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Tuesday, 13 August, 2002, 12:39 GMT 13:39 UK
Swedish princess reveals bullying secret
Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden
Princess Victoria: Classmates laughed as she read aloud
Swedish Crown Princess Victoria has revealed that she was bullied at school because she suffered from dyslexia.

Her classmates used to laugh at her as she attempted to read aloud, and she herself believed that she was stupid.

Princess Victoria decided to make the spontaneous personal revelations after being invited to open a conference on bullying, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Royal Palace told BBC News Online.


I don't have any problems talking about it openly. But there are many who haven't received as much support as I

Princess Victoria
Princess Victoria's father, King Carl XVI Gustaf, also suffers from the condition, which leaves sufferers struggling to read and spell.

"I used to think I was stupid and slow," the Princess told the conference.

"For me school was fun, but it was also very demanding. When one has reading and writing difficulties, it can be tough sometimes.

"It can sound like a simple problem, but it isn't. I know."

The organisers of the bullying conference, held at the University of Orebro in central Sweden, did not know in advance that their royal guest was planning to reveal her own personal experience of the problem.

"She just felt she wanted to talk about her problems," said royal information officer Catherine Broms, from Sweden's Royal Palace in Stockholm.


Because she was bullied over her dyslexia, she can understand how others feel

Royal Palace information officer
"She didn't write the speech in advance - it was just spontaneous."

The princess has occasionally mentioned her dyslexia in the past, but has never gone into such detail about the problems it caused her.

"Because she was bullied over her dyslexia, she can understand how others feel," said Ms Broms.

"Her classmates would laugh at her. It was nothing very serious."

The princess may have been hoping to increase public understanding of dyslexia and its effects, the palace confirmed.

"I don't have any problems talking about it openly. But there are many who haven't received as much support as I," Princess Victoria told the conference.

Sweden's Expressen newspaper said that after the princess' problem was discovered, a special teacher was hired by the royal family to help her overcome the problem.

The condition of dyslexia is relatively common. Between 5% and 10% of the population are estimated to be affected.

Its cause is not fully understood, but is linked to brain activity. In recent years scientists have confirmed a genetic link.

Campaigners want better testing of young children, so that problems are spotted early.

Many leading figures are thought to have been affected to some degree by dyslexia - among them Sir Winston Churchill, Hans Christian Andersen, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein.

See also:

23 Jul 02 | Education
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