MIDWAY : Eternally youthful queen

Ah, Sweden. Fabled heartland of the world’s most liberated women, where the female citizenry breathe the pure air of equality, social progress and all-round good sense. No wonder, then, that here the most fortunate of queens wears a smile that grows ever wider. So remarkably wide has the smile grown, however, that even the normally gushing royal-watching magazine Svensk Damtidning has lost patience and started dropping caustic hints that, when it comes to Swedish womanhood, someone is letting the side down — and that person is none other than Her Majesty.

The Nobel prize ceremony on December 10 will soon ensure that all eyes are on Stockholm. And on cue, Queen Silvia, 63, has emerged from her regular autumn holiday in South America a new woman: “Wrinkles of worry, tiny lines, tired eyes — they’ve all magically disappeared. To achieve such an astonishing result, the queen must surely have had some advanced spa treatment,” croons Svensk Damtidning.

The trip “was a pure elixir of youth”, according to a caption to photographs showing the half-Brazilian looking — as one reader put it on magazine website — “like the Joker in Batman”.

That Queen Silvia feels the need to resort to facelifts remains paradoxical in Sweden, where traditionally there has been less pressure on women to look like baby dolls. The Nordic nation is officially the most gender-equal country in the world, and feminism is so ingrained in public debate that middle-aged male politicians call themselves feminists. It would be considered shocking if they did not.

Swedes love their royal family too, so there’s no need to curry favour with a jaded public through “youthful” looks. “Personally, I think it’s a pity that she’s having plastic surgery,” Karin Lennmor, editor-in-chief of Svensk Damtidning, said. “You should age with your beauty. For me, anyone who has surgery is destroying themselves.” Many in Sweden probably agree. The Nordic country has gone through an unprecedented boom. Women are spending more money on themselves than ever. Having a boob job is no longer frowned upon. Maybe Queen Silvia is simply representing the changing face of Sweden.