The Swedish monarchy
Beyond constitutional and ceremonial duties, Sweden’s royal family is devoted to various good causes.
'For Sweden – with the times.'
This is the motto of King Carl XVI Gustaf, Sweden's current monarch.
Armed with the ambition to serve his country in a manner always suitable to the present, he ascended to the Swedish throne on 15 September 1973.
2023 has seen King Carl XVI Gustaf celebrate 50 years on the throne, as the seventh monarch of the House of Bernadotte and the longest reigning monarch in Swedish history.
To mark this occasion, King Carl XVI Gustaf paid visits to all 21 of Sweden’s regions during the months leading up to the anniversary day. These visits, made together with Queen Silvia, were an opportunity to meet with the people.
Duties and commitments
As Head of State, the King is Sweden’s foremost unifying symbol. According to the 1974 constitution, the monarch has no political affinity or formal powers. His duties are mainly of a ceremonial and representative nature.
Every year in September, King Carl XVI Gustaf opens the Parliamentary Session at the request of the Speaker of the Riksdag. This marks the beginning of a parliamentary working year.
Furthermore, he holds regular Councils of State, an opportunity for ministers to inform the Head of State and the heir to the throne – Crown Princess Victoria – about government policies. And when a new government takes up its duties, the King chairs the Change of Government Council, at the Royal Palace.
He represents Sweden during both incoming and outgoing state visits, building personal relationships between the countries. The visits are planned in consultation with the Government. King Carl XVI Gustaf usually makes two or three state visits abroad each year.
When he is prevented from performing his duties as Head of State, one of King Carl XVI Gustaf’s three children assume the duties of a temporary regent – Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip or Princess Madeleine, in that order.
King Carl XVI Gustaf is known for his strong commitment to the environment and has received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Award.
He is likewise deeply committed to the preservation of Sweden’s cultural heritage and considers it important that the public has access to the royal palaces with their collections and parks.
Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was the first king of the House of Bernadotte, the current dynasty. Born in France in 1763, he was named heir to the Swedish throne in 1810. His name as king was Karl XIV Johan.
King Carl XVI Gustaf was born on 30 April 1946 as the fifth child and only son of Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla. His father died in an air crash in Denmark the following year.
Via his father’s early death, he became King of Sweden at a young age. He was 27 when he succeeded his grandfather Gustaf VI Adolf on the throne, when the latter passed away on 15 September 1973.
In 1972, the then Crown Prince Carl Gustaf 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. A trained interpreter, Silvia is the first Swedish queen to have had a professional career.
King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia married in 1976. At the time royal weddings that included non-nobility were highly unusual, and Queen Silvia has since modernised the position of queen so that it is in step with the times. She has taken strong initiatives to pursue several social issues close to her heart, in particular children’s rights.
King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia reside in Drottningholm Palace, just west of Stockholm.
Crown Princess Victoria – future queen
When she succeeds her father, Crown Princess Victoria will become Sweden’s fourth female monarch in the history of the Kingdom of Sweden, and the first since 1720.
Victoria was born in on 14 July 1977. In 1980, the Succession Act was retroactively made gender-neutral, which changed Victoria’s title from Princess to Crown Princess.
Crown Princess Victoria regularly attends information councils with government ministers, and also steps in as a temporary regent when needed.
Her agenda also includes attending official dinners, openings and visits from foreign dignitaries. She is in great demand as an ambassador for Swedish ventures in culture, art and design, which are also personal interests.
From 2016 to 2018, she was one of 17 ambassadors in the Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy Group, promoting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for 2030. She still works actively with issues concerning water and health (SDG goals 6 and 14).
In 2010, Crown Princess Victoria married Daniel Westling, who became Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland. Their first child, Princess Estelle, was born in 2012 and is second in line to the Swedish throne. Third in line is Princess Estelle’s brother, Prince Oscar, born in 2016.
The family lives in Haga Palace outside Stockholm, the birthplace and early home of King Carl XVI Gustaf.
The Swedish Crown Princess Couple’s Foundation combats social isolation and promotes good health among children and youths in Sweden. It was established by Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel to mark the occasion of their marriage.
Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel have also initiated Generation Pep, a non-profit organisation working to spread knowledge and engage people and organisations in making it easier for children and young people to live healthy lives with sufficient exercise and correct nutrition.
Three famous Swedish monarchs
Gustav II Adolf (1611–1632)
Intervened in the Thirty Years’ War, making Sweden a leading military power. Gustav II Adolf was killed at the Battle of Lützen.
The first female monarch after Sweden became a hereditary monarchy. Abdicated in 1654, converting to Catholicism and settling in Rome.
Gustav III (1771–1792)
Called the Theatre King, Gustav III founded Stockholm's first opera, the Swedish Academy and the Royal Academy of Music. Assasinated at a masquerade ball.
Prince Carl Philip
Prince Carl Philip, Duke of Värmland, is the second oldest of the three siblings.
In 2015, Prince Carl Philip married Sofia Hellqvist, now Princess Sofia. In connection with the wedding, the Prince Couple’s Foundation was started.
With the vision that all children and young people should have the possibility to be themselves, the foundation has its work focus on creating a safer internet environment, as well as improving the respect and understanding for people with dyslexia.
Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia have three sons: Prince Alexander (born 2016), Prince Gabriel (2017), and Prince Julian (2021).
Princess Madeleine, Duchess of Häsingland and Gästrikland, is the youngest of the three siblings.
Since 2006, she has been involved in the World Childhood Foundation, an organisation started by Queen Silvia which works to protect children from violence and sexual abuse.
In recent years, Princess Madeleine has lived with her family in the United States, where she has continued to be involved in the work of the World Childhood Foundation. She has been the organisation's Vice Honorary Chair since December 2021.
On 8 June 2013, Princess Madeleine married British–American businessman Christopher O’Neill. He has not added Bernadotte to his name, preferring instead to retain his UK and US citizenships. He therefore has no royal titles and is not an official member of the Royal Family.
Princess Madeleine and Christopher O-Neill have three children: Princess Leonore (born 2014), Prince Nicolas (2015), and Princess Adrienne (2018).