Sunday, July 24, 2016

Chris O'Neill talks family life and work with Expressen.

Photo: Suvad Mrkonjic
Solliden Palace. Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill are enjoying the Swedish summer on Öland. In a big summer interview, Chris O'Neill tells us now about tennis mornings and family home evenings at Solliden, how Nicolas took his first steps the other day and how the little Prince looks up to Leonore - and Chris O'Neill hopes to see the family grow more. 
We want to have more children. Both Madeleine and I want a big family. One or two more. 
It is an early morning at Solliden Palace. In a moment, the Palace shall be open to the public and the Royal Family get down to the private boathouse down by Kalmar to enjoy the glorious weather. One of the family members, Chris O'Neill, has chosen to take a little break this morning.I'ts almost exactly a year ago that he told me why he and Madeleine would leave Sweden in the fall and move to London. Now they have been living in London for almost 12 months and Chris summarizes the impressions:

For me it was like coming home again, of course. For Madeleine it was something completely new to move from New York to London, but it has worked wonderfully well. We moved to be closer to Sweden and I would still be able to do my work. Now it is so much easier being able to get back and forth to Stockholm for Madeleine. It's a completely different freedom.


We meet up at the King's Coffee Torp inside at Solliden. Chris chose a table a little aloof. It's still early and no one gets to notice him.I love Öland and Solliden Palace. It is a fantastic place and a wonderful place to be in the summer, he says.


How has the first year in London been? 

We're about to get into everything, and above all,  Nicolas and Leonore. They're what is called pseudo twins because they are so close in age.It has been a busy year. Both Madeleine and I have worked great. Besides my job and Madeleine's royal mission and commitment to Childhood, we focus heavily on family life and children. For example, we prepared the children's schools. Leonore starting kindergarten in the fall. It feels good.

How long will you stay in London?We have not set any time limit. However, it will be at least two to three years. Then we'll see what happens.

Is it okay for Madeleine? 

Yes absolutely. We feel both very good in England.

Chris O'Neill has previously reported on his work - how he helps other companies with different payment solutions through his company Wilton Payments. Helping large companies to secure new business at lower costs, long-term contracts and electronic payment solutions.I'm working on it. It takes longer than you think to develop such payment solutions to large enterprises. You can come up with a good idea and yet three years later remain in the same process. 

Especially if you work with large companies. It's a bit like an oil tanker. But once you've driven it and have a straight course and do a good job, it will be the company that will be loyal to you. You have to constantly be present, and it requires a lot of me.
 How much do you work?

A lot.
I travel a lot, but above all, about 75 per cent in London. The trips I make, for example, Zurich or Milan is the day, so that I don't have to spend a night in a hotel. Back in London, I have an office that I share with a few other enterprises, and in the evenings I can be home with Madeleine and the children.

How is the weekend in London?

London is so much more child-friendly than New York. Usually on the weekends you can go to lots of parks like Richmond Park and Hyde Park. Even museums and a variety of aquariums. Both London and Stockholm are built more child-friendly than New York. On the evenings we prioritize being at home with the children. Both Madeleine and I are very much about family dinners and just being at home.Chris begins to proudly talk about the kids Princess Leonore and Prince Nicolas:

 
Both Madeleine and I agree that life can not be much better than what it is today with these two little creatures. There are two completely different characters and you can see now that Nicolas is watching every single thing that Leonore makes and admires her.

Nicolas took his first steps the other day! says Chris and shining up. They weren't the most secure, but they're his first steps. Leonore went when she was 12 months. But I read somewhere that girls usually go earlier than boys.


What is the difference between Leonore and Nicolas?

They're
completely different individuals. Nicolas is a soft little guy. Leonore is dominant and a certain small girl. And by the way, says Chris. I think Nicolas has inherited something of his uncle Carl Philip and grandfather the King. He loves everything that has a motor. He's completely obsessed with everything related to the engines. So we do know how it will be in the future, he says, laughing.

Do you want more children?

Yes absolutely. Since it's not a foregone conclusion. Madeleine and I love having a big family. But we want to wait with the kids right now. I feel that we must focus on Nicolas and Leonore. Make sure they get our time and that we see them 100 percent. But in the future, absolutely! 

How many more? A child? Two children? 
Chris laughs: One or two, accurate, he says and laughs again.Last winter was Chris and Madeleine were in "Skavlan 'on SVT and told for the first time about their relationship on TV. Chris is happy he did it: I have received many positive reactions. It feels good. Many have told me that they had a "very different picture of you" before "Skavlan".

 Do you Recognise it? That people who do not know you have a preconceived idea about you? 
Yes absolutely. We all have images and perceptions of people we may not know. My friends know who I am and what  kind of person I am. Since I am convinced that there are people who change their minds after perhaps seen a program like "Skavlan". It's always easy to judge anyone, but I believe in giving everyone a chance and get to know them as individuals. 

Do you find it hard to be public? 
It is what it is. I'm getting more and more used to it. Like making a TV show like "Skavlan" with so many viewers I was of course nervous. It was not the easiest. Being a public person has all its aspects. All the paparazzi if you are on vacation is such a thing. It can get annoying after a while. But that's a small price you pay.

How?
 I do not think much about it anymore. I have my amazing family and kids and have to say I think we've got to have a good and protected the privacy of the past year. Madeleine and I are committed to giving children a childhood as normal as possible. That they are protected and can have their life. Since're both Madeleine and I are aware that there will never be 100 percent normal, as for other children who are not public.

 Photo: Suvad Mrkonjic
You have left the United States and your summer house in Florida is on sale. Why? 
It is easy. We do not use it anymore. To have a house in Florida means a constant maintenance of everything from garden to pool and even when we are not there we need to have the air conditioner. Things like those cost a lot on the long run.Then there is Florida and all the insurances. Everything from insurance against flooding, to hurricanes. While it pulls in the way of costs. Now we do not use the house any longer, and therefore decided to sell it. Nothing goes fast in Florida so it will probably take its time to be sold.Chris and Madeleine are in Öland to enjoy the Swedish summer. Chris manages his operations from the castle:The King had the kindness to lend an office to me and from there I can control my business. In the rest of Europe and the United States now in the holidays. We're are all about to complete everything to go on vacation. So you have to fight on even harder. I go this weekend back and forth to London and will do so in the coming weeks. Madeleine, however, will stay in Öland with the children for at least a couple more weeks. 

What do you do everyday in Öland?
 I begin each morning with a game of tennis. 

Who do you play against?
 It could be Madeleine or Carl Philip. I also have a professional tennis coach from Borgholm coming and run different sports with me. Since we usually go down to the boathouse with the kids and just swim. I love to swim with the kids. There is so much to do inside at Solliden. If it's not the fantastic strawberry or raspberry plantations, it's horses for Leonore. Then we hang out a lot with the family and grandfather King and grandmother Silvia.
 

Do you eat breakfast with the rest of the Royal Family? 
Yes absolutely. We usually try to gather in the morning at breakfast.

 How do evenings go out? 
Usually we cook food first to the children and then add them. After that we usually get dinner with the rest of the family. Sometimes down at the beach when the weather is good. Then Madeleine and I can have nights when we just take a pizza and watch a movie.
 

Which movies then? 
I love old classic movies such as "submarine" and "The Hunt for Red October." Comedy is also something that I like. 

What about Madeleine? 
She likes action and new movies. Since we both like series. "The Good Wife" and "Suits" are two that we are watching.

Have you seen "Making a murderer" on Netflix? 

No, I have completely missed it. It is good, then? Thanks for the tip! 

How is your relationship with the King and Queen? 
Amazing. They are two wonderful and generous people. With both their time, love and warmth. They are also two incredibly good sounding board. Both have as much knowledge as I can ask about the different issues. The Queen is very humble. She is as she usually say a woman with Brazilian Heart and German brain. Incredibly sharp. 
 
Photo: Suvad Mrkonjic

And the King, then? 
He has a life experience that is huge. Just sit in the evenings and hear all his stories and all he has been through. It is huge. And very entertaining. I also have a fantastic relationship with the others in the family such as Victoria and Daniel and Carl Philip and Sofia.

 Did you feel welcome from the beginning into the Royal Family? 
From day one! Undoubtedly. 

Why do you think so? 
Everyone rely on Madeleine and her opinion. They know the incredibly wise woman she is.

 We end the interview taking a walk up on Alvar and taking pictures of Chris. Once there, Chris tells us that Alvar is a beathtaking for him and Madeleine:

We usually try to get here every day. It's tremendously beautiful.There, in the middle of Alvar, Chris and I talk about everything that is currently happening in the world. Everything from attacks in Nice to, most recently, Turkey.

It's just terrible. Just terrible, he says and shakes his head.We're talking about the English choice to stay or leave the EU. It became brexit - leave EUDue to my work, you probably understand what I think about brexit. Of course England will not leave. I believe that no side won because it was precisely those who are dissatisfied and want out England from the EU went and voted. Had more people who want to stay gone to the polling stations had been different. But what is happening now is not good.Before we be separated, I ask Chris if he follows the forthcoming elections in the United States:Yes of course.

Trump or Hillary?

 Well I can say as much as that of Clinton is elected we have three women in leadership in five of the world's leading economies. It would be amazing.Chris apologizes. Inside Solliden are waiting Madeleine and the children Leonore and Nicolas.Madeleine has some friends visiting with children. So it becomes the beach and swimming in the day. Another great family day at Öland, he says with a big smile.

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