In 1980 a change was made in the Swedish Constitution which altered hundreds of years of Swedish history and tradition. It also forever changed the life of a very young girl.
In 1979 the Swedish parliament had voted to change the law of succession so that the throne would be passed down by equal primogeniture rather than agnatic primogeniture – in other words, it would now not be the eldest son of the monarch who became heir to the throne, but the monarch’s eldest child.
The change was also retroactive when it came into effect in 1980, which meant that Prince Carl Philip (born in 1979) was now second in line to the throne, while his older sister Victoria was proclaimed heir apparent and Crown Princess of Sweden.
Victoria Ingrid Alice Désirée, who was born on July 14, 1977 in Stockholm, will therefore be Sweden’s fourth Queen regnant the day she takes over from her father, King Carl XVI Gustaf. It is a role she has prepared for almost all her life. And since her declaration of majority on her 18th birthday it is responsibility she has taken head on.
As Sweden’s Crown Princess, Victoria is one of the busiest members of the Royal Family. She has also developed a reputation as a dutiful and serious-minded royal. In the past year, her official engagements have taken her all around Sweden, representing the Royal Family. She also represented Sweden in Afghanistan, Greece, Kenya, Belgium, Denmark and the United States. It is not rare that Victoria disembarks a train only to board an airplane a few hours later.
Victoria is also one of the most popular members of the Royal Family. Her office receives thousands of invitations and requests every year, asking her to attend everything from conferences to openings to jubilees. She always prepares and researches thoroughly before turning up at an engagement – she energetically tries to learn everything she can about the people she will meet and the places she will visit, in order to be a truly active participant.
The Crown Princess seems to live by a combination of the mottos of both her father and great-grandfather. King Gustaf VI Adolf’s, who reigned from 1950 to 1973, motto was “Duty first”. King Carl XVI Gustaf’s motto is “For Sweden – With the times”.
I am often asked “What is she really like?”. As a former colleague, my observation is that she is very similar to her parents the King and Queen. Like them, she believes in, and follows, duty and tradition. She is a person who knows her mind, is a good judge of character and is assiduous and determined. The Crown Princess is also a person with genuine warmth and kindness.
I have often thought about a visit the Crown Princess made to Astrid Lindgren’s Children’s Hospital in the autumn of 2007, and to which I accompanied her when I was an information secretary at the Royal Court.
At the hospital she visited amongst other places the neurological pediatric ward and the therapy play room. The children were of course very excited to meet a real life princess and there was a lot of enthusiasm in the air.
However, anyone who has ever been to a children’s hospital knows it is a place of very mixed emotions. There is an overwhelming feeling of sadness and injustice in seeing so many young people struck down by serious illness. What I witnessed, though, was an overwhelming feeling of joy and happiness as the Crown Princess met, and spent time with, the children.
It was not only the children that were cheerful though – you could see how much the Crown Princess enjoyed spending time with each and every one of the children and how candidly they spoke with one another. That natural interaction, and connection, between them was truly a wonderful experience to witness. The Crown Princess has an authentic interest in all the people she meets, young and old, and the people who meet her sense that authenticity right away.