Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden

Carl XVI Gustaf
King Carl XVI Gustaf at the National Day Celebration, Stockholm, Sweden 6 June 2009
King of Sweden
Reign 15 September 1973 – present
(&000000000000003700000037 years, &0000000000000295000000295 days)
Enthronement 19 September 1973
Predecessor Gustaf VI Adolf
Heir apparent Crown Princess Victoria
Consort Queen Silvia, née Sommerlath
Crown Princess Victoria
Prince Carl Philip, Duke of Värmland
Princess Madeleine, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland
Full name
Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus
House House of Bernadotte
Father Prince Gustav Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten
Mother Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Born 30 April 1946 (1946-04-30) (age 65)
Haga Palace, Sweden
Religion Lutheran (Church of Sweden)

Swedish Royal Family
Coat of Arms of Sweden Greater.svg

HM The King
HM The Queen

HRH The Duchess of Halland

HRH Princess Birgitta

Monarchical styles of
King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
Coat of Arms of Sweden Greater.svg
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sire

Carl XVI Gustaf (full name: Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus, born 30 April 1946) is the reigning King of Sweden since 15 September 1973, succeeding his grandfather King Gustaf VI Adolf because his father had predeceased him. He is the only son of the late Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten, and Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

Unlike many other European monarchs who have extensive styles, King Carl Gustaf's formal and complete style is simply His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden. The King's heir apparent, upon passage on 1 January 1980 of a new law establishing equal primogeniture (the first such law passed in European history), is Crown Princess Victoria, the eldest child of the King and his wife, Queen Silvia. He is also 203rd in the line of succession to the British and other Commonwealth thrones.

Birth and early life

Carl Gustaf was born at Haga Palace, Solna, Stockholm County. He was christened at the Royal Chapel on 7 June 1946 by the Archbishop of Uppsala, Erling Eidem. His godparents were The Crown Prince of Denmark, The Crown Princess of Denmark, The Crown Prince of Norway, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, The King of Sweden, Prince Friedrich Josias of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, The Crown Prince of Sweden, The Crown Princess of Sweden, Count Folke Bernadotte af Wisborg and Countess Maria Bernadotte af Wisborg.

He was given the title of Duke of Jämtland.

His father Gustaf Adolf was killed in an aeroplane crash on 26 January 1947, at Copenhagen Airport, Denmark.

Youth and education

Prince Carl Gustaf was born at Haga Palace in Solna, Stockholm County, Sweden, the youngest of five children and the only son of Sweden's Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla. His father's death had left the nine-month-old Prince second in line for the throne, behind his grandfather, then Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf. When his great-grandfather King Gustaf V died in 1950, the four-year-old Prince became heir apparent of Sweden.

In a speech in 2005, the King expressed some of his feelings about growing up without having known his father. His sister, Princess Birgitta, elaborated on these feelings in an interview around the same time, commenting that their mother and the strict Swedish royal court of the time did not consider the emotional needs of Prince Gustaf Adolf's children. In that era, she said, tragedy was seldom discussed with children. "Children’s questions were met with silence, children’s anxiety and fear with the same silence."

As a result, Crown Prince Carl Gustaf was seven years old before he had been told about his father's death. "It was Mother’s way of handling the situation, to handle living her life. Of course it was not good for us children. It would have been much better to be able to speak about Father’s death," continued Princess Birgitta. She said it had been difficult for the future King to come to grips with not having a father and of not having the same memories of him as his older sisters.

The 15 year old Crown Prince of Sweden looks at the recently recovered 17th century Vasa warship in 1961.

After graduating from high school, the Crown Prince completed two and a half years of education in the Royal Swedish Army, the Royal Swedish Navy, and the Royal Swedish Air Force. He received his commission as an officer in all three services in 1968, and he eventually rose to the rank of Captain (Army & Air Force) and Lieutenant (Navy), before he ascended the throne. He has also completed academic studies in history, sociology, political science, tax law, and economics at the universities of Uppsala and Stockholm.

To prepare for his role as the Head of State, Crown Prince Carl Gustaf followed a broad program of studies on the court system, social organisations and institutions, trade unions, and employers' associations. In addition, he closely studied the affairs of the Parliament of Sweden, Government, and Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Crown Prince also spent time at the Swedish Mission to the United Nations and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), worked at a bank in London, the Swedish Embassy in London, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in France, and at the Alfa Laval company factory in France.


On September 15, 1973, Carl Gustaf became King of Sweden upon the death of his grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf. He was invested as King, at the Hall of State of the Royal Palace of Stockholm on 19 September 1973. King Gustaf VI Adolf was the last who used the style By the Grace of God King of the Swedes, the Goths/Geats and the Wends (Swedish: med Guds Nåde Sveriges, Götes och Wendes Konung; Latin: Dei Gratia Suecorum, Gothorum et Vandalorum Rex). This traditional title had been in use since the establishment of the hereditary monarchy in 1544. Carl XVI Gustaf instead chose the plain and simple title King of Sweden (Swedish: Sveriges Konung), thereby ending an age-old tradition.

Such innovations are reflected in his personal motto, "For Sweden – With the times" (Swedish: "För Sverige – I tiden").

In 2005 the King made a personal and passionate speech about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which had led to the death of over 500 Swedes.

Regnal name

Royal Monogram

In the 16th century, Johannes Magnus construed a mythical line of Swedish kings, beginning with Magog, the son of Japheth, in an attempt to substantiate the antiquity of the Swedish throne. Based on that list, King Charles IX (reigned 1604–1611) adopted an exaggerated ordinal much higher than that warranted by reliable history. Consequently, previous monarchs named Charles (Karl) have traditionally been numbered by counting backwards from Charles IX, though there only were two before him. Thus the current King of Sweden was proclaimed as Carl XVI Gustaf (counted in English also as Charles XVI, though never called that) even though he is only the tenth historical Swedish king named Carl (Karl, Charles).

Official duties

The King and Queen of Sweden welcomed at the Kremlin by President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation and Mrs. Putin at the start of the King's State Visit to Russia, October 8, 2001.

The King's duties are, according to the 1974 Instrument of Government, of a representative and ceremonial nature. He pays State Visits abroad and receives those to Sweden, opens the Annual Session of the Parliament, chairs the Special Council held during a change of Government, holds regular Information Councils with the Prime Minister & the Cabinet, chairs the meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council, and receives and signs Letters of Credence of foreign ambassadors to Sweden and signs those of Sweden to foreign nations. As an important figurehead of Sweden, he voluntarily abstains from voting in general elections.

The King holds the highest ranks in the three branches of the Swedish Armed Forces; this is due to the fact that he was, as stipulated by the 1809 Instrument of Government in effect at the time of his accession to the throne in 1973, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces (§ 14) and therefore he was promoted ex officio from his previously held rank of Captain to General and Admiral; under the provisions of the 1974 Instrument of Government, which became effective on January 1, 1975, he no longer holds this constitutionally mandated position but he kept his ranks à la suite as he no longer has military command authority (except over his military staff at the court).

Worldwide, Carl XVI Gustaf is probably best known as the presenter of the Nobel Prizes each year. He also hands over the Polar Music Prize. The King holds honorary doctoral degrees from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm School of Economics and from Åbo Akademi University in Finland.

Personal interests

The King is passionate about the environment, technology, agriculture, trade, and industry.

Like many members of the Royal Family, the King has a keen interest in automobiles. He owns several Porsche 911s — a car model which is said to be a particular favourite of the King — as well as a vintage Volvo PV444, a Ferrari 456M GT, an authentic AC Cobra and other cars. The first pictures taken of him and his future wife were of them sitting in his Porsche 911. In the summer of 2005 he was involved in a traffic accident in Norrköping. The accident was described as a "fender bender", with no serious personal injuries claimed. Nevertheless, the incident caused national headlines.


The King is the Honorary Chairman of the World Scout Foundation, and often participates in Scout activities both in Sweden and abroad. He regularly visits World Scout Jamborees, for instance the 1979 Dalajamb World Jamboree International Encampment hosted by Sweden, the 2002 World Jamboree held in Sattahip, Thailand, and the 100th Anniversary of World Scouting 2007 World Jamboree held in Hylands Park, England. He also attended the 1981 National Scout Jamboree in Virginia, USA, and was awarded the Bronze Wolf, the only distinction of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, awarded by the World Scout Committee for exceptional services to world Scouting, in 1982.

Biofuels research

The King attended the Sweden-Michigan Clean Energy Summit at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan, on 26 September 2008, at the start of a two-day visit to Michigan. He also traveled to Kettering University in Flint, Michigan, for the ceremonial groundbreaking for a biogas plant that will be, when completed, similar to a biogas plant in Linköping, Sweden. On the second day of his visit he toured the test tracks of the Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corporation, owners of Volvo and Saab respectively.


The book Carl XVI Gustaf: den motvillige monarken (English: the reluctant monarch) by Thomas Sjöberg, published in 2010, reported that the King had a year-long affair about a decade earlier with entertainer Camilla Henemark. The affair was known to Queen Silvia, the book claimed. “The King sometimes looked like a love-crazed schoolboy and on one occasion they talked about running away together to an isolated exotic island,” the author wrote.

The King addressed the allegations during a press conference he traditionally holds at the end of his annual moose hunt. He said only: “I have seen a few of the headlines that have not been too nice. I’ve talked with my family and the Queen. We will turn the page and go on now, because as I understand, this is about things that happened a long time ago.”

The book, 'an instant bestseller in Sweden', further describes the king as "a philanderer who attended wild sex parties abroad and in underworld Stockholm clubs while the secret police kept guard."

Marriage and family

Carl XVI Gustaf with Queen Silvia

The King married Silvia Sommerlath, whose father was German and mother Brazilian and who had grown up in both countries. They met at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, where she was an interpreter and host. The wedding was held 19 June 1976 at Stockholm Cathedral in Stockholm, and the ceremony was performed by the Archbishop of Uppsala, Olof Sundby. The wedding was preceded, the evening before, by a Royal Variety Performance, where ABBA performed Dancing Queen for the very first time, as a tribute to Sweden's Queen to be. The King and his family moved to Drottningholm Palace west of Stockholm in 1980. He and the Queen have maintained their business offices at Royal Palace of Stockholm.

They have three children:

Prince Carl Philip was born heir apparent. However, a constitutional reform that was already under way at the time of his birth made his older sister, Victoria, the Crown Princess and heiress-apparent on 1 January 1980, according to the principles of equal primogeniture, which Sweden was the first country to adopt.


For many years, it was widely rumoured that the King had dyslexia. Journalists noted that he misspelled his name when signing his accession document, and in 1973, when visiting a copper mine in Falun, he misspelled his name as "Cal Gustf" when signing it on a rock wall. In an interview on Swedish television in 1997 the condition was admitted publicly when his wife addressed the issue. "When he was little, people did not pay attention to the problem," she said. "He didn't get the help he needed." She also noted that the couple's children have "a bit of" dyslexia themselves.

Titles, styles and honours

Title and styles

The Regal Assurance taken by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf on September 19, 1973

Administered by Mr. Lennart Geijer, Councillor of State and Head of the Ministry for Justice

Unofficial English language translation

"We, Carl Gustaf, King of Sweden make known: that as our Supreme God has pleased to call away the formerly mighty, high-born Prince and Lord, Gustaf VI Adolf, King of the Swedes, the Goths and the Wends, and We, according to, and by authority of, the Act of Succession, as established and enacted by the Estates of the Realm on September 26, 1810, following the illustrious Lord, have ascended to the Royal Swedish Throne.

Therefore We assure most solemnly and loudly, that We intend to and shall Govern the Realm in accordance with the on June 6, 1809 by the King and the Estates of the Realm, jointly enacted and for observance issued Instrument of Government, literal direction abide, and to the other Fundamental Laws of the Realm, public laws and legal ordinances.

We shall also, conform to the before mentioned Instrument of Government and laws, as a resolute King and a caring father for the Swedish people, throughout a legal, just and lenient Reign, seek to by Our utmost ability to advocate the veritable interests and welfare of the Realm and that of each of its inhabitants, all of which We by free will and following mature consideration have decided to do, We thus confirm this by the written signature of Our name, and by a lively oath, that this We shall adhere to and carry out, so truly help me God to life and mind."

Carl XVI Gustaf's current title is King of Sweden with the style His Majesty. He is usually in contemporary Swedish language use and society referred to as simply "the King" (Swedish: Kungen). In formal events and matters of protocol, he is however referred to as "Your Majesty" (Swedish: Ers Majestät) or "His Majesty the King" (Swedish: Hans Majestät Konungen).

In addition he also holds the personal title of Duke of Jämtland although this title is no longer used after his accession.

Swedish appointments and honours

Foreign honours

Honorary military positions


Kinship with European counterparts

The King is related to all current European reigning monarchs (at least through John William Friso, Prince of Orange, the most recent common ancestor of today's reigning European royal houses):

Monarch closest degree of kinship closest common ancestors
Denmark Queen Margrethe II of Denmark first cousin King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden
and Princess Margaret of Connaught
Belgium King Albert II of Belgium second cousin once removed King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway
and Princess Sophia of Nassau
Norway King Harald V of Norway second cousin once removed King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway
and Princess Sophia of Nassau
United Kingdom Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom third cousin (twice) Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom
and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Spain King Juan Carlos I of Spain third cousin (twice) Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom
and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Netherlands Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands third cousin George Victor, Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont
and Princess Helena of Nassau
Luxembourg Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg third cousin King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway
and Princess Sophia of Nassau
Liechtenstein Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein sixth cousin Prince Karl Ludwig of Hohenlohe-Langenburg
and Countess Amalie of Solms-Baruth
Monaco Prince Albert II of Monaco seventh cousin Charles Louis, Hereditary Prince of Baden
and Landgravine Amalie of Hesse-Darmstadt


Patrilineal descent

Matrilineal descent

Carl XVI Gustaf
Born: 30 April 1946
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Gustaf VI Adolf
Monarch of Sweden
1973 – present
Swedish royalty
Preceded by
Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Skåne
Heir to the Swedish throne
Succeeded by
Bertil, Duke of Halland
as heir presumptive
Preceded by
Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Skåne
Crown Prince of Sweden
Title next held by
Carl Philip,
Duke of Värmland
British royalty
Preceded by
Alexis Broschek
Line of succession to the British throne Succeeded by
Carl Philip

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