21 May 2024
Introducing: The Swedish Royal Family
Swedish Culture Tourist Information

Introducing: The Swedish Royal Family

The Royal Palace of Drottningholm (Note: Royals mentioned in the article are not in the canoe)

If you live in Sweden, chances are you’ve wondered a thing or two about its royal family. Who are they exactly? What do they do? Why is their last name French? Ask no more, the royal we of YLC present the Who’s Who of Swedish Royalty!

Let’s start off with the basics. Swedish Royals are a bunch of Bernadottes. Not to be rude, it’s just true.

johan-bernadotteSwedish monarchs have come from the house of Bernadotte since 1818. If the name sounds French, that’s because it is. King Karl XIV Johan was in fact French-born Jean Bernadotte, and he and his French wife Désirée Clary (briefly the fianceé of old Boney himself, we’ll have you know, before he jilted her for Josephine) were elected to the then-combined Swedish and Norwegian throne when several other options didn’t pan out.

Simply explained, it goes like this: the previous dynasty, died out with Karl XIII, who had no heir. The Swedish parliament then elected the prince of Denmark as heir to the Swedish throne, but he passed away the same year. As much of Europe was controlled by Napoleon Bonaparte at that time, the Riksdag then decided to elect a king of whom Napoeon would approve: so French marshall Bernadotte it was. And today the family is as Swedish as could be, whatever that means! So let’s go meet ’em!



King Carl XVI Gustaf Folke Hubertus

Or just King Carl XVI Gustaf for short. He’s the man on the stamps. The one with the thin glasses and the skinny neck, and perfectly horizontal “smile” – you’ll almost never see his teeth. This king, like many Swedish kings before him, is named Carl. He was born on April 30, 1946, and became King of Sweden at age 27, in 1973. And it would seem he doesn’t plan on quitting anytime soon. Always very popular, in recent years his popularity has been somewhat shaken by scandals when his alleged early life was “revealed” in a tell-all book. However, the Royal Court has stayed firmly in denial of the claims made in the book and most of the brou-ha-ha seems to have blown over.

Queen Silvia Renate Sommerlath

…but you can call her Silvia, after all everyone else does. Silvia is the collected, graceful German girl who met King Carl at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. She may not have been competing, but she still won quite the prize: the hand of the Swedish king four years later. Apparently, when they met something went “click”, according to the smitten King.

Silvia is the ultimate “Dancing Queen” as the hugely popular ABBA song was first performed live at a gala celebrating her imminent wedding in 1976. Despite her popularity, Silvia too has been in stormy waters recently, due to allegations about her father during WWII, but the queen went to serious trouble trying to clear her father’s name. Some Swedes do complain that she still speaks with a slight German accent after all these years, but no one can deny her poise and style, even at 70 years old!

Crown Princess Victoria Ingrid Alice Désirée

We wish we could have as many lovely princessy names as Victoria. What a shame she only uses one of them. Princess Vicky (she doesn’t actually go by that, be warned) was born in 1977, but wasn’t Crown Princess at the time. Not so long ago the crown could only go to male heirs, so despite being the oldest, Victoria was not in line. However, since 1980, Sweden has had fully cognatic succession, meaning that the first-born child of the monarch is heir to the throne, regardless of gender. Victoria is hugely popular, and has more than made up for any scandals – real or imagined – the previous generation may have been dragged into.


Prince Olaf Daniel Westling

While we’re making Cinderella references, we might want to mention Victoria’s husband – personal trainer-to-prince Daniel. They “got to know each other”, as the Royal Family’s official website states, in 2001, and announced their engagement in 2009. The wedding took place a year later with all the appropriate pomp and circumstance.


Princess Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary

We now arrive at, undeniably, the cutest royal of them all! Princess Estelle is the first child of Victoria and Daniel, and just celebrated her second birthday. Not only is she adorable, but she’s already downright diplomatic, attending tennis matches and cultural events and featuring on innumerable family postcards displayed for all of Sweden. She’s got a goofy smile just like grandpa – but whereas his is in hiding, little Estelle flashes hers daily and warms our hearts!


Prins_Carl_Philip-wikiPrince Carl Philip Edmund Bertil

Back to the king’s own kids, we have the only royal son of Sweden: Carl Philip. Born in 1979, he was the crown prince of Sweden for seven months, before the system was changed. A bit of a controversial lad, he is dating a model, he likes to ski and race Porsches, and indeed won the Porsche GT3 Endurance Scandinavia motor race in 2010. (What do you mean you haven’t heard of it?) He is also a military captain and did an internship with National Geographic. His passion is design and although that aspect of his career fell on rough times after accusations of plagiarism last year, he  recently entered the fashion business when he and colleague Oscar Kylberg released a line of outerwear for brand A-One. With those wavy locks and valiant names and posh Porsches – he is rather damn princely, wouldn’t you say?

By the way, he’s 284th in line to the English throne.


Princess Madeleine Thérèse Amelie Josephine

The king and queen’s youngest child, Madeleine was born in 1982. She resides in New York and was for a time known as the pretty, partying princess, but the girl’s got brains. She has studied art, law, and psychology, and has worked with UNICEF and the World Childhood Foundation, focusing on helping sexually exploited children. After a disastrous relationship with Swedish lawyer Jonas Bergström, ending in a broken engagement, Princess Madeleine finally found true love and married New York banker Christopher O’Neill in 2013, and in February 2014 presented Sweden with a new little princess. Which hopefully is enough to make the Swedish people forget she ended her engagement announcement with the little giggle “tihi” (“teehee”), which sparked a heated debate about Swedish female submissiveness and the state of feminism in the country.


Princess Leonore Lilian Maria

Leonore is the latest addition to the Swedish Royal Family, and while her father does not get the title of prince, Leonore is a little princess. But as she is not even a month old, we don’t have a whole lot to say about her. Yet.


So there you have it, go forth feeling more up to date on the Swedish Royals. And there is more to find out. For example, who was the Prince who renounced his title for love? Who were the little Princesses at Haga? And which Princess was seen in Vogue, was first married to an actor and later nursed wounded soldiers during WWII?


Featured Image: Royalcourt.se. All other images: Wikipedia

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