Today, Friday, September 15th, it is exactly half a century ago that Carl Gustaf became King of Sweden after the death of his grandfather Gustav Adolf. He was only 27 years old at the time and it was “very hard” to suddenly be the center of attention, the king said in an interview in 2013. In fact, the now 77-year-old needed some time to find his way around the royal realm. This was also because he had to grow up without a father because he died in a plane crash in Copenhagen in 1947. Carl Gustaf was just under nine months old at the time – and suddenly right behind his grandfather in the line of succession to the throne.
Clumsy and unhappy
When he died in 1973, Carl Gustaf inherited the throne at a time when Sweden’s monarchy was in deep crisis. As a result of a constitutional reform, the king lost almost all political co-determination rights and voices became louder that there was no longer any need for a monarch. Carl Gustaf was also struggling with his position during this time. He was unmarried, seemed awkward and not particularly happy.
An encounter during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich would change all that. There he met a woman whose charm not only thrilled the king, but from then on also the Swedish people: Silvia Sommerlath from Heidelberg, who became Queen Silvia at her wedding in 1976.
“Thanks to her, the royal family has developed into a real family monarchy,” says royal expert Julia Melchior – with Carl Gustaf at the helm, with Silvia (79) at his side and the children Crown Princess Victoria (46), Prince Carl Philip (44 ) and Princess Madeleine (41). This family idyll is completed by eight grandchildren. The family also survived a scandal surrounding the king’s affair with a singer and rumored visits to the red light district by sticking together.
Carl Gustaf always remained true to his motto “For Sweden – With the times” by preserving traditions while also giving the farm more modernity. An important decision was to slim down the royal family and free the children of Carl Philip and Madeleine from royal duties.
“That was a contemporary step,” says Melchior – and true to the royal motto of keeping up with the times.
Scandal survived well
Carl Gustaf serves as a fatherly role model for his daughter Victoria. The relationship between the king and the crown princess is described as loving and warm, and if her father occasionally seems awkward, his daughter makes up for it with her smile. Victoria has long since grown into her role as heir to the throne, so Carl Gustaf can be sure that the royal family will continue to be in good hands in the future. Abdicating is out of the question for him – he has long since seen his position, which he initially disliked, as his life’s work. With his humble manner, the 77-year-old monarch has earned the respect of his compatriots over the years. “The Swedes have now really grown fond of him.”
The festival program
The celebrations for the anniversary of the throne begin today, Friday, with a service in the castle church. In the evening there will be an anniversary banquet in the castle.
On Saturday the royal couple will travel through Stockholm in a carriage. 500,000 onlookers are expected along the parade route.
This will be followed by a concert in front of the castle to which all Swedes are invited. National music stars are taking part, including the two-time ESC winner Loreen (“Euphoria”, “Tattoo”).
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