Gustaf V of Sweden

Gustaf V
King of Sweden
Reign 8 December 1907 - 29 October 1950 (&000000000000004200000042 years, &0000000000000325000000325 days)
Predecessor Oscar II
Successor Gustaf VI Adolf
Spouse Victoria of Baden
Issue
Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden
Prince Vilhelm, Duke of Södermanland
Prince Erik, Duke of Västmanland
Full name
Oscar Gustaf Adolf
Father Oscar II of Sweden
Mother Sofia of Nassau
Born 16 June 1858(1858-06-16)
Drottningholm Palace
Died 29 October 1950(1950-10-29) (aged 92)
Drottningholm Palace
Burial Riddarholmen Church
Religion Lutheran

Gustaf V (Oscar Gustaf Adolf 16 June 1858 – 29 October 1950) was King of Sweden from 1907. He was the eldest son of King Oscar II of Sweden and Sophia of Nassau, a half-sister of Adolphe, Grand Duke of Luxembourg. Reigning, by law as a near-autocrat under the 1809 Instrument of Government until his death at age 92, he holds the record of being the oldest monarch of Sweden and the second-longest reigning (after Magnus IV).

Ascending to the throne in 1907, his early reign saw the rise of parliamentary rule in Sweden, although the leadup to World War I pre-empted his overthrow of Liberal Prime Minister Karl Staaff in 1914, replacing him with his own figurehead Hjalmar Hammarskjöld (father of late Dag Hammarskjöld) for most of the war. In 1917 he accepted Staaff's successor Nils Edén to form a new government which de facto stripped the monarchy of its virtual powers and had enacted universal and equal suffrage, including for women, by 1919. Accepting the principles of parliamentary democracy, he remained a popular figurehead for the remainder 31 years of his rule, although not completely without influence - in the days of World War II he allegedly urged Per Albin Hansson's cabinet to accept calls from Nazi Germany to logistics support which, if refused, might have pre-empted an invasion, and remains controversial to date.

Early life

Gustaf V was born in Drottningholm Palace in Ekerö, Stockholm County and at birth was created Duke of Värmland. On 8 December 1907, he succeeded his father to the Swedish throne, which had been separated from the Norwegian throne two years earlier.

On 20 September 1881 he married Princess Victoria of Baden in Karlsruhe, Germany. She was the granddaughter of Princess Sophie of Sweden, and her marriage to Gustaf V united, by a real blood link (and not only so-called adoption), the reigning Bernadotte dynasty with the former royal house of Holstein-Gottorp.

Public life

Gustaf V was the last Swedish king to intervene directly in the politics of his country (in 1914 on the disputes over defence budgets). He was a conservative man, who did not approve of the democratic movement and the demands for workers' rights. Gustaf V was also the last Swedish King to be Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces (between 1907 and 1939).

Gustaf V was considered to have German sympathies during World War I. His political stance during the war was highly influenced by his wife, who felt a strong connection to her German homeland. On 18 December 1914, he sponsored a meeting with the other two Kings of Scandinavia to demonstrate unity within and between them. Another of Gustaf V's objectives with this three-King conference was to dispel suspicions that he wanted to bring Sweden into the war on Germany's side.

Nazi sympathies

Both the King and his grandson Prince Gustav Adolf socialized with certain Nazi leaders before World War II, though arguably for diplomatic purposes. Gustaf V attempted to convince Hitler during a visit to Berlin to soften his persecution of the Jews, according to historian Jörgen Weibull. He was also noted for appealing to the leader of Hungary to save its Jews "in the name of humanity." At the behest of American President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gustaf V appealed to Hitler for peace negotiations in 1938, "in the interest of peace".

When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, Gustaf V tried to write a private letter to Hitler thanking him for taking care of the "Bolshevik pest" and congratulating him on his "already achieved victories". He was stopped from doing so by the Prime Minister Hansson. Nevertheless, the King sent the message to Hitler (through a telegram by the German embassy in Stockholm) behind the back of the Government.

The 1941 Threat of Abdication

According to Prime Minister Per Hansson, the King had, during a private conversation, threatened to abdicate if the Government did not approve of the German request for permission to transfer one armed division – the Engelbrecht Division – through Swedish territory from northern Norway to northern Finland in June 1941. The accuracy of this claim is debated, and the King's stated intention (if he did in fact make this threat) was to avoid conflict with Germany.

However, confirmation of the King's action is contained in German Foreign Policy documents captured at the end of the war. On 25 June 1941, the German Minister in Stockholm sent a "Most Urgent-Top Secret" message to Berlin in which he stated that the King had just informed him that the transit of German troops would be allowed. He added:

The King's words conveyed the joyful emotion he felt. He had lived through anxious days and had gone far in giving his personal support to the matter. He added confidentially that he had found it necessary to go so far as to mention his abdication.

According to Ernst Wigforss, both Gustaf V and Prince Gustav Adolf attempted to persuade the Swedish Government to allow the Allies to transport troops through Sweden, though this was rejected by the Government because it was felt it would cause retributions from Germany.

Personal life

Swedish Royalty
House of Bernadotte
Bernadotte coa.svg
Charles XIV John
Children
   Oscar I
Oscar I
Children
   Charles XV
   Gustaf, Duke of Upland
   Oscar II
   Princess Eugenie
   August, Duke of Dalarna
Charles XV
Children
   Lovisa, Queen of Denmark
   Carl Oscar, Duke of Södermanland
Oscar II
Children
   Gustaf V
   Oscar, Duke of Gotland
   Eugén, Duke of Närke
   Carl, Duke of Västergötland
Grandchildren
   Princess Margaretha
   Märtha, Crown Princess of Norway
   Astrid, Queen of Belgium
   Carl, Duke of Östergötland
Gustaf V
Children
   Gustaf VI Adolf
   Vilhelm, Duke of Södermanland
   Erik, Duke of Västmanland
Gustaf VI Adolf
Children
   Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten
   Sigvard, Duke of Uppland
   Ingrid, Queen of Denmark
   Bertil, Duke of Halland
   Carl Johan, Duke of Dalarna
Grandchildren
   Princess Margaretha
   Princess Birgitta
   Princess Désirée
   Princess Christina
   Carl XVI Gustaf
Carl XVI Gustaf
Children
   Crown Princess Victoria
   Carl Philip, Duke of Värmland
   Madeleine, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland

Gustaf V was tall and thin. He wore pince-nez eyeglasses and sported a pointed mustache for most of his teen years.

Gustaf V was a devoted tennis player, appearing under the pseudonym Mr G. As a player and promoter of the sport, he was elected in to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1980. The King learned the sport during a visit in Britain in 1876 and founded Sweden's first tennis club on his return home. In 1936 he founded the King's Club. During his reign, Gustaf was often seen playing on the Riviera. On a visit to Berlin, Gustaf went straight from a meeting with Hitler to a tennis match with the Jewish player Daniel Prenn. During World War II, he interceded to obtain better treatment for Davis Cup stars Jean Borotra of France and Gottfried von Cramm of Germany, who had been imprisoned by the German Government.

Homosexuality

Allegations of a homosexual affair made the Court pay Kurt Haijby at least 170,000 crowns. This later led to the Haijby affair. No other evidence has ever been presented to support the allegations.

Styles and titles

Gustaf V was the 1,062nd Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Spain, the 828th Knight of the Order of the Garter in 1905 and the 216th Grand Cross of the Order of the Tower and Sword.

Death

After a reign of 43 years, King Gustaf V died in Stockholm, due to flu complications on 29 October 1950.

Image gallery


Issue

Name Birth Death Notes
King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden 11 November 1882 15 September 1973 married 1) Princess Margaret of Connaught (1882–1920), had issue (four sons, one daughter) , married 2) Lady Louise Mountbatten (1889–1965), had issue (a stillborn daughter)
Prince Vilhelm of Sweden, Duke of Södermanland 17 June 1884 5 June 1965 married Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia (1890–1958), had issue
Prince Erik of Sweden, Duke of Västmanland 20 April 1889 20 September 1918 died unmarried of the Spanish Flu, no issue

Ancestors

Gustaf V
Born: 16 June 1858 Died: 29 October 1950
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Oscar II
King of Sweden
1907-1950
Succeeded by
Gustaf VI Adolf
Swedish royalty
Preceded by
Oscar, Duke of Östergötland
Heir to the Swedish throne
1872-1907
Succeeded by
Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Skåne
later became Gustaf VI Adolf
Vacant
Title last held by
Carl Adolf
Duke of Värmland
1858-1907
Vacant
Title next held by
Carl Philip
Norwegian royalty
Preceded by
Oscar
Heir to the Norwegian throne
1872-1905
Succeeded by
Olav
Vacant
Title last held by
Carl
Viceroy of Norway
1884
Vacant

 

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