The Swedish monarchy
Beyond constitutional and ceremonial duties, Sweden’s royal family are devoted to various good causes.
The main members of the royal family are King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia and their children with families. The King and Queen have three children, the first-born being Crown Princess Victoria Ingrid Alice Désirée, Duchess of Västergötland, born on 14 July 1977. Their two other children are 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 10 June 1982.
The three children’s children and spouses are also part of the royal family, apart from Princess Madeleine’s husband, who has declined a royal title and is, as such, not an official part of the royal family.
Already before Victoria was born in 1977, there were discussions about changing the Succession Act and make it gender-neutral. The change eventually took place in 1980 but was made retroactive, which immediately changed Victoria’s title from Princess to Crown Princess.
The crown princess got her prince
On 19 June 2010 Crown Princess Victoria married Daniel Westling. The celebrations around their wedding lasted for three days, and thousands of people assembled to offer their congratulations. International press, meanwhile, spread the news around the globe.
Daniel Westling was given the title H.R.H. Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland. Eighteen months later they had their first child, a baby princess. Second in line to the Swedish throne, Princess Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary was born on 23 February 2012. Princess Estelle’s brother, Prince Oscar Carl Olof was born on 2 Mars 2016. He is third in line to the Swedish throne.
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.
On 20 February 2014, Victoria’s younger sister Madeleine gave birth to Princess Leonore Lilian Maria. The father is British–American businessman Christopher O’Neill. Their second child, Prince Nicolas Paul Gustaf, was born on 15 June 2015 and their third, Princess Adrienne Josephine Alice, on 9 March 2018.
The couple were married on 8 June 2013 at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, and celebrations were held afterwards at the family home at the Palace of Drottningholm.
To retain her H.R.H. title, Princess Madeleine has not taken the O’Neill surname. Unlike Prince Daniel, O’Neill 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.
Prince Carl Philip
Prince Carl Philip, the second oldest of the three siblings, is fourth in line of succession to the Swedish throne after Crown Princess Victoria, her daughter Princess Estelle and her son Prince Oscar. On 13 June 2015 he got married to Sofia Hellqvist, now H.R.H. Princess Sofia. She is is one of the founders of and actively involved in the non-profit organisation Project Playground. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Princess Sofia has volunteered at Sophiahemmet hospital.
The two have lived together since 2011. On 19 April 2016 Princess Sofia gave birth to their first child, Prince Alexander Erik Hubertus Bertil. The couple had their second child, Prince Gabriel Carl Walther on 31 August 2017. Their third child, Prince Julian Herbert Folke, was born on 26 March 2021.
King Carl XVI Gustaf
It was not a coincidence that Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel chose to get married on 19 June. On that date in 1976, Sweden’s current King Carl XVI Gustaf married Queen Silvia.
King Carl XVI Gustaf is the seventh monarch of the House of Bernadotte. He was born on 30 April 1946 as the fifth child and only son of Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla. Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf died in an air crash in Denmark the following year.
In 1950, 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.
After serving as monarch for 23 years, Gustaf Adolf passed away in 1973. That same year, at the age of 27, the Crown Prince became King Carl XVI Gustaf. His motto is ‘For Sweden – with the times.’
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 without either royal or noble origins, Silvia is the first Swedish queen to have had a professional career.
She married King Carl Gustaf 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.
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.
As head of state, the King is Sweden’s foremost unifying symbol. According to the 1974 constitution, the monarch has no political affinity and no formal powers. The King’s duties are mainly of a ceremonial and representative nature.
King Carl XVI Gustaf has a strong commitment to the global 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.
Some 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.
King Carl XVI Gustaf usually makes two or three state visits abroad each year. He also 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.
The royal family receives thousands of invitations each year. Once a week, the King holds a planning meeting with the Queen, the Crown Princess and their closest staff members to discuss which invitations to accept.
When the King is prevented from performing his duties as head of state, for example during a trip abroad, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip or Princess Madeleine, in that order, assume the duties of temporary regent.
A modern move
In 2019, King Carl Gustaf relieved the children of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia, as well as the children of Princess Madeleine's and Christopher O’Neill, from duties incumbent on the head of state.
With the change, the King wanted to signal that in the future, his grandchildren – with the exception of Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar – will not be expected to perform royal duties.
Crown Princess Victoria – Sweden’s future queen
Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, their daughter Estelle and their son Oscar live in Haga Palace outside Stockholm, the birthplace and early home of King Carl XVI Gustaf.
When she succeeds her father, Crown Princess Victoria will become Sweden’s 70th monarch, the fourth female monarch in the history of the Kingdom of Sweden, and the first since 1720.
The heir to the throne should be raised so as to represent Sweden in an appropriate and constitutionally correct way. This is in part to maintain the popular support of the Swedish people, a key to be effective.
A full agenda
Crown Princess Victoria attends the Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs and the information councils with government ministers, and steps in as a temporary regent when needed.
The Crown Princess is in contact with other European heirs to the throne. She has had especially close ties with her Nordic counterparts, the heirs to the thrones of Denmark and Norway.
Her agenda also includes attending official dinners, openings and visits from foreign dignitaries.
She speaks English, French and German and is in great demand as an ambassador for Swedish ventures in culture, art and design – which are also personal interests.
Fund for children
The Crown Princess Victoria Fund was set up in 1997 to help provide recreational activities for children with functional disabilities or chronic illnesses. Approved grants cover expenses for recreational trips
A committed crown princess
From 2016 to 2018 Crown Princess Victoria 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).
Issues surrounding crisis and conflict management, including international peace-building, are also of particular interest to Victoria.
Advocates of physical activity
Both Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel are advocates of physical activity. In 2017, in connection with her 40 birthday, the Crown Princess initiated a project to walk through all 25 provinces of Sweden, while promoting the importance of outdoor activities and movement. She completed the project with walk number 25 in Fulufjället National Park, Dalarna, in 2019.
The Swedish Crown Princess Couple’s Foundation combats social isolation and promotes good health among children and youths in Sweden. Established by Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel to mark the occasion of their marriage, the foundation provides grants to organisations working with these issues, but also runs projects of its own within the field.
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.
Victoria began her formal education at local public schools, switching to a private school when she began her secondary school studies. She graduated in 1996.
The Crown Princess’ studies at universities and other academic institutions constitute an important part of her education – but as heir to the throne she must also continuously maintain a breadth of knowledge on various issues.
After graduating from upper secondary school, the Crown Princess studied French for foreign students at the Université Catholique de l’Ouest in Angers, France.
In 1998, she enrolled at Yale University in the US 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.
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. 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 Defence College (Försvarshögskolan) in Stockholm. In 2009, she earned her Bachelor’s degree at Uppsala University, majoring in peace and conflict studies.