Group photo of the Swedish royal family, some sitting some standing. Taken in a room at the Royal Palace in Stockholm.
King Carl XVI Gustaf surrounded by family members. Photo: Clément Morin/Royal Court of Sweden

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.

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, with duties mainly of a ceremonial and representative nature.

Longest reigning monarch

In 2023, King Carl XVI Gustaf celebrated 50 years on the throne, as the seventh monarch of the House of Bernadotte and the longest reigning monarch in Swedish history.

Duties and commitments

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 commitment to the environment. He also promotes Sweden’s cultural heritage, for example by granting the public access to the royal palaces with their collections and parks. 

Group portrait of the Swedish King, Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Estelle.

Three generations of Swedish royals, from left: Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Estelle and King Carl XVI Gustaf.

Casually clothed Crown Princess Victoria and Crown Prince Daniel in a warm embrace, the crown princess looking into the camera.

Crown Princess Victoria and Crown Prince Daniel on a day off. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

The Crown Princess family waving a flag in front of a telly.

The Crown Princess family cheering on the Swedish handball team. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

Princess Madeleine holding a baby in a church, surrounded by priests and other people.

Princess Madeleine at the christening of her daughter, Princess Adrienne, in 2018. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Group photo of Prince Carl Philip, Princess Sofia, Prince Alexander and Prince Gabriel.

Christmas greeting from Prince Carl Philip with family. Photo: Victor Ericsson/Royal Court of Sweden

Queen Silvia and King Carl XVI Gustaf sitting on a bench in leisure clothes.

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia on a state visit to India. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

The Swedish king and queen on red carpet together with Indian officials.

Indian governor Shri Bhagat receives the Swedish king and queen. Photo: Embassy of Sweden, New Delhi

The Swedish king and queen on a beach, holding a container with rubbish.

Indian lawyer and environmental activist Afroz Shah telling the Swedish royal couple about a beach cleaning project. Photo: Embassy of Sweden, New Delhi

Group portrait of the Swedish King, Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Estelle.

Three generations of Swedish royals, from left: Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Estelle and King Carl XVI Gustaf.

Casually clothed Crown Princess Victoria and Crown Prince Daniel in a warm embrace, the crown princess looking into the camera.

Crown Princess Victoria and Crown Prince Daniel on a day off. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

The Crown Princess family waving a flag in front of a telly.

The Crown Princess family cheering on the Swedish handball team. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

Princess Madeleine holding a baby in a church, surrounded by priests and other people.

Princess Madeleine at the christening of her daughter, Princess Adrienne, in 2018. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Group photo of Prince Carl Philip, Princess Sofia, Prince Alexander and Prince Gabriel.

Christmas greeting from Prince Carl Philip with family. Photo: Victor Ericsson/Royal Court of Sweden

Queen Silvia and King Carl XVI Gustaf sitting on a bench in leisure clothes.

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia on a state visit to India. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

The Swedish king and queen on red carpet together with Indian officials.

Indian governor Shri Bhagat receives the Swedish king and queen. Photo: Embassy of Sweden, New Delhi

The Swedish king and queen on a beach, holding a container with rubbish.

Indian lawyer and environmental activist Afroz Shah telling the Swedish royal couple about a beach cleaning project. Photo: Embassy of Sweden, New Delhi

Group portrait of the Swedish King, Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Estelle.

Three generations of Swedish royals, from left: Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Estelle and King Carl XVI Gustaf.

Casually clothed Crown Princess Victoria and Crown Prince Daniel in a warm embrace, the crown princess looking into the camera.

Crown Princess Victoria and Crown Prince Daniel on a day off. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

The Crown Princess family waving a flag in front of a telly.

The Crown Princess family cheering on the Swedish handball team. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

Princess Madeleine holding a baby in a church, surrounded by priests and other people.

Princess Madeleine at the christening of her daughter, Princess Adrienne, in 2018. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

Group photo of Prince Carl Philip, Princess Sofia, Prince Alexander and Prince Gabriel.

Christmas greeting from Prince Carl Philip with family. Photo: Victor Ericsson/Royal Court of Sweden

Queen Silvia and King Carl XVI Gustaf sitting on a bench in leisure clothes.

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia on a state visit to India. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

The Swedish king and queen on red carpet together with Indian officials.

Indian governor Shri Bhagat receives the Swedish king and queen. Photo: Embassy of Sweden, New Delhi

The Swedish king and queen on a beach, holding a container with rubbish.

Indian lawyer and environmental activist Afroz Shah telling the Swedish royal couple about a beach cleaning project. Photo: Embassy of Sweden, New Delhi

Background

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.

Because of 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.

Queen Silvia

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 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 on 14 July 1977. In 1980, the Succession Act was retroactively made gender-neutral, which made Victoria’s title change 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 young people 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.

Kristina (1632–1654)

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 Crown Princess Victoria's brother and 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

Princess Madeleine, Duchess of Häsingland and Gästrikland, is Crown Princess Victoria's and Prince Carl Philip's younger sibling.

Since 2006, she has been involved in the World Childhood Foundation, an organisation started by Queen Silvia that 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).

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Crown Princess Victoria seated at a long table with the new Swedish government.

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Crown Princess Victoria at the Change of Government Council in October 2022. Photo: Ingemar Lindewall/Royal Court of Sweden

Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar dressed up and standing by a railing, a uniformed guard in the background.

Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. Photo: Linda Broström/Royal Court of Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel dressed up and standing in a green landscape.

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel photographed for their ten-year anniversary. Photo: Elisabeth Toll/Royal Court of Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria, surrounded by people, by a pile of rocks, burnt trees in the background.

Crown Princess Victoria visiting a nature reserve in Västmanland, where a great forest fire raged in 2014. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria in sporty winter clothes, skiing together with other people.

Crown Princess Victoria skiing along the Kalix River. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria in a football T-shirt being shown something on a woman's mobile phone. Crown Princess Victoria has been selected to this list of Swedish women.

Crown Princess Victoria on a hike through the province of Jämtland. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Crown Princess Victoria seated at a long table with the new Swedish government.

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Crown Princess Victoria at the Change of Government Council in October 2022. Photo: Ingemar Lindewall/Royal Court of Sweden

Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar dressed up and standing by a railing, a uniformed guard in the background.

Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. Photo: Linda Broström/Royal Court of Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel dressed up and standing in a green landscape.

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel photographed for their ten-year anniversary. Photo: Elisabeth Toll/Royal Court of Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria, surrounded by people, by a pile of rocks, burnt trees in the background.

Crown Princess Victoria visiting a nature reserve in Västmanland, where a great forest fire raged in 2014. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria in sporty winter clothes, skiing together with other people.

Crown Princess Victoria skiing along the Kalix River. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria in a football T-shirt being shown something on a woman's mobile phone. Crown Princess Victoria has been selected to this list of Swedish women.

Crown Princess Victoria on a hike through the province of Jämtland. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Crown Princess Victoria seated at a long table with the new Swedish government.

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Crown Princess Victoria at the Change of Government Council in October 2022. Photo: Ingemar Lindewall/Royal Court of Sweden

Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar dressed up and standing by a railing, a uniformed guard in the background.

Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. Photo: Linda Broström/Royal Court of Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel dressed up and standing in a green landscape.

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel photographed for their ten-year anniversary. Photo: Elisabeth Toll/Royal Court of Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria, surrounded by people, by a pile of rocks, burnt trees in the background.

Crown Princess Victoria visiting a nature reserve in Västmanland, where a great forest fire raged in 2014. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria in sporty winter clothes, skiing together with other people.

Crown Princess Victoria skiing along the Kalix River. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

Crown Princess Victoria in a football T-shirt being shown something on a woman's mobile phone. Crown Princess Victoria has been selected to this list of Swedish women.

Crown Princess Victoria on a hike through the province of Jämtland. Photo: Royal Court of Sweden

French origins

Swedish monarchs date back around a thousand years and have belonged to eleven dynasties, with the current one, the House of Bernadotte, ruling the longest.  

In 1810, King Karl XIII was left without a successor, following the death of his adopted son Prince Karl August.  

King Karl XIII – who himself had been appointed the year before following his nephew King Gustav IV Adolf’s deposal – opted to adopt Frenchman Jean Baptiste Bernadotte (1763–1844), a former general under Napoleon Bonaparte. Thus, his heir to the throne was established. 

Sweden’s power in Europe was in decline at the time, with the country having lost Finland to Russia in 1809. With his experience as military commander, Bernadotte was deemed a valid successor. Also, as a marshal under Napoleon, Bernadotte had actively advised against an invasion of Sweden, which made him a popular choice.  

Jean Baptiste Bernadotte became Karl XIV Johan, first as prince and later as king. He was crowned King of Sweden and Norway in 1818, following King Karl XIII’s death.