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70 years since King Carl Gustaf tragically lost his father

Yesterday, it was 70 years ago that King Carl Gustaf of Sweden lost his father in a tragic accident. The tragic accident happened when the King was only nine months old.

His father, who was Crown Prince of Sweden and heir to the Swedish throne, died in a plane crash on 26 January 1947. The accident happened at Kastrup Airport outside Copenhagen in Denmark. Crown Prince Gustav Adolf was travelling from Amsterdam back to Stockholm, and his plane landed in Copenhagen to allow more passengers on. When the plane landed, the aircraft`s rudder was locked. The lock on the rudder was never taken off, and this was not discovered by the pilot until after he had taken off. Therefore, it was impossible to control the plane and the plane fell from the sky just seconds after it had eased. All 22 people aboard the plane were killed.

The scene of the crash. Photo: Unknown via Wikimedia Commons.

King Carl Gustav was then left without a father. So was his sister`s, Princesses Margaretha, Désirée, Birgitta and Christina. The King’s mother, Princess Sibylla, became a widow. King Carl Gustav was so young that he obviously did not understand what had happened. In an interview with Swedish press, 18 years after Crown Prince Gustav Adolf died, Princess Sibylla spoke about her grief. The princess said: “It felt like the floor collapsed beneath my feet”.

King Carl Gustav was then Crown Prince of Sweden at the age of nine months. He took the throne in 1973 when his grandfather died.

The funeral of Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf. Photo: Scanpix via Wikimedia Commons.

King Carl Gustav refused to talk about his father’s death. One can imagine it must have been very difficult for the king to grow up without a father.

In 2004 it was the first time the King talked about how it was to lose his dad. He gave a speech after the tsunami in East Asia in 2014. The King said: “Many children have lost one or both of their parents. I know how this feels. I have even been such a child. My father died in a plane crash when I was very little. So I know very well what it’s like to grow up without a father.”

The King does not usually work on the day his father died, but he did this year. He met the President of Estonia, attended the Forest Day conference and was present at the inauguration of a new faculty of the Royal Music School. In the evening, the whole Swedish royal family gathered at the grave of the King’s father where they lit candles and laid down flowers.

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About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written six books on historical subjects and more than 1.500 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.