Carl XVI Gustaf

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Carl XVI Gustaf
King of Sweden
Reign15 September 1973 – present
Enthronement19 September 1973
PredecessorGustaf VI Adolf
Heir apparentVictoria
Prime ministers
Born (1946-04-30) 30 April 1946 (age 76)
Silvia Sommerlath
(m. 1976)
  • Crown Princess Victoria
  • Prince Carl Philip
  • Princess Madeleine
Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus
Carl XVI Gustaf's signature

Carl XVI Gustaf (Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus; born 30 April 1946) is

King of Sweden. He ascended the throne on the death of his grandfather, Gustaf VI Adolf
, on 15 September 1973.

He is the youngest child and only son of

King Gustaf V, in 1950, Gustaf Adolf ascended the throne and thus Carl Gustaf became Sweden's new crown prince and heir apparent
to the throne at the age of four.

Shortly after he became king in September 1973, the new 1974 Instrument of Government took effect, formally stripping Carl XVI Gustaf of his remaining executive power. As a result, he no longer performs many of the duties normally accorded to a head of state, such as the formal appointment of the prime minister, signing off on legislation, and being commander-in-chief of the nation's military. The new instrument explicitly limited the king to ceremonial functions and, among other things, to be regularly informed of affairs of state. As head of the House of Bernadotte, Carl Gustaf has also been able to make a number of decisions about the titles and positions of its members.

The King's

Prince Carl Philip, was briefly the heir apparent, as of his birth in May 1979. Carl XVI Gustaf is the longest-reigning monarch in Swedish history, having surpassed King Magnus IV's reign of 44 years and 222 days on 26 April 2018.[2]

Early life

Carl Gustaf was born on 30 April 1946 at 10:20[3] 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.[4]

He was baptised in


Prince Carl Gustaf was also given the title of the Duke of

Gustaf V died in 1950, the four-year-old prince became the heir apparent of Sweden.[7]

Carl Gustaf was seven years old before he was told about his father's death. He expressed his feelings about growing up without knowing his father in a speech in 2005.[8]

Youth and education

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

His earliest education was received privately at the

mine-laying vessel Älvsnabben. The Crown Prince received his commission as an officer in all three services in 1968, eventually rising to the rank of captain (in the army and air force) and lieutenant (in the navy), before his ascension to the throne. He also completed his academic studies in history, sociology, political science, tax law, and economics at Uppsala University and later economics at Stockholm University.[9]

To prepare for his role as the

Carl Gustaf has dyslexia, as do his daughter Crown Princess Victoria and his son Prince Carl Philip.[11][12]


On 15 September 1973, Carl Gustaf became King of Sweden upon the death of his grandfather, Gustaf VI Adolf. On 19 September, he took the required regal assurance (Swedish: Konungaförsäkran) during an extraordinary meeting of the cabinet. Afterwards, he appeared before the parliament, diplomatic corps, court, etc. in the Hall of State at the Royal Palace where he gave a speech. Both the cabinet meeting and ceremony at the Hall were broadcast live on television. Following the ceremonies, he appeared on the balcony to acknowledge gathered crowds. At the cabinet meeting, the King declared that his regnal name would be Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden. He adopted "For Sweden – With the times" as his personal motto[13] (För Sverige – i tiden).[14][15]

When Carl Gustaf ascended the throne, plans were already in place to replace the

1809 Instrument of Government
, which made the King de jure chief executive. Though the King was a near-autocrat on paper, the Riksdag's authority grew steadily into the early 20th century, culminating in the definitive establishment of parliamentary government in 1917.

The new

1974 Instrument of Government first took effect on 1 January 1975 and formally stripped the new King of his remaining formal political powers, though these powers had effectively died with Carl Gustaf's great-grandfather, Gustaf V, in 1950. The new document made the King's role almost entirely ceremonial and representative in nature, while codifying a number of practices and conventions dating from 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, a prospective prime minister is nominated by the Speaker of the Riksdag, and if that candidate is elected by the Riksdag, the Speaker signs the commission (Swedish: förordnande). Additionally, bills passed by the Riksdag do not need royal assent
to become law.

He is the foremost representative of Sweden and pays

Letters of Credence of foreign ambassadors to Sweden and signs those of Sweden to foreign nations. As a figurehead, he also voluntarily abstains from voting in Swedish elections.[16]

King Carl Gustaf holds the highest ranks in the three branches of the

Instrument of Government of 1974, which became effective on 1 January 1975, the King no longer holds this constitutionally-mandated position, but he kept his ranks à la suite since he no longer has any military command authority, except over His Majesty's Military Staff

President George W. Bush and Laura Bush welcome King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden to the White House
President George W. Bush and Laura Bush welcome King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden to the White House

Worldwide, Carl XVI Gustaf is probably best known as the presenter of the

Nobel laureate who received the prize from his hands was Leo Esaki.[17] He also hands over the Polar Music Prize. The King holds honorary doctoral degrees from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, the Stockholm School of Economics and from the Åbo Akademi University
in Finland.

The King's Golden Jubilee will be celebrated in 2023.

Personal interests and views

The king is passionate about the environment, technology, agriculture, trade, and industry. Like many members of the Swedish royal family, he has a keen interest in automobiles. He owns several

Volvo PV444, a Ferrari 456M GT, an AC Cobra and other cars.[18] 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.[19] The king and queen of Sweden frequently travel to the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, including in 2014, 2016 and 2018.[20][21]

In December 2020, the king said Sweden's approach to dealing with COVID-19 had failed. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said that "the fact that so many have died can't be considered as anything other than a failure".[22]


The King is the honorary chairman of 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.[24]

Use of remaining power

A new Swedish double duchy was created for Princess Madeleine (left) in 1982, whereas her husband in 2013 declined to become a Swedish citizen, prince, and duke, and is called Herr Christopher O'Neill
in Sweden

So empowered as head of the House of Bernadotte,[25] King Carl Gustaf since he was enthroned in 1973 has made a number of personal decisions regarding the titles and positions of relatives and family members, including the demotion of a sister, elevation of several commoners to royalty, rebuff of an elderly uncle's wishes and the creation of new Swedish titles and duchies.

  • 1974: his sister
    King Haakon VII of Norway for his granddaughter Ragnhild
  • 1976: his own choice, taking advantage of his constitutional prerogative as king when he married a non-royal German-Brazilian woman, saw her created Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden.
  • 1976: his paternal uncle Bertil (later that year) married the non-royal British woman who had lived with Bertil for decades, and (with Bertil's titles) Carl Gustaf created her a Royal Highness Princess of Sweden and Duchess of Halland.
  • 1977: his daughter Victoria was born, and in 1980, Carl Gustaf created her Duchess of Västergötland (which has had duchesses before).
  • 1979: his son Carl Philip was born, and Carl Gustaf created him Duke of Värmland (which has had dukes before).
  • 1982: his daughter Madeleine was born, and Carl Gustaf created a new duchy for her as Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland.
  • 1983: his paternal uncle Sigvard, since 1934 no longer Prince of Sweden because of a non-royal marriage to a German woman, supported by legal experts[26] announced his own title as Prince Sigvard Bernadotte, 18 years later clearly citing a great-uncle Prince Oscar Bernadotte's title as his main precedent;[27] however, Sigvard died in 2002 with Carl Gustaf never having responded to his uncle's statement, and with the Royal Court of Sweden consistently refusing to honor it.
  • 2003: his paternal grandfather's first cousin Carl died, and Carl Gustaf formally recognized his Belgian title by allowing Prince Carl Bernadotte on the gravestone at the Royal Cemetery which is owned by the king; in 2014 he did the same there, allowing Carl's widow's name as Princess Kristine Bernadotte when she died.
  • 2010: his daughter Victoria married a non-royal Swede whom Carl Gustaf created a Royal Highness Prince of Sweden and (with her title) Duke of Västergötland.
  • 2012: his granddaughter Estelle was born and created Duchess of Östergötland (which has had duchesses before).
  • 2013: his daughter Madeleine married a non-royal British American who declined Swedish citizenship, and Carl Gustaf gave him the special courtesy title of Herr (with a capital h).
  • 2014: his granddaughter Leonore was born and created Duchess of Gotland (which also previously has been a duchy).
  • 2015: his son Carl Philip married a non-royal Swede whom Carl Gustaf created a Royal Highness Princess of Sweden and (with the son's title) Duchess of Värmland.
  • 2015: his grandson Nicolas was born, and Carl Gustaf created a new duchy for him as Duke of Ångermanland.
  • 2016: his grandson Oscar was born and created Duke of Scania (which has had dukes before).
  • 2016: his grandson Alexander was born (later that year) and created Duke of Södermanland (which has had dukes before).
  • 2017: his grandson Gabriel was born and created Duke of Dalarna (which has had dukes before).
  • 2018: his granddaughter Adrienne was born, and Carl Gustaf created a new duchy for her as Duchess of Blekinge.
  • 2019: Carl Gustaf issued a statement rescinding the
    royal status of his grandchildren Leonore, Nicolas, Alexander, Gabriel and Adrienne in an effort to more strictly associate Swedish royalty to the office of the head of state; the five are still to be styled as princes/princesses and dukes/duchesses of their provinces, and they remain in the line of succession to the throne.[28][29][30]
  • 2021: his grandson Julian was born and created Duke of Halland (which has had dukes before) with the same standing of 2019 as his brothers.

Marriage and family

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, the ceremony performed by the Archbishop of Uppsala, Olof Sundby.[31] The wedding was preceded the previous evening by a Royal Variety Performance, at which, among other performances, the Swedish musical group ABBA gave one of the first performances of "Dancing Queen", as a tribute to Sweden's future queen.[32] 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 Gustaf and Queen Silvia have three children and eight grandchildren:

Prince Carl Philip was born the

absolute primogeniture, which Sweden was the first recognised monarchy to adopt.[33] 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.[34]


In February 2023, Carl Gustaf underwent "a surgical intervention with catheter technology in the heart area."[35]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Gustaf VI Adolf was the last king to use the style "

Gustav I in 1523.[36] Carl XVI Gustaf instead chose the simpler "King of Sweden" (Sveriges Konung), thereby ending a centuries-old tradition.[37][full citation needed

Regnal name

There have not actually been sixteen kings of Sweden named Carl/Charles. The numeral stems from an erroneous genealogy that includes fictitious kings, created by 16th-century writer Johannes Magnus.[38]


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

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.

Coat of arms Kronprins Carl Gustav av Sverige.svg
Arms of Carl Gustaf as Duke of Jämtland from 1950 to his accession
Great coat of arms of Sweden.svg
Arms of Carl XVI Gustaf used since his accession to the throne.






Honorary military positions




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Explanatory footnotes


External links

Carl XVI Gustaf
Born: 30 April 1946
Swedish royalty
Preceded by
Crown Prince of Sweden

Title next held by
Carl Philip
Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of Sweden

Heir apparent: