Anna (Agnetha Fältskog) of the world-famous ABBA singing group did not know it, but when she revealed that she was expecting a baby, there was a whoop of delight from Princess Anne of England.
Quite unknown to the blonde who is married to another singer in the chart-topping Swedish foursome, the Queen of England’s daughter is one of her most fanatical fans. Every record issued by ABBA is eagerly snapped up by the Princess, and she plays the Swedish group’s hits again and again at her home, particularly in the evenings when her husband Mark Phillips is busy with his army duties.
“Anna and Princess Anne will have their babies in November,” says Björn Ulvaeus, husband of the blonde 27-year-old singer. “It would be wonderful if the two babies were born on the same day!
“We will try to celebrate in the best manner possible. We will write a special song to commemorate the event! Of course, we will send Princess Anne a special copy of it!”
The baby which will be born to Anna is her second child. She already has a four-year-old daughter, Linda Ulvaeus.
There is nothing accidental about the happy event in the life of Anna.
“The baby was carefully planned,” says Björn Ulvaeus. “We conceived it just before our European tour in January. That’s the way we wanted it.”
Anna explains why she decided to have a second child.
“I had a very happy childhood, and don’t want Linda to grow up as a lonely single child. I don’t mind if the baby is a girl or a boy - but to be honest I rather hope it will be a boy!”
Neither child could possibly have a more dramatic debut than Anna. Her first stage appearance was at the tender age of five.
Her father liked to stage shows in their home town, the lakeside Jönköping, and he thought it was a good idea if his daughter, Agnetha, should sing for a gathering of old folk
“I don’t remember singing,” says Anna. “But I do remember the audience suddenly bursting into hysterical laughter.
“My knickers had fallen to the ground, after the elastic snapped!”
From that moment Anna decided she would give up all idea of singing. She left school at the age of 16 and got a job as a telephone switchboard operator.
Then she had an unhappy love affair.
To console herself she wrote her first song, and although it did very little to soothe her aching heart, the number: I Was So In Love, brought her instant fame and success.
Her private life was tempestuous as she fell in and out of love, and became engaged to a German songwriter, Dieter Zimmerman.
“Actually,” she says, “I never lost my interest in music, although I was put off going on stage. When I was 10 I was given my own piano and I began to appear as a guest singer.”
From then onwards the details of Anna’s career are known to the whole world. She went to Stockholm with I Was So In Love,” then married Björn after the couple had gone to live in a small apartment overlooking a canal.
They were married in a small village church, and in 1973 their first baby, Linda Elin Ulvaeus was born.
“It was remembering my own childhood which made me quite determined that Linda would have at least one brother or sister,” says Anna.
“We were all so close that after I became famous in Stockholm I tried very hard to persuade my father and mother to come and live with us, or at least near us. I wanted them to move from their home, so that we could all be close - as we were in my early childhood.
“I have a younger sister Mona, and I have missed her a great deal.”
But neither Anna’s parents nor her sister wanted to make a big move.
“We all felt that we would be awkward and unhappy in a major city after living all our lives in a small community,” said the singer’s father. “We are small townspeople and quite happy to stay that way. Anyway, our younger daughter Mona needs us more than Agnetha does.
Mona who followed in her sister’s footsteps by working as a telephone operator, is now married to a taxi-driver.
“I have no musical ambitions at all,” she says.
“I guess I had enough of it when Agnetha was at home, singing and playing the piano all day long. She used to sing and play all night, then go to work next day and fall asleep over her telephone.
“That cured me of ever wanting to follow in her footsteps as a musician or singer!”
Anna is very fond of children. Not only her youngster. She once made a special tour of schools in the area in which she was brought up, singing for thousands of youngsters.
However, it was not pop songs which she sang. It was a song - which she had written - teaching boys and girls the correct way to brush their teeth!
One of the sadness of her career as a pop-singer is that Anna has to live Linda at home a great deal when she goes on extensive tours.
“I was quite unhappy in the months after Linda was born,” says Anna. “I had a bad conscience for I believed that I was neglecting my daughter, and that is the last thing that I wanted. I used to cry about it.
“But now Linda is old enough to understand that I have to be away at work a lot. In the days ahead I hope to be able to spend more time with her - and of course looking after the baby which is on its way!”
Certainly, it was almost impossible for Anna to give it all up after ABBA’s win at the Eurovision Song Contest at Brighton in 1974. Since then the group has become one of the most successful entertainment units in the world. They have sold over 30 million single records and 20 million LPs.
Anna is very careful about avoiding criticism that she does not care for her daughter – or her future second child.
For her fellow female star in the foursome, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, has had to face considerable hostility about her role as a mother.
Anni-Frid and Benny Andersson (who make up the foursome) have previous children in their lives. Although they have been living together for the past seven years both have past relationships which produced babies.
Anni-Frid has a son, Hans Fredriksson, who is 14 now, and Lise-Lotte Fredriksson, 10, with her husband Ragnar Fredriksson. She left him to devote her life to her career as a singer, and it is Ragnar (the couple are now divorced) who looks after the two youngsters.
“The children live a very happy and good life,” says Anni-Frid. “I miss them, but I cannot allow myself to think about that. I certainly would not be able to care for them in the way they are looked after now. I still see them from time to time of course when they come to stay with us.”
Benny Andersson has two children Peter Grönvall, currently 13, but turning 14 later this month on the 20th of August, 1977, and Heléne Grönvall, 12.
They arrived during the first few years he lived with his school days sweetheart, Christina Grönval. He then left her, and the embittered Christina said: “You should tell the world about me and the kids…the family you don’t have room for in the glittery world of a pop idol.”
No criticism of any kind have been leveled at Anna’s personal life.
She may be unsure at whether the baby is going to be a boy or a girl, but there is one certainty. It is that the child will be a millionaire - millionaires – from the moment Anna presents the baby to the world. For each member of ABBA is incredibly rich thanks to their skills in the world of pop. Transcribed for ABBA World
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