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King: It was a long time ago

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King: It was a long time ago
17:28 CET+01:00
Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf on Thursday declined to answer questions about a controversial new biography that includes allegations of love affairs, wild parties with Swedish models and connections to the underworld.

The book, "Carl XVI Gustaf - Den motvillige monarken" ("Carl XVI Gustaf - The reluctant monarch"), reportedly provides a rare and detailed look into the King's private life.

At a press conference on Thursday afternoon following the annual elk hunt at the Halle- och Hunneberg reserve on the shores of Vänern in western Sweden, the King chose not to answer any questions about the contents of the book.

"The book came to us quite late yesterday afternoon and I have not had time to read it yet. I cannot review a book that I have not yet read," the King said at the press conference.

However, he admitted that he had taken note of some of the information in the newspapers.

"I have seen a number of the headlines that have not been so nice. I have spoken to my family and the Queen. We will turn the page and go on now because as I understand it, this is about things that happened a long time ago," he explained.

The King spoke for between five and 10 minutes. He revealed that he participated in two hunting rounds during the day, but had not shot any elk.

"However, I saw the backsides of two of them," he joked.

At the end of his speech, he thanked everyone and welcomed them to come back for next year's hunt at Hunneberg. He then resolutely went around the corner of a red cottage, dodging questions from journalists such as, "What are you views on the degree of truthfulness in the book?" and "Have you been to Club Power?"

One of the book's chapters tells of the King's numerous private parties hosted at Club Power, which was run by gangster Mille Markovic in the early 1990s.

According to the book, the King and a group of friends regularly had the club to themselves on Monday evenings for nights filled with elaborate meals and capped with liaisons in a whirlpool with scantily clad women aspiring to be models.

According to Markovic, he enjoyed having the King as a patron because it minimised the chances of unwanted visits by the police.

The book also tells of an alleged year-long love affair the King had with singer Camilla Henemark, a founding member of the band Army of Lovers who was born to a Nigerian father and Swedish mother. The relationship reportedly lasted about a year in the late 1990s with the knowledge of Queen Silvia.

After a while at the press briefing, the King was driven away in a large black Jeep. The meeting at Hunneberg attracted many journalists and photographs from Denmark, Norway and Finland.

"There is also great interest in the King in Norway. A book surrounded by scandal understandably generates interest. We had the story of Mette-Marit in our time, although she was not the King," said Kristian Mykleset of Norway's TV2.

Norwegian Crown Princess Mette-Marit attracted a storm of controversy when she moved in with Crown Prince Haakon before they were engaged. Then a single mother, the father of her son was in jail for drugs offences at the time.

"However, the Swedish King is a head of state who is said to have had affairs with women and may have compromised national security," added Mykleset.

The book also touches on some of the measures employed to ensure the King's alleged wild side remained hidden from the Swedish public. In some instances, Säpo agents reportedly were deployed to search the homes of different women to confiscate pictures and negatives from the King's private parties.

According to the Aftonbladet report about the book on Wednesday, Säpo agents secretly snooped around in various flats and otherwise pressured women who partied with the King.

A Sifo survey commissioned by Sveriges Television (SVT) shows that only one in four Swedes believe that journalists have the right to dig up scandals in the King's private life, while 50 percent of Swedes think that it is wrong.

In Sweden's parliament, the Riksdag, the strongest support for an examination of the King's private life comes from the Left Party, while a large majority of the Christian Democrats want to leave the King in peace.

Meanwhile, the book's publisher Kristoffer Lind of Lind & Co. reported that the book is selling like hotcakes.

"People are eager to read the book, even the King himself. So it is not impossible that we'll have to print more copies. The first print run isn't sold out, but we only have 5,000 copies left of a run of 20,000," he said.

Lind is confident in the book's sources and does not worry about a possible libel trial. He does not know if the women mentioned in the book will come forward should such a trial take place, adding there is nothing on paper saying it would happen.

There has been - and is - very strong demand for the book. Online bookseller Adlibris already sold 1,000 copies on Wednesday and many more were sold on Thursday.

"If we sell more than 1,000 copies in a day, that is quite a lot," CEO Pär Svärdson told Svenska Dagbladet, adding that only anticipated releases from popular authors like Stieg Larsson and Camilla Läckberg can reach such figures.

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