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Sweden's Princess Victoria
Shows Off Combat Skills

ALMNAS, Sweden - Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria demonstrated her combat and first aid skills to the media on Tuesday as part of a three-week military training course to prepare her for international peacekeeping missions. The 25-year-old princess, the oldest of the three children of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia, told Reuters in her fatigues, camouflage facepaint and full battle equipment that the course had been good but tiring.

"I have learned a lot," she said, handling her AK-5 assault rifle with practiced ease. "It has been tough, sleeping less and carrying heavy stuff, but extremely interesting." The princess and 41 other men and women are practicing combat skills, marksmanship, first aid and chemical warfare safety at the Swedish armed forces' peacekeeping training ground south of Stockholm.

Victoria's basic military training is part of her royal training in all aspects of Swedish public life. The Swedish heir-apparent has also been an intern at the United Nations in New York and at Swedish foreign trade offices in Berlin and Paris. Enlisting for military service is obligatory for men in Sweden but only a third actually undergo training. For women it is voluntary and about 16,000 men and women undergo military service every year.

Victoria completed a one-kilometer forced march in full combat gear in less than 5 minutes, a time that almost qualified her for Special Forces duty, said Captain Lars Wetterskog. "The Crown Princess has handled herself extremely well," he said. Although the princess will be eligible for U.N. peacekeeping duty after completing the course, a foreign posting is not on the cards. "I can assure you that the next step will not be a trip to Kosvo or anywhere else," said a court spokesman.

Source: Reuters, March 19 2003 - pic from Hello!
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