This week it was revealed in Resumé, the house paper for Sweden’s media darlings, that a group of Stockholm public relations professionals was ganging together to ensure that King Carl XVI Gustaf goes down in history as the last occupant of the Swedish throne.
The report claimed that the spin doctors had been brought together by the anti monarchy group Republikanksa föreningen. They included many of Sweden’s best PR professionals, and were backed by politicians from both the left and the right of Swedish politics. The group claims to have recruited several popular celebrities to the cause.
One of the consultants involved is Ulf Bergström from major PR firm Gullers Grupp, who could find himself on tricky terms with his boss Peter Forssman, who in his other incarnation is the royal court’s master of ceremonies. Bergström appeared to claim that all that the republicans wanted to do was help out the royal family:
“The monarchy is an affront to human rights,” Aftonbladet quoted him as saying. “ The royal children have no private life, and aren’t even allowed to vote.”
This concern for the welfare of the young royals was politely rebuffed by the palace:
“We have freedom of speech in this country, and we have no opinions on this,” was the initial response of Ann-Christine Jernberg, press secretary to the King. Still, Jernberg could not resist a quick dig at the republicans’ efforts reminding them: “if you look at opinion polls, this has little chance of succeeding.”
This was a view that was echoed by Aftonbladet columnist Lena Mellin, who reminded readers that in the latest polls only 16 percent of Swedes wanted to get rid of the monarchy. Mellin contrasted this with the views of politicians, citing a survey by Sveriges Television last year that showed that only 35 percent of members of parliament were in favour of keeping the king on the throne.
Mellin also wondered about the motives for the campaign. She conceded that it could be driven by idealism, but she argued that given that those involved know that it won’t succeed, it was likely no more than a ruse by publicity-hungry PR men and women to get their faces on the telly.
“They’ll be written about in the papers, and every debating programme on the TV and radio will invite them on,” she wrote, conceding that by writing about them in Aftonbladet she was giving them the publicity that they desired.
Yet the republicans were sticking to their guns, and insisting that this was a matter of principle rather than expediency. Birgitta Ohlsson, Liberal politician and chairwoman of Republikanska föreningen, told Aftonbladet that “it is wrong to inherit a position in a democratic society, and it encourages far too much servile royal brown-nosing.”