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The Swedish monarchy

The Swedish monarchy, regarded as the world’s most modern, has become even more popular in recent years. One of the reasons may be that Crown Princess Victoria has become a very popular ambassador for the country.

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Photo: Anders Wiklund/Scanpix

A modern royal family

Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling were married on 19 June 2010 in Stockholm. In conjunction with the wedding, Daniel Westling was given the title H.R.H. Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland. They had been married for 18 months when they had their first child. The new heir to the Swedish throne, Princess Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary, was born at 04.26 on 24 February 2012, at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm.

The King of Sweden

The king, Carl XVI Gustaf, is the seventh monarch of the House of Bernadotte. He was born on 30 April 1946, the fifth child and only son of Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla of Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha. Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf died in a plane crash in Denmark the following year.

At the age of four, Carl Gustaf became crown prince of Sweden when his great-grandfather Gustaf V died and was succeeded by the then 68-year-old Gustaf VI Adolf, the crown prince’s grandfather.

Gustaf Adolf died after serving as monarch for 23 years, and the 27-year-old crown prince became King Carl XVI Gustaf in 1973. His motto is ‘For Sweden – with the times.’

It went click

In 1972, the crown prince met his German-Brazilian future wife, Silvia Sommerlath, who was born in 1943 in Germany. They met in Munich during the Olympic Games, where Silvia was chief hostess. It ‘just went click,’ the royal couple noted in an interview after their engagement in 1976.

Queen Silvia is a trained interpreter without either royal or noble origins, and is the first Swedish queen to have had a professional career. She has modernised the position of queen so that it is in step with the times and has pursued a strong commitment to social issues.

Three children

The king and queen have three children: Crown Princess Victoria Ingrid Alice Désirée, Duchess of Västergötland, born on 14 July 1977; Prince Carl Philip Edmund, Duke of Värmland, born on 13 May 1979; and Princess Madeleine Thérèse Amelie Josephine, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland, born on June 10, 1982.

On June 8 2013, Princess Madeleine married U.S.-British banker Christopher O’Neill in the chapel of the Royal Palace of Stockholm.

Since 1981 the royal family has lived in Drottningholm Palace, outside Stockholm. However, only the King and Queen live there today.

The royal family: Prince Carl Philip, Crown Princess Victoria, King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia and Princess Madeleine.

Photo: Charles Hammarsten/IBL

For Sweden – with the times

Sweden is one of the world’s most stable and egalitarian democracies, with a monarchy that has strong roots and public support. The monarchy, as shaped by King Carl XVI Gustaf, has been adapted to the age we live in.

As head of state, the king is Sweden’s foremost unifying symbol, apolitical and without formal powers, based on the new constitution approved in 1974. The king’s duties are mainly of a ceremonial and representative nature.

King Carl Gustaf has a strong environmental commitment and is a recognised authority on environmental issues.

Among other things, he has received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Award. The king is likewise deeply committed to the preservation of Sweden’s cultural heritage and considers it important, for example, that the royal palaces be open to the public in order to show their collections and parks.

An active monarch

King Carl Gustaf is an active monarch and keeps up to date on current affairs and the Swedish business sector. In addition to two or three state visits abroad each year, he takes part in international trips organised by the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences and the World Scout Foundation. Under the collective label ‘Royal Colloquium’, the king also organises high-level seminars on various themes in collaboration with Swedish scientists.

Thousands of invitations

Once a week, King Carl Gustaf holds a planning meeting with the queen, the crown princess and their closest staff members. They discuss the invitations and requests to participate in events received by the king, the queen and the crown princess and decide which are most important. They make sure that their appearances are spread across Sweden. The royal family receives thousands of invitations each year.

When the king is prevented from performing his duties as head of state, for example during a trip abroad, Crown Princess Victoria or her younger siblings, Prince Carl Philip or Princess Madeleine, in that order, assume the duties of temporary regent.

Crown Princess Victoria – Sweden’s future queen

Sweden’s future monarch is well educated and knowledgeable in a range of areas. She is described as being down to earth, enthusiastic and having a sense of humour.

Crown Princess Victoria is in great demand as an ambassador for successful Swedish ventures in culture, art and design, fields she enjoys herself. Her enthusiasm and knowledge make her a much-appreciated representative of Sweden. The crown princess is approachable, hardworking and respectful of traditions.

The future monarch of Sweden has had an extensive education. Crown Princess Victoria began her formal education at local state-run schools. Aged 13, she switched to a public (private) school when she began her secondary school studies.

She graduated in 1996 with good grades despite having dyslexia, which meant that she had to devote a great deal of time and energy to her schoolwork. The crown princess’s studies at universities and other academic institutions constitute an important part of her education – but as heir to the throne she must continuously maintain a breadth of knowledge on social issues. Courses in individual subjects have been seen as having greater importance than a specific academic degree.

Student at Yale

After graduating from upper secondary school in the fall of 1996, the crown princess studied French for foreign students at the Université Catholique de l’Ouest in Angers, France. In 1998, the crown princess enrolled at Yale University in the United States where she studied for five semesters, taking courses in geology, history and international relations. During her time at Yale, her interest in international issues deepened and she took private lessons in current affairs, wrote an essay on the role of the United Nations in Iraq and completed internships at the UN in New York and the Swedish Embassy in Washington, DC. As well as Swedish, she speaks English, French and German.

Later, in the spring of 2002, she continued her international studies at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, Sweden. She has studied the structure and functioning of Swedish society, partly through internships at Swedish government offices and various other institutions. For example, through a study programme at the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), she visited Uganda and Ethiopia. She has also served as an intern at the offices of the Swedish Trade Council in Berlin and Paris, has undergone basic military training and has taken courses at the Swedish National Defense College in Stockholm.

Political science

Continuing studies in social science subjects have been demanding. Her course in constitutional policy included the applications and consequences of rules concerning the electoral system, parliamentary government, referendums, federalism and the court system. The crown princess has also pursued studies in political science.

The royal couple with the newly born Princess Victoria in 1977.

Photo: Jan Collsiö/Scanpix

Female heir to the throne

Since 1980, Sweden has had fully cognatic succession, which means that the first-born child of the monarch is heir to the throne, regardless of gender.

The job description of Sweden’s head of state is found in the constitution. The heir to the throne should be educated so as to represent Sweden in a constitutionally correct way, something Swedes appreciate. This is vital because, in order to be effective, the heir to the throne needs the support of the Swedish people. In this case, the crown princess has a model in her father, King Carl Gustaf, who has modernised the Swedish monarchy in keeping with the times. Crown Princess Victoria will become Sweden’s 70th monarch and the third female monarch in the history of the Kingdom of Sweden.

Commemorative medal and dinner service

An official commemorative medal has been created for the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling in June. The medal, designed by sculptor Peter Linde, is available in gold, silver and bronze. On the obverse of the medal is a depiction of the couple and on the reverse their home, Haga Palace.

An official dinner service has also been produced to mark the wedding. The series, developed by Swedish porcelain maker Gustavsberg, is decorated with a pattern inspired by an existing design from Drottningholm Palace. Proceeds from the sale of the dinner service will go to the Crown Princess Wedding Foundation, which is dedicated to fighting social exclusion and promoting good health among Swedish children and young adults.

Useful links

Swedish Royal Court
Government Offices of Sweden
Historical atlas

Last updated: 25 March 2014

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