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The law that turned a Crown Prince into a Crown Princess

Before 1980, the Swedish line of succession was governed by agnatic primogeniture – meaning females were excluded from the line of succession.

King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia’s first child was a girl – Victoria – who was born in July 1977; at birth, she was not Crown Princess of Sweden but instead titled Princess Victoria. When her younger brother, Carl Philip, was born in May 1979, he was the Crown Prince of Sweden. His time as the heir to the throne did not last long because the Swedish government was already in the process of changing the laws governing succession. The Riksdag (parliament) passed the new law on 7 November 1979 after first being brought up for a vote in 1975.

The new law of absolute primogeniture (1979 Act of Succession) went into effect on 1 January 1980; thus, Victoria, as the eldest child of the monarch, became the Crown Princess, and Carl Philip was demoted to the title of Prince. Sweden was the first country to adopt new laws of succession that allowed women to ascend the throne ahead of younger brothers.

The 1979 Act of Succession also changed a few other things, which the King did not object to – like overriding the law that said Swedish princes could not marry commoners and retain their place in the line of succession.

The full Act of Succession now stipulates that those in the line of succession must:

  1. Be a descendant of King Carl Gustaf
  2. “Always profess the pure and evangelical faith … prince and princess of the Royal House shall be brought up in that same faith and within the Realm.”
  3. Get the government’s consent to marry upon application from the monarch
  4. Undertake travel abroad without the knowledge and consent of the monarch
  5. Cannot become head of state of another country without the monarch and the Riksdag’s consent (if this occurs without consent, they and their descendants lose succession rights)

The change has irked the King since it took effect, but not because of the change itself.

King Carl Gustaf was happy for Sweden to change its laws of succession to allow for equal succession rights; he was not happy that the new law took effect retroactively – stripping his son, Carl Philip, of his Crown Prince title just a few months after his birth.

In a January 2023 interview with SVT, the King spoke about the change in the laws of succession that stripped his son of his Crown Prince title and gave it instead to Carl Philip’s older sister, Victoria. He said: “It’s tricky to have laws that work retroactively. It doesn’t seem wise.

“You can accept the next generation – that’s okay. But it was my son who was born, and they got rid of it all.”

The King later clarified his remarks, saying Carl Philip and Victoria get along well and that Victoria is “very committed” and “feels the responsibility” of her role as the heir to the throne.

Crown Princess Victoria is the most popular royal in Sweden now and has proven herself the perfect heir to the throne, making her father and Sweden very proud in the process.

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.