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


Granny Knows Best: the grandparents of King Carl XVI Gustaf

Grandparents have an important role in the lives of their grandchildren – royal or not. However, when your grandchild is a future monarch, the influence is that much more important. Continuing our series, Royal Central takes a look at the grandparents of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

King Gustaf VI Adolf

Gustaf Adolf was the paternal grandfather and predecessor to King Carl XVI Gustaf. He was born on 11 November 1882 as the son of the future King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria.

He married Princess Margaret of Connaught in 1905 and had five children, Prince Gustaf Adolf (the father of King Carl XVI Gustaf) and Queen Ingrid of Denmark. His wife died suddenly in 1920, and Gustaf Adolf later remarried. His second marriage was to Lady Louise Mountbatten in 1923.

He came to the throne on 29 October 1950 and reigned until his death on 15 September 1973.

By Unknown author – [1] Dutch National Archives, The Hague, Fotocollectie Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANEFO), 1945-1989 bekijk toegang Bestanddeelnummer 914-4746, CC BY-SA 3.0 nl, Wikimedia Commons

He was a very popular monarch and helped to mold his grandson (as his son and the future Crown Prince of Sweden, Gustaf Adolf, died in a plane crash when Carl Gustaf was not yet a year old). King Gustaf VI Adolf approved a constitutional change in 1973 that stripped the monarchy of its remaining political functions and turned the monarchy into a ceremonial role. It took effect two years after his grandson took the throne.

He was a big supporter of sports and that was inherited by his grandson. The King served as President of the Swedish Olympic Committee, and it would be at the Munich Olympic Games that Carl Gustaf found his queen.

Gustaf Adolf held a firm belief, and had an unwillingness to bend, that royals should only marry other royals. It was unconstitutional for Swedish princes to marry someone of unequal rank and remain in the line of succession, but Gustaf Adolf took a keen interest in making sure removing their titles and privileges. He also insisted that the Royal Court only refer to them as Mr Bernadotte. This belief was not passed down to Carl Gustaf who had no issues with his children marrying commoners. Since 1980, Swedish princes no longer are required to marry someone of equal rank to retain their place in the line of succession; they only must acquire the permission of the monarch.

Crown Princess Margareta

Born as Princess Margaret of Connaught and a member of the British Royal Family on 15 January 1882, she married the future King Gustaf VI Adolf in 1905 and became the Duchess of Scania. Two years later, her husband became Crown Prince of Sweden, and she became Crown Princess (and was known as Margareta in Sweden).

Together, they had five children, including Prince Gustaf Adolf (the father of King Carl XVI Gustaf) and Queen Ingrid of Denmark.

By Unknown author –, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Margareta was a supporter of democracy in Sweden and her positive attitude is said to have helped form the future King Gustaf VI Adolf in his role as Crown Prince of Sweden.

Margareta never had the chance to be Queen of Sweden as she died of sepsis on 1 May 1920 – 30 years before her husband ascended the throne.

Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha

Charles Edward (born 19 July 1884) reigned as the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha from 30 July 1900 to 14 November 1918. He then became a private citizen and began supporting right-wing political parties, including the Nazis and Adolph Hitler.

He was imprisoned for his Nazi relations and was put on trial for crimes against humanity. He was acquitted of war crimes but was considered an “important Nazi”. He was released from prison in 1946 due to his bad health and the birth of his grandson, Carl Gustaf – who would one day become a king.

By A. Gimm, Gotha –[dead link], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

His son-in-law, Prince Gustaf Adolf, was killed in a plane crash in 1947, making his young grandson second in line to the Swedish throne. By 1950, Carl Gustaf was the Crown Prince of Sweden. Charles Edward died on 6 March 1954.

Princess Victoria Adelaide of Schleswig-Holstein

Victoria (born 31 December 1885) was the maternal grandmother of Carl Gustaf as the mother of Princess Sibylla. Victoria was Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha as the consort of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Charles Edward.

Her husband was a strong supporter of Adolph Hitler, and Victoria supported the Nazi’s at the beginning. She later turned against the regime after they seized power. After World War Two, she and her husband moved to Austria after their property in East Germany was seized by the Soviet Union.

By Franz Langhammer –, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

She died on 3 October 1970 – just two years before her daughter, Sibylla. Her grandson, Carl Gustaf would ascend the throne in 1973 as King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

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. 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.