Few countries in Europe or even worldwide have been able to maintain the slightly outdated concept of a monarch as head of state. Sweden is one of them. Carl XVI Gustav is the current King of Sweden, assisted by his wife, Queen Silvia. Their powers are largely representative and non-political, but that does not keep me from wondering how the Swedes feel about the royal family, and especially: how they fit it into their continuous strive for equality.
Sweden has been a kingdom since the 1st century, even though hereditary succession was only introduced in 1544. Carl Philip, Carl Gustav`s only son, was born Crown Prince in 1979. Until 1980, the oldest son was first in line of the throne. A constitutional change then put the eldest child in front, regardless of gender. Current first in line is the oldest daughter: Crown Princess Victoria (born 1977), followed by her younger brother Carl Philip (1979) and sister Madeleine (1982). When she becomes Queen of Sweden, Victoria will put an end to centuries of male dominance in the Swedish monarchy.
Elisabet (29), Helen (28) and Sara (27):
`Gossip magazines are looking for news about the royal family, but they have a hard time finding anything`
Unlike the British royal family, the Swedish prince and princesses do not make big headlines. `Gossip magazines are looking for news, but they have a hard time finding anything`, say Elisabet (29), Helen (28) and Sara (27, all in photo). The younger princess has been partying a little recently, but that did not produce any shocking news. 'They almost behave like any other rich family would do. Victoria had some eating disorder during her adolescence, but she looks healthy again now. All three have stable relationship and the big news that is awaited is for one of them to get married.
The three girls think the monarchy is `quite OK`. They agree that is costs the tax payer some money, but a republic would not be much cheaper, and `it`s a nice tradition.` Rather than resenting the royal family for being arrogant or snobbish, they sometimes feel sorry for them standing in the world`s shopping window without interruption. Sven (24) comments on the royal personalities, calling the king `warm and decent`, the queen `rather strict` and the crown princess `a little stiff sometimes, but otherwise very friendly`.
Very few voices actually critisise the existence of the Swedish royal family. The reasons for those who do are mostly financial, but the movement it incites is marginal. The PR that the royal family does for Sweden and for charity are simply too impressive to overlook. And even though they receive a solid compensation for their jobs, even they need to declare and pay taxes over the gains they make on private investments. All this information is public in Sweden, so anybody who wishes to can have a detailed insight in each of the family member`s gains and expenses.
But what do these royal people actually do during the day? Patrick (39) and Ulrik (38) tell me that they are travelling a lot to support non-political cases and human right organisations. They also lend their names to charity organisations. The Crown Princess Victoria Fund, one of them, supports recreational activities for disabled children and young people. The royal delegation also takes part in state visits, the opening of the political year, the celebration of the Swedish National Day and the annual Nobel Prize celebrations. As you may expect, all children of the king have have received abundant education and participated in study programs, internships, military training and extensive language courses.
What royals are not supposed to do is comment on political affairs. Signing laws, which for many monarchs is the only political act they may perform, has also been taken out of the package. Furthermore, King Carl Gustav was heavily reprimanded recently, when he commenting on internal affairs in Brunei during a state visit to that country. Gaffes like that fortunately don`t occur frequently. The royal family can be sure they are being watched. Their are allowed to have their little special positions as long as they behave sensibly. Jante`s Law at work again!
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