Sweden's royals reflect on year that ended in tragedy

James Savage
James Savage - [email protected]
Sweden's royals reflect on year that ended in tragedy

For a full collection of stories about Sweden's royals, see The Royal Family: the definitive guide.


The producers of the traditional SVT television documentary on the Swedish royal family’s year were faced with a dilemma. They had finished producing their programme well before Christmas and the events in South East Asia, yet Sweden’s first family could hardly speak to the nation without mentioning the events that have shaken their country and the world over the past weeks.

An extra interview with the King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia was therefore recorded by Swedish Television, in which the royal couple reiterated their sympathy for the victims – both Swedes and non-Swedes – affected by the tsunami disaster. The king remarked how affected the Swedish people were by the scale of the catastrophe, not simply because a large number of Swedes died but out of concern for people of all nationalities.

Talking about the children who have lost parents in the tsunami, the king reflected on his own experiences of losing his father as a young boy. Although he said that he was too young to remember it properly, he remarked that in those days it was “taboo to talk about your feelings”, and added that there was more help available for children who lost parents today.

Queen Silvia, who is heavily involved in the charity the World Childhood Foundation, also focused on the plight of children. She said that “to be there” for those affected by the tragedy was the most important thing that people could do.

The royals’ comments about the tsunami followed a wide-ranging interview about the royal year, in which the royal children talked about their desire for privacy, and in which the whole family rallied round the king after the controversy of his comments during a state visit to Brunei earlier this year.

During that visit, Carl Gustaf said in an interview that the Sultan had “an enormous closeness to his people”, comments that were interpreted by many in Sweden as condoning his autocratic rule.

But in the new interview, the king said that his comments “were not actually interpreted in the way that I intended.”

His family were, if anything, more forthright in their defence of Carl Gustaf. Queen Silvia complained that the king “never got a chance to defend himself”, and pointed out that “we were on a goodwill visit, and staying in [the Sultan’s] house”. Princess Madeleine talked of her feelings, saying “it was hard for us, knowing that dad was getting such a hard ride.”

The interview also touched on the lighter side of royal life, showing the king and queen reviewing the new stamps that bear their portraits. The king, whilst not saying what he thought of the likeness, said that it was “a great honour that one is still allowed to appear” on the stamps.

The younger royals, whose interview was filmed separately from that with their parents, also talked about the pressures of royal life. They said that they were frustrated by the way the press portrays them, and reserved their strongest criticism for the newspapers’ treatment of Princess Madeleine.

“The picture of Madeleine as a party princess is completely wrong,” said Crown Princess Victoria.

The princesses and their brother, Prince Carl Philip, also talked about the difficulties of maintaining a private life. Victoria was reluctant to go into any details about her relationship, although she did acknowledge that Daniel Westling was her boyfriend.

“ I think it affects every relationship when one of you is in the public eye,” she said. Madeleine, while sticking to the policy of not discussing her private life, said that “sometimes I think it would be good to be open about it.” But her elder sister was having none of it, retorting that this would just encourage greater intrusion.

Source: Sveriges Television


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