King Carl XVI Gustaf turned 74 years last week and spent the day at Stenhammars castle, where he is in voluntary quarantine with Queen Silvia. However, even though the day was moderately celebrated in a safe environment, the king is now being criticized by Swedish media for the gift he bought for himself in connection with his birthday.
The King has paid 1.7 million Swedish crowns for a brand new car, an exclusive BMW M8 Competition Coupé. This is equivalent to 151,000 euros, 132,000 pounds or 165,000 US dollars. The news was first reported by the Swedish website Bytbil.com and the king’s new car has been much debated in Swedish papers and on TV in the days since.
The king has been criticized for making such an investment at a time when large parts of the country and the world are in deep crisis due to the corona virus. Famous Swedish TV-host Gunnar Rehlin started the debate by saying: “We are in a crisis. Businesses go bankrupt. People are losing their jobs. Famine threatens a number of countries. And the king buys a car for 1.7 million. A proper role model”.
Jonas Frycklund, chief economist at the interest organization for Swedish business, defended the king. He says: “After the crisis, if you want companies and factories to supply goods and services, then it is important that we continue to consume. I believe that if you see the car purchase in a larger context, then the king has helped secure jobs.”
The Head of Information at the Swedish Royal Court, Margareta Thorgren, told Aftonbladet that she would not comment on the King’s private car purchase. The Swedish newspaper “Expressen” said on Sunday that the King, together with Queen Silvia and Princess Birgitta, took a drive to test the new car, which has a top speed of over 300 km per hour.
The car joins the Swedish king’s collection of luxury cars. Carl XVI Gustaf already owns a Shelby Mustang, an AC Cobra, a Ferrari and a Porsche.