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The Swedish monarchy

In 1980, Sweden became the first monarchy to change its succession rites so that the first-born child of the monarch is heir to the throne, regardless of gender. Heir apparent to the Swedish throne is Crown Princess Victoria.

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Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

The Swedish monarchy

In 1980, Sweden became the first monarchy to change its succession rites so that the first-born child of the monarch is heir to the throne, regardless of gender. Heir apparent to the Swedish throne is Crown Princess Victoria.

Modernising the Succession Act

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, previously a gym owner and personal trainer. 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.

Princess Estelle, first-born daughter of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel and second in line to the Swedish throne. Summer 2019.

Photo: Linda Broström/kungahuset.se

More royal weddings

Princess Madeleine

Almost on the day two years later, 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 a former model and reality television contestant. 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.

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.’

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 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. Her relationship with the King is considered very equal, and she has taken strong initiatives to pursue several social issues close to her heart, in particular children’s rights.

Three generations of Swedish royalty, with partners. Summer 2017.

Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/kungahuset.se

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 is a recognised authority on environ­mental issues. Among other things, he 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.

Keeping busy

King Carl XVI Gustaf is an active monarch who 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.

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 the invitations and decide which are most important. They make sure that their appearances are spread across Sweden.

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 five of his grandchildren –Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia’s two children and Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill’s three – from duties incumbent on the head of state.

Prince Alexander, Prince Gabriel, Princess Leonore, Prince Nicolas and Princess Adrienne remain royal family members and keep their duke and duchess titles, but no longer have royal highness titles and are no longer members of the royal house. They no longer receive a share of the apanage, the royal family’s state-funded annual allowance.

Drottningholm Palace in lake Mälaren is the private residence of the Swedish King and Queen.

Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/

Crown Princess Victoria – Sweden’s future queen

When she succeeds her father, Crown Princess Victoria will become Sweden’s 70th monarch, the third 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.

Crown Princess Victoria’s agenda includes attending official dinners, openings and visits from foreign dignitaries. She also attends the Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs and the information councils with Government ministers, and steps in as a temporary regent when needed.

Victoria has by now made many official trips abroad as a representative of Sweden. Her first major official visit on her own was to Japan in 2001, where she promoted Swedish design, music, gastronomy and environmental sustainability.

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.

Issues surrounding crisis and conflict management, including international peace-building, are also of particular interest to Victoria.

During her first few months as a mother in 2012, Victoria’s calendar was completely cleared, but she has now more or less returned to her usual schedule.

Thorough education

Victoria began her formal education at local public schools, switching to a private school when she began her secondary school studies. Despite having dyslexia, she graduated in 1996 with good grades thanks to a steadfast commitment and devotion to learning.

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 social issues. Courses in individual subjects have been prioritised over a specific academic degree.

Crown Princess Victoria, visiting the Swedish Province of Värmland.

Photo: Raphael Stecksén/

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.

The Crown Princess was one of 17 ambassadors in the Sustainable Development Goals Advocacy Group during 2016-2018, As such, she promoted the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for 2030. She remains committed and still works actively with issues concerning water and health (SDG goals 6 and 14).

Last updated: 29 May 2020