SUPPORT OUR JOURNALISM: Please consider donating to keep our website running and free for all - thank you!


75 facts about Queen Silvia of Sweden on her 75th birthday

As Queen Silvia of Sweden celebrates her 75th birthday today, we have compiled a list of facts about Sweden’s Queen.

  1. Silvia was born as Silvia Renate Sommerlath in 1943 in Heidelberg, Germany.
  2. She is half German (through her father) and half Brazilian (through her mother).
  3. She has two older brothers, Ralf and Walther Sommerlath.
  4. Her brother, Jörg died in 2006 after a battle with cancer.
  5. Silvia moved to Brazil in 1947 where she lived with her family for ten years.
  6. In Brazil, she attended Colégio Visconde de Porto Seguro – a bilingual school in German and Portuguese.
  7. She graduated from Luisenschule in Düsseldorf in 1963.
  8. The family returned to West Germany in 1957.
  9. She once had a monkey.
  10. Her father was a member of the Nazi Party in Germany, but this did not come to light for decades.
  11. The Queen did not know her father had been a member of the Nazi Party and said it was “a big shock” when she found out.
  12. She has said that the media’s handling of her father’s Nazi links a “character assassination.”
  13. The Queen speaks several languages (German, English, Portuguese, Swedish, Spanish, and French) and has solid knowledge of Swedish sign language.
  14. She stands at 5′ 7″.
  15. Her Majesty is right-handed.
  16. Queen Silvia has said she speaks Portuguese with her family when they are feeling happy.
  17. Silvia studied at the Munich School of Interpreting, majoring in Spanish, from 1965 to 1969.
  18. She worked at the Argentinian Consulate in Munich.
  19. Art history is a subject she wishes she had time to study.
  20. She met King Carl XVI Gustaf (then Crown Prince Carl Gustaf) at the 1972 Munich Summer Olympic Games where she was working as a translator and hostess.
  21. She was known to sneak around Sweden in a blonde wig to go undetected by the press.
  22. By 1974, Silvia had moved to Sweden and was living in a Stockholm flat owned by the King’s older sister, Princess Christina.
  23. Silvia worked as the Deputy Head of Protocol of the Organizing Committee in 1976 for the Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
  24. She has close to a photographic memory.
  25. Carl Gustaf and Silvia announced their engagement on 12 March 1976.
  26. The King proposed with his late mother, Princess Sibylla’s engagement ring.
  27. During their engagement interview, Silvia was still learning to speak Swedish, and at one point, looks to Carl Gustaf and asks in English “Can you help me?”
  28. The King would later say they ‘just clicked’ after their initial meeting.
  29. Silvia renounced her German citizenship and surrendered her German passport two days before her wedding and became a Swedish citizen.
  30. The evening before the wedding ceremony, a Royal Variety Performance was held, where the Swedish pop group, ABBA performed their new song “Dancing Queen” as a tribute to Silvia. The group later noted that the song had not been written specifically for the new queen, but they wanted to dedicate it to her that evening.
  31. Silvia married King Carl XVI Gustaf on 19 June 1976 at Stockholm Cathedral.
  32. Her wedding gown was designed by Dior.
  33. She wore the same veil as the King’s mother, which dates back to Queen Sofia.

    HM King Carl XVI Gustaf and HM Queen Silvia. Wedding 19 June 1976, The Cathedral, Stockholm. Photo: Engelberth Bengtsson, The Royal Court, Sweden

  34. Carl Gustaf and Silvia’s eldest child, Victoria, wore the same veil and tiara as her mother on her wedding day which was exactly 34 years after her parents’ wedding.
  35. The wedding lunch was broadcast worldwide to over a million people.
  36. The couple initially lived in an apartment at the Royal Palace but later moved to Drottningholm Palace.
  37. The King and Queen have three children: Crown Princess Victoria (b. 1977), Prince Carl Philip (b. 1979), and Princess Madeleine (b. 1982).
  38. The couple also has eight grandchildren: Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar (through Crown Princess Victoria and her husband, Prince Daniel), Prince Alexander and Prince Gabriel (through Prince Carl Philip and his wife, Princess Sofia), and Princess Leonore, Prince Nicolas, and Princess Adrienne (through Princess Madeleine and her husband, Chris O’Neill).
  39. Her granddaughter, Princess Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary was named after her.
  40. About being a grandmother, Silvia has said, “Being a grandmother makes me very happy.”
  41. The Queen gave birth to Victoria in Karolinska University Hospital,  but she gave birth to Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine in makeshift delivery rooms in the Royal Palace and Drottningholm Palace, respectively.

    The Swedish Royal Family at Drottningholm Palace in 1984. Photo: Håkan Lind, The Royal Court, Sweden

  42. Her Majesty has admitted that she felt intimidated and lonely, at first, when she moved into the male-dominated royal palace, but her husband was always there to encourage her and lend support.
  43. She surprised those in the Royal Palace after her marriage when she requested a typewriter as she was used to handling her own correspondence.
  44. Silvia remarked about the cold weather when she first moved to Sweden, and the Swedish people sent her 70 scarfs – many of which were hand stitched.
  45. She told Swedish news, Expressen, “I am extremely grateful that I received a wonderful reception from the Swedish people.”
  46. About her Brazilian and German heritage influencing her role as Queen, she said, “I was born in Germany, during the Second World War, and with only two years I moved my family to Brazil. Twelve years later, in 1957, we returned to live in Germany, so these two countries marked me a lot. You can say that I have remnants of both cultures, something that has served me to know the best of both worlds. My mother was Catholic and my father, a Protestant, grew up in a home where tolerance and respect were always present.”
  47. The King remarked about her personality that she “has a personality with Brazilian hints and a very German touch.”
  48. Her daughters like to re-wear her gowns and dresses to royal functions. Crown Princess Victoria wore her mother’s 1995 Nobel gown to the 2018 Nobel ceremony.
  49. In a recent interview with Swedish Elle, she talked about Victoria sharing her clothes, “It makes me very happy! I just think it’s nice that she shares my taste, and thinks it’s beautiful and wants to use my clothes.”
  50. She does not like it when people call her daughter, Princess Madeleine “Madde”.
  51. Queen Silvia is said to be closest to her youngest child, Princess Madeleine.
  52. Her nephew, Patrick Sommerlath moved to Sweden in his teens to stay with her.
  53. The Queen has proudly had photos of her grandchildren on her cell phone case.
  54. Queen Silvia is known to be a very hands-on grandmother.

    Swedish Royal Family in the summer of 2017. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/ The Royal Court, Sweden

  55. She created the World Childhood Foundation in 1999, and the organisation supports “children who are victims of abuse and sexual exploitation, street children, children in alternative care and families at risk in more than 100 programs annually in 17 countries.”
  56. The Queen has said she hopes Princess Madeleine will take over as the head of the World Childhood Foundation.
  57. Queen Silvia also established Mentor International in 1994.
  58. Her Majesty is an honorary board member of Mentor Foundation.
  59. In honour of her 70th birthday, the Queen Silvia Foundation – Care about the children was created.
  60. She is dedicated to working with those who have dementia in memory of her mother.
  61. Silvia is the patron or holds honorary membership with 37 organisations.
  62. A pillow in her office says, “It ain’t easy being Queen!”
  63. She is the longest-serving queen consort of Sweden, surpassing Queen Sophia in 2011.
  64. The Queen shares the same interests of the King in regards to nature and the outdoors.
  65. Her Majesty also enjoys gardening.
  66. The Queen was gifted a pool for her 50th birthday.
  67. She no longer jogs to stay fit due to her age, but she swims to stay in shape.
  68. While the Queen was visiting Princess Madeleine in New York City in April 2011, photographers followed them closely. Queen Silvia ended up injured after a fall trying to leave out a side entrance of a store.
  69. The Royal Court has said, “The Queen enjoys going to the theatre, the opera and concerts.”
  70. After celebrations for her 73rd birthday, she was admitted to hospital, suffering from a bad cold. She was released on Christmas Day.
  71. Her Majesty has said she has no intention to retire and neither does her husband. “We will continue as long as we can.”

    December 2015. .The Swedish Royal Family. H.R.H Princess Madeleine; Mr Christopher O’Neill; H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria; H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf; H.M. Queen Silvia; H.R.H. Prince Daniel; H.R.H. Princess Sofia; H.R.H. Prince Carl Philip. Photo: Jonas Ekstromer /

  72. Silvia holds the following national honours: Royal Order of the Seraphim, Royal Family Decoration of King Carl XVI Gustaf First Class, 50th Birthday Badge Medal of King Carl XVI Gustaf, Wedding Medal of Crown Princess Victoria to Daniel Westling, Ruby Jubilee Badge Medal of King Carl XVI Gustaf, and 70th Birthday Badge Medal of King Carl XVI Gustaf.
  73. She holds foreign honours from Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, Brunei, Bulgaria, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holy See, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Tunisia, Thailand, and Ukraine.
  74. Queen Silvia has been awarded the Lady Grand Cross of the Social Order of the Amaranth from Sweden, The National German Sustainability Award from Germany, and the Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Motherhood and Childhood Award from the UAE.
  75. Her Majesty holds honorary doctorates from Turku University, Karolinska Institute, Linköping University, and the University of Gothenburg.

Grattis på födelsedagen, din majestät! Happy Birthday, Your Majesty!

About author

Brittani is from Tennessee, USA. She is a political scientist and historian after graduating with a degree in the topics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in December 2014. She also holds a master's degree from Northeastern University. She enjoys reading and researching all things regarding the royals of the world. Her love of royals began in middle school, and she's been researching, reading, and writing on royalty for over a decade. She became Europe Editor in October 2016, and then Deputy Editor in January 2019, and has been featured on several podcasts, radio shows, news broadcasts and websites including Global News Canada, ABC News Australia, WION India and BBC World News.