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History Spotlight: The accession of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden

Photo: The Royal Court, Sweden

King Carl XVI Gustaf ascended to the Swedish throne on 15 September 1973 (coincidentally, the same day his future son-in-law, Daniel Westling, was born) at the age of 27. He became the King of Sweden after the death of his grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf.

He was at his grandfather’s deathbed in Helsingborg and returned to Stockholm as the new monarch on 16 September.

On 19 September, Carl Gustaf took the oath as King of Sweden in front of the cabinet before appearing before parliament (the Riksdag), diplomatic corps, and court in the Rikshall of the Royal Palace. His Majesty then gave the traditional memorial speech for the monarch who had just died in front of a live television audience.

The new monarch later appeared on the balcony of the Royal Palace to greet the assembled crowds before attending a private meeting with the cabinet where he announced his regnal name and motto. Carl Gustaf selected his reign’s slogan as “For Sweden – In time” and said he would reign as King Carl XVI Gustaf.

His new monogram was completed a few months after his ascension by graphic designer Karl-Erik Forsberg, and he was later named the Royal Court’s first graphic artist in 1978.

When he became monarch, plans were already in place to change some of the laws in Sweden regarding the monarchy, including taking away some of the monarch’s power. The 1974 Instrument of Government took effect on 1 January 1975 and took most of the formal powers away from the monarch – leaving him with only ceremonial roles like his counterpart in the United Kingdom. However, the monarch in Sweden has less power than the UK monarch; he does not have the power to formally appoint a prime minister or give royal assent to government bills.

Although at the time of his accession to the throne, he was a bachelor, he was dating German-born Silvia Sommerlath. Less than three years after he became King of Sweden, he announced his engagement to Silvia, and they married in June 1976. They have three children: Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine. They also have eight grandchildren.

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.