The Royals: ‘A living touchstone to the past’

Sweden's royals remain popular because they provide an invaluable link to the past, writes Gene Oberto, in response to an article critical of the country's constitutional monarchy.

I was a little confused by the article written by Noel McCarthy. From the title, “A royal mess: Why Sweden can’t have its own Obama”, I was prepared to read a discourse on how diversity needs to be brought into the lawmaking and, more to the point, the lawmakers of Sweden. It, instead, was a complaint that while Sweden’s foreign policy demands democratic diversity in other countries’ elections, that it does not hold itself to such a demand.

Fair enough, while Sweden does hold free and democratic elections, it still holds on to its monarchy, at least in “ceremonial functions.” So the Swedish Constitution allows the King to hand out some medals and make a speech on National Day. But there doesn’t seem to be any sinister “huge amount of informal power for which he cannot be held to account by the electorate”.

The author also seems to miss his point by using the idea that not being of the “pure evangelical faith” prevents someone from being the royal leader. I would think that if my mother and father weren’t already the King and Queen, I would have a less than outside chance.

My belief as to why Sweden keeps the royals around is that Their Majesties provide a direct link to Sweden’s past. If one were to take into account that when you listen to the King speak about the goodness of the Swedish people, you sense that your father, grandfather, great grandfather and so on also listened to that kind of reinforcement.

It’s the idea that this King is related to your descendant’s King that is the comfort. He is a Swede as you are, and that generates the pride in being Swedish. The King (or Queen) is the living touchstone to your nation’s past.

As an American, with the disposable leaders we have, one gives deference to the Office of The President, not to the guy who warms the chair.

While the future Swedish Obama might have a problem being elected as Prime Minister (and that would be the better discussion), he could be. His being elected King is a moot point. We can’t choose who our parents are.


Scandal-hit Frenchman ‘groped Sweden’s Crown Princess’

Jean-Claude Arnault, the French photographer at the centre of the crisis at the Swedish Academy, has been accused of sexually harassing no less a figure than Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria.

Scandal-hit Frenchman 'groped Sweden's Crown Princess'
Crown Princess Victoria. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT
According to the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, three sources, at least one within the Academy, claim to have witnessed Arnault groping the Crown Princess’s bottom at an event put on by the body, which awards the Nobel Prize for Literature. 
The Swedish feminist Ebba Witt-Brattström, who was present at the event at Villa Bergsgården in Stockholm, told both Expressen and Swedish broadcaster SVT that one of Victoria's aides had leapt to her rescue.
“Her female aide threw herself forward and pushed him away,” she said. “She pushed away his hand.” 
After the alleged transgression, the Academy’s then Permanent Secretary Horace Engdahl was reportedly instructed by the court to “undertake measures” to ensure that the Crown Princess, then still in her 20s, would never be left alone in the company of the then 60-year-old Arnault. 
The story, if true, is another blow to the claims of longstanding Academy members, Engdahl in particular, that they were unaware of Arnault reputation as a serial sexual harasser.
“We can’t comment on that particular information,” Margareta Thorgren, press officer at the Swedish Royal Court told the newspaper, although she said the court supported the #metoo movement against sexual harassment. 
“The information surrounding Jean-Claude Arnault which the media has reported since the autumn is terrifying,” she added. 
Svenska Dagbladet has translated their scoop into English German, and French
In November, the Dagens Nyheter newspaper reported accusations from 18 different women that Arnault had sexually harassed or assaulted them, either at Forum, the cultural centre he helped run, or at apartments owned by the Swedish Academy in Stockholm and Paris. 
Arnault is married to Katarina Frostenson, a poet and Academy member, and is reportedly a close friend of Engdahl's. 
The photographer has denied all the accusations of harassment and his lawyer on Saturday told Expressen and Swedish broadcaster SVT that the new accusation was “false and erroneous”, and had been “released to slander and damage him”. 
“The claimed transgressions never took place,” Arnault said, according to his lawyer. “This is idiotic”. 
The accusations have thrown the Academy into turmoil, with no fewer than six Academy members stepping down as a result, four in protest at the way they have been handled.
Katarina Frostenson and former Permanent Secretary Sara Danius said they would both leave their seats on April 12, after a tense meeting at which Frostenson reportedly said she would not resign unless Danius did too.  
Only ten of the Academy’s 18 members are still active, and the institution is expected to decide next Thursday if it will award the Nobel Prize this year, or postpone it to next year.