess? According to Madeleine's mother, Queen Silvia, he is "every mother-in-law's dream". This glowing review comes courtesy of his gallant behaviour – and his glittering society credentials. Christopher O'Neill was born in London on June 27, 1974, to a wealthy and influential family who granted him an international education.
Elementary British schooling was later refined at the prestigious Swiss boarding school, Institute auf dem Rosenberg. Graduation brought more opportunities for learning and Chris' Economics and Finance degree from Columbia University snared him stints at eminent financial firms like NM Rothschild and Sons, Steinberg Asset Management and Noster Capital – the New York hedge fund where he is currently a partner.
When he hangs up his suit of a day, the 38-year-old indulges his passions for classical music, literature and sport. He is an avid skier, plays tennis and golf, and follows Chelsea Football Club when he just wants to watch rather than compete. His social side regularly draws him to galas, dinners and fundraisers in the Big Apple. These events are now the stage upon which he and Madeleine revel in their roles as a New York's smitten power couple.
The Swedish princess' future in-laws will be completely at ease with her new place in their family – the O'Neills are used to moving in privileged circles. Chris' Austrian mother Eva Maria is a friend of Prince Charles and made a splash in 2003 when she invited the future King to the Amadeus festival. As the organiser of the annual celebration of Mozart's music, Eva greeted the Prince with a kiss – a gesture which was captured by the British press and witnessed by Camilla, who also attended the event.
With the passing of his father, investment bank founder Paul O'Neill who died in December 2004, Chris and Eva represent the family, with support from five half-sisters – Tatjana and Natasha from his mother's side, and Stephanie, Karen and and Annalisa who share the same father as Chris. Some of the girls have also married prominent partners, just as their brother is about to do. Tatjana is wed to English aristocrat Henry d'Abo, whose family live in a house close to Cambridge, West Wratting Hall. His other sibling, Natascha, is a British journalist for society fashion magazine Tatler. In 1995, she married the Austrian Count Ernst von und Traun Abensperg, whose family have owned a sprawling castle in Austria since 1537.
But it will be in the castles of Sweden where their brother will join the ranks of high profile marriages in the summer of 2013. Chris is learning Swedish for the occasion, admitting that he "knows a few phrases". The first of those was used to endear himself to the Scandinavian country, describing it as "fantastic, beautiful, with lovely people". His effort and kind words lead us to understand why the queen would call him "every mother-in-law's dream". And after placing a stunning diamond ring on Madeleine's finger, that accolade now extends to include every princess' dream.