Women ignored in King’s honours

Sweden's royal honours system has been labelled male-dominated and unrepresentative of society. The king's finest gold medal has only been awarded to three women - compared to 33 men - since he began dishing it out on succeeding to the throne in 1973.

Of all the medals which bear the name of King Carl XVI Gustaf , only 20 percent have been awarded to women.

“It reflects the male society we have been living in but from which we are increasingly emerging,” explained the palace’s highest official, Marshal of the Realm Ingemar Eliasson , to Svenska Dagbladet.

The last time a woman recieved the most prestigious ‘Size 12 medal’ was in the early 1990s when Ingegerd Troedsson, who was parliament’s Speaker, was honoured.

Carl XVI Gustaf awards the medals to deserving Swedish and foreign citizens, or loyal palace staff, twice a year on February 28th and June 6th. The medals come in various sizes and are embellished with a chain or ribbons of different rank. And the more prestigious the honour, the fewer female recipients.

The lowliest award, the ‘size 8 medal with royal blue ribbon’ has been given to 288 men and 173 women. But the ‘size twelve medal with the ribbon of the Order of the Seraphim’, the second highest honour, has been awarded to 399 men and only 44 women.

“In time, this must be put right,” commented Ingemar Eliasson.

As well as these more personal honours, the king also awards the Serafim medals for exceptional contributions to society, the Litteris et Artibus medal for artistic efforts and the Prince Carl medal for national or international humanitarian work.