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A (Very) Short History of the Kings of Sweden Posted by on Mar 26, 2010 in Culture

For over 1000 years, Sweden has been considered a monarchy of some sort. This has included periods of foreign rule, periods of dual rule, even periods of female rule at a time when women did not usually ascend to the throne.

Today, Sweden retains its status as a monarchy, albeit a constitutional monarchy.  Essentially this means that the royal family is only for show.  Governmental power lies with the Riksdag, Sweden’s parliament.  But Sweden’s royal family, the Bernadottes, live on.

The original Bernadotte was a French general in Napoleons army before becoming King of Sweden due to a series of events including a coup d’état and a later death of a childless king.  Since 1818 the Bernadottes have presided over Sweden.  All men.  In 1980, the Act of Succession (Successionsordning) was changed and equal primogeniture was introduced meaning that women could inherit the throne.  When the current king dies or abdicates the throne, Crown Princess Victoria will become the Queen of Sweden and only the fourth woman to be head of state.

The discussion of whether Sweden, a country that prides itself on democracy and lives under the shadow of Jantelagen, should have a monarchy regardless of its power is an ongoing one.  Especially recently, due to the upcoming wedding of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.

On June 19th, 2010, Victoria will have her wedding in Storkyrkan, just a stone’s throw away from the castle.  This has led to increased media coverage of the royal family and, in turn, an increased discussion about the merits of royalty in today’s society.  Much of the discussion focuses on the tax burden that Swedes carry to support the monarchy as well as the incompatibility of an inherited position as head of state with democratic ideals.

Despite the discussion though, it seems that the monarchy will most likely be around for a while.  In a 2009 survey by DN/Synovate 74% of the Swedish population supported keeping the monarchy.

And in case you were wondering, here is a list of the Swedish kings who descend from the Bernadotte line up until the current King of Sweden, King Carl XVI Gustaf:

Karl XIV Johan: 1818 – 1844
Oskar I: 1844 – 1859
Karl XV: 1859 – 1872
Oskar II: 1872 – 1907
Gustaf V: 1907 – 1950
Gustaf VI Adolf: 1950 – 1973
Carl XVI Gustaf: 1973 – Present

For a full list of Sweden’s kings through the ages, as well as their years of rule, check out the Royal Court’s website in English and Swedish.

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About the Author: Marcus Cederström

Marcus Cederström has been writing for the Transparent Swedish Blog since 2009. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Oregon, a Master's Degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a PhD in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has taught Swedish for several years and still spells things wrong. So, if you see something, say something.