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Flashback Friday: King Carl XVI Gustaf’s remarks on Crown Princess Victoria becoming queen

By Frankie Fouganthin - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden has not always been happy with the idea of Crown Princess Victoria following him as head of state. In the past, he has stated that he wanted his son, Prince Carl Philip, to follow him as King as Sweden. If the King had been able to decide, Prince Carl Philip would have been the heir, as the King has shared his displeasure at the constitution’s retroactive effect several times.

Prince Carl Philip was the Crown Prince of Sweden for seven months. In 1980, the Swedish Constitution was changed, and the Nordic monarchy adopted absolute primogeniture – where the oldest child, no matter their gender, inherits the throne. In most nations where changes like this have occurred, the law has not been retroactive. In Sweden, however, it was decided that the mandate needed to have a retroactive effect. Thus, that is why the crown prince title was taken from Carl Philip and given it to his older sister, Victoria.

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However, the change of the Swedish government was contrary to the will of the current monarch and father of both children. In an interview with the newspaper Vestmanland in 1980, the King said: “I, myself, want my son Carl Philip to be my successor. I am sure that the majority of the Swedish people want a king on the throne”.

The King restated his opposition in an interview with the Swedish television channel SVT in 2003 and assured the people that his attitude had not changed. When asked if he thought it was wrong to change the constitution, King Carl Gustaf answered: “Of course, I think it is easy to understand that a constitution that works retrospectively is hilarious.”

The King of Sweden and the man who was the nation’s crown prince for seven months. Photo: By Susanne Nilsson, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons.

While His Majesty is now happy that Victoria is his heir, the King’s views on the retroactive constitutional alteration have not changed.

The King hinted that he thought the Swedish constitution was “funny” in 2011. At that time, the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet contacted the Royal Court regarding whether the King’s view on the succession had changed.

The then-Head of Communications at the Royal Court, Elisabeth Tarras-Wahlberg, answered: “The King is happy with Victoria as his heir, but he has not changed his mind on the new law of succession. His Majesty thinks it is wrong to introduce retroactive legislation and to take away [the title] from Prince Carl Philip as he was actually Crown Prince for seven months.”

According to recent polls, Victoria is more popular than the King is in Sweden.

Prince Carl Philip was born as Crown Prince Carl Philip, but through a constitutional change, which came into force on 1 January 1980, he lost his first place in the Swedish line of succession. He is now fourth after his older sister, Crown Princess Victoria and her children, Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar. Carl Philip is 284th in the British line of succession, while Victoria is 285th as the British law of succession was not changed to absolute primogeniture until 2015; the British law of succession was backdated to October 2011.

About author

Senior Europe Correspondent Oskar Aanmoen has a master in military and political history of the Nordic countries. He has written five books on historical subjects and more than 700 articles for Royal Central. He has also interview both Serbian and Norwegian royals. Aanmoen is based in Oslo, Norway.