– Carl XVI Gustaf
King of Sweden
When Carl Gustaf was only nine months old, his father was killed in a plane crash at Copenhagen Airport and the baby prince was suddenly second in line to the throne after his grandfather, Gustaf Adolf. When his grandfather succeeded to the throne on 29 October 1950, Carl Gustaf was still only four years old when he became heir apparent which sparked a succession crisis as Gustaf Adolf’s surviving sons had lost their place in the line of succession after marrying commoners which was still forbidden in Sweden. Gustaf Adolf’s only eligible son, Bertil, had also fallen in love with a commoner but he sacrificed his personal happiness for the sake of the succession and he mentored young Carl Gustaf. It was a sacrifice Carl Gustaf would never forget and once he became king, he changed the laws so Bertil was finally able to marry his longterm sweetheart.
On 15 September 1973, Carl Gustaf became King of Sweden upon the death of his grandfather, however the 1974 Instrument of Government stripped him of most of his formal political powers and his role was reduced to a mostly representative and ceremonial role. Carl Gustaf is still the foremost representative though, taking part in state visits and opening the annual session of the Riksdag.
Carl Gustaf married Silvia Sommerlath on 19 June 1976 at Stockholm Cathedral after a four year romance which had to be kept secret while his grandfather was alive. Since Silvia was neither Swedish nor royal, any marriage would have been prohibited by law so Carl Gustaf and Silvia had to wait until the laws could be changed. Silvia gave birth to their first child, Victoria, on 14 July 1977 and she became the Crown Princess two years later when the government changed the laws to allow absolute primogeniture where the eldest child inherits regardless of gender. Carl Gustaf was not pleased with the decision as his son, Carl Philip, who had been born on 13 May 1979, was now denied his position as heir apparent. Carl Gustaf and Silvia’s last child, Madeleine, was born on 10 June 1982.
Over the past few years, the Swedish monarchy has grown in popularity with the weddings of the king’s three children and the births of eight grandchildren. Crown Princess Victoria married Daniel Westling in 2010 and their daughter, Estelle, born in February 2012, made Swedish history by becoming the first female to be born with a right to inherit the crown as well as the first to be born of a female heir apparent. Estelle was joined by her younger brother, Oscar, Duke of Skane, on 2 March 2016.
On 8 June 2013, the youngest daughter, Madeleine, married British-born American financier Christopher O’Neill and they have three children: Leonore, Duchess of Gotland, born on 20 February 2014; Nicolas, Duke of Angermanland, born on 15 June 2015; and, Adrienne, Duchess of Blekinge, born on 9 March 2018. Although Christopher O’Neill does not have a royal title, Madeleine has retained her rank and her children are in the line of succession.
The last of the royal children to marry was Carl Philip who married Sofia Hellqvist on 13 June 2015 in Stockholm’s Royal Palace chapel after much controversy due to the bride’s previous career as a glamour model. The couple have three children: Alexander, Duke of Södermanland, born on 19 April 2016; Gabriel, Duke of Dalarna, born on 31 August 2017, and Julian, Duke of Halland, born on 26 March 2021.
On 26 April 2018, Carl Gustaf became the longest-reigning monarch in Swedish history, having surpassed Magnus IV’s reign of 44 years and 222 days. When his daughter succeeds, she will be the fourth queen regnant in Swedish history and the first to carry the name Victoria unless she chooses to use another name. In 2019, Carl Gustaf announced he was rescinding the royal status of all grandchildren, excluding those born to the Crown Princess, however they will retain their royal titles and their place in the line of succession.
Carl XVI Gustaf is a great-great grandson of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert as his mother, Sibylla, was the granddaughter of Leopold, Duke of Albany, their youngest son. However, he is also a great-great grandson on his father’s side as Gustaf Adolf was the grandson of Arthur, Duke of Connaught, their third son.