Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden

For other Swedish royalty named Carl, see Carl of Sweden (disambiguation).
Carl XVI Gustaf

The King in 2009
King of Sweden
Reign 15 September 1973 – present
Enthronement 19 September 1973
Predecessor Gustaf VI Adolf
Heir apparent Crown Princess Victoria
Prime Ministers
Born (1946-04-30) 30 April 1946
Haga Palace, Solna, Sweden
Spouse Silvia Sommerlath (m. 1976)
Victoria, Crown Princess of Sweden
Prince Carl Philip, Duke of Värmland
Princess Madeleine, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland
Full name
Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus
House Bernadotte
Father Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten
Mother Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha
Religion Church of Sweden

Carl XVI Gustaf (full name: Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus, born 30 April 1946) is the King of Sweden. He ascended the throne upon the death of his grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf on 15 September 1973. He is the only son of Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten, and Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

The King's heir apparent, upon passage on 1 January 1980 of a new law establishing absolute primogeniture (the first such law passed in Swedish history), is Crown Princess Victoria, the eldest child of the King and his wife, Queen Silvia.

Early life

Carl Gustaf was born in Haga Palace in Solna, Stockholm County. He was the youngest of five children and the only son of Sweden's Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla. He was christened at the Royal Chapel on 7 June 1946 by the Archbishop of Uppsala, Erling Eidem. His godparents were the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Denmark (his paternal uncle and aunt), the Crown Prince of Norway, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, the King of Sweden (his patrilineal great-grandfather), the Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (his maternal uncle), the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Sweden (his paternal grandfather and stepgrandmother), and Count Folke and Countess Maria Bernadotte af Wisborg.

Prince Carl Gustaf was also given the title of the Duke of Jämtland. His father, Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten, was killed in an airplane crash on 26 January 1947, at Copenhagen Airport. 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 Gustaf V died in 1950, the four-year-old prince became the heir apparent of Sweden.

Carl Gustaf was seven years old before he was told about his father's death, and he expressed his feelings about growing up without knowing his father in a speech in 2005.

Youth and education

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

After graduating from high school, Carl Gustaf 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 (in the army and air force) and lieutenant (in the navy), before he ascended to the throne. He has also completed his academic studies in history, sociology, political science, tax law, and economics at Uppsala University and Stockholm University.

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 organizations and institutions, trade unions, and employers' associations. In addition, he closely studied the affairs of the Riksdag, 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, at the Swedish Embassy in London, at the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in France, and at the Alfa Laval Company factory in France.


On 15 September 1973, Carl Gustaf became King of Sweden upon the death of his grandfather, Gustaf VI Adolf. He was enthroned at the Hall of State of the Royal Palace of Stockholm on 19 September 1973 where he gave a speech. He adopted, "For Sweden – With the times" as his personal motto.[1] (För Sverige – i tiden).[2]

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

When Carl Gustaf ascended the throne, plans were already in place to replace the 1809 Instrument of Government which gave the King extensive involvement with government. Though the King was a near-autocrat on paper, the Riksdag's authority grew steadily into the early 20th century. In 1914, Gustaf V made a speech which resulted in what is known as the Courtyard Crisis wherein he was accused of interfering with politics. With the principle of parliamentary democracy formally established since 1917, the king's actual involvement in government lessened and the powers assigned to him were increasingly done by ministers in his name.

The new 1974 Instrument of Government first took effect in Carl Gustaf's reign and formally stripped the new king of his remaining powers such as appointing the prime minister and his position as commander-in-chief of the military. He is thus second only to the Emperor of Japan in his lack of even nominal constitutional authority. The King's duties are, according to the new constitution, only of a representative and ceremonial nature. The 1974 document stripped the King of most of his formal political powers while retaining him as head of state, thus codifying actual practices dating from the definitive establishment of parliamentary government in 1917. Previously, the King formally appointed the Prime Minister, though in practice he was almost always the leader of the majority party or coalition in the Riksdag. Since the adoption of the current Instrument, that prerogative is now exercised by the Speaker of the Riksdag on the behalf of the Riksdag. Additionally, bills passed by the Riksdag do not need his signature to become law.

He is the foremost representative of Sweden and pays State Visits abroad and receives those to Sweden, he opens the annual session of the Riksdag, chairs the Special Council held during a change of Government, holds regular Information Councils with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, chairs the meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council, and receives Letters of Credence of foreign ambassadors to Sweden and signs those of Sweden to foreign nations. As this type of figurehead, he also voluntarily abstains from voting in Swedish elections.[3]

King Carl Gustaf 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 of Sweden (§ 14) and therefore he was promoted ex officio from his earlier ranks of captain and lieutenant, to general and admiral. Under the provisions of the Instrument of Government of 1974, which became effective on 1 January 1975, King Carl Gustav no longer holds this constitutionally-mandated position of commander-in-chief, but he kept his ranks à la suite since he no longer has any military command authority, except over his military staff at his 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, the Royal Institute of Technology, the Stockholm School of Economics and from the Åbo Akademi University in Finland.

Personal interests

Royal Monogram

The King is passionate about the environment, technology, agriculture, trade, and industry. Like many members of the Swedish 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.[4] 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.[5]


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.[6] He also attended the 1981 National Scout Jamboree in Virginia, United States, 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. He also attended the 22nd World Scout Jamboree. He gave a speech on 6 August 2011 at the closing ceremony with more than 40,000 people watching. The band Europe also performed for him singing "The Final Countdown". King Carl Gustaf made an appearance at the 2013 Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree in West Virginia.[7] Together with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, King Carl Gustaf has supported the Messengers of Peace programme.

Marriage and family

King Carl XVI Gustaf with Queen Silvia at the royal wedding of Princess Victoria of Sweden.

The King married Silvia Sommerlath, whose father was German and whose mother was 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 on 19 June 1976, at Stockholm Cathedral, 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 the Swedish musical group ABBA performed "Dancing Queen" for the very first time, as a tribute to Sweden's future queen.[8][9] The King and his family moved to Drottningholm Palace west of Stockholm in 1980. He and the Queen have maintained their business offices at the Royal Palace of Stockholm.

King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia have three children and five grandchildren:

Prince Carl Philip was born the heir apparent. However, a constitutional reform, which was already under way at the time of his birth, made his elder sister, Victoria, the heir apparent and Crown Princess of Sweden on 1 January 1980, according to the principles of absolute primogeniture, which Sweden was the first recognised monarchy to adopt.[10] King Carl Gustaf objected after the reform, not to the succession by females but to the fact that his son lost the position and title which he had had since birth.[11]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Title and styles

The Regal Assurance taken by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf on 19 September 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 26 September 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 6 June 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."

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" (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" (Sveriges Konung), thereby ending a centuries-old tradition.[12]

Regnal name

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 to 1611) adopted an ordinal unsupported by reliable historical sources. The only two previous monarchs named Charles (Karl in Swedish) have traditionally been numbered by counting backwards from Charles IX, and subsequent monarchs by counting forward from him. Adhering to that tradition, the current King of Sweden proclaimed himself Carl XVI Gustaf even though he is only the tenth Swedish monarch by the first name.[13]


On his creation as Duke of Jämtland, Carl XVI Gustaf was granted an achievement of arms which featured the arms of Jämtland in base (these arms can be seen on his stallplate as knight of the Danish Order of the Elephant at Frederiksborg Palace). Since his accession to the throne, he has used the greater coat of arms of Sweden although he is still associated with the ducal title of Jämtland.

Arms of Carl Gustaf as Duke of Jämtland from 1950 to his accession
Arms of Carl XVI Gustaf used since his accession to the throne.


National honours

Foreign honours



Honorary military positions



See also

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External links

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Carl XVI Gustaf
Born: 30 April 1946
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Gustaf VI Adolf
King of Sweden
Heir apparent:
Swedish royalty
Preceded by
Gustaf Adolf
Crown Prince of Sweden
Title next held by
Carl Philip
Title last held by
Prince Oscar
Duke of Jämtland
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