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Swedish Jubilee: The King’s Early Reign

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden is celebrating his Golden Jubilee as 2023 marks 50 years since he ascended to the Swedish throne. This is a significant milestone as it is the first Golden Jubilee in Sweden. We will be looking at King Carl Gustaf’s early reign. 

King Carl XVI Gustaf became King in September of 1973 at 27 after his grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf, died. The King’s father, Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten, died in a 1947 plane crash.

The King has faced several legal changes to the monarchy during his reign, with two significant changes coming in the first decade. 

A year into his reign, the Swedish government passed the 1974 Instrument of Government, which fundamentally changed the official role of the monarch in Sweden. While the monarch was at least on paper the head of state and carried out several political functions, the 1974 act changed this. 

Sweden politically became a parliamentary system in 1917; as in many other constitutional monarchies, the Swedish king would appoint a prime minister. That role is now currently filled by the Speaker of the Riksdag. Bills in Sweden no longer require royal assent (the monarch’s signature and approval) to become law. 

The second significant change to the Swedish monarchy occurred on 1 January 1980. In 1979, the Riksdag voted to move from agnatic primogeniture, meaning that only males (in order of birth) could inherit the throne, to absolute primogeniture, meaning that the monarch’s eldest child, regardless of gender, would inherit the throne.

This was a significant change, as it was retroactively applied to the Swedish Royal Family. Prince Carl Philip was born in 1979 and was Crown Prince of Sweden until 1 January 1980. His elder sister, Princess Victoria, then became Crown Princess of Sweden. The King has made comments in interviews throughout the years where he has stated that the law should not have been changed retroactively. 

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