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'Free Estelle Bernadotte from her royal burden'

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'Free Estelle Bernadotte from her royal burden'
Princess Estelle on her third birthday. Photo: Kungahuset
10:00 CET+01:00
For this week's debate article The Local hears from the Republican Association, which is calling on Sweden to abolish the monarchy and liberate Princess Estelle following her third birthday.

Estelle Bernadotte turned three yesterday. She is born to, unless our rules of government change, one day become Sweden’s head of state.

Our view is that the position as head of state should not be inherited, but that all public posts should be open to all citizens. Of course there are many other reasons why Sweden should become a republic. One that many perhaps fail to consider is that we want to free Estelle Bernadotte and the whole Bernadotte family.

The members of the royal family evidently enjoy a good life. It is likely that they own everything they can wish for in material terms and have great opportunities of gaining political influence through their networks. But they cannot control their own lives. To abolish the monarchy is thus a question of common humanity.

Of course they can reject the throne, but is it really that simple in real life? Most of the family have been raised in their roles since they were born. They have not made an active choice to become public people, but have lived in a golden cage since before they knew anything else. The pressure on them from the royal court, media and monarchists has been so extensive that they have had to accept their fates. What then does this fate mean for Estelle Bernadotte?

According to the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child, the private life of each child should be respected. Even the royal family has spoken about Estelle Bernadotte’s right to a normal upbringing. Despite this the royal court’s PR office constantly issues new pictures and movie clips of this child. In fact, she was only two months old when she made her first public appearance, being paraded at her grandfather’s birthday. In August 2014 the royal court had invited 45 journalists and photographers to document her first day at nursery school.

The thought from the perspective of the royal family must be that Estelle Bernadotte should get used to media exposure to the degree that she herself perceives it as natural. The monarchy flourishes and is sustained by the members of the Bernadotte family living their lives in the spotlight from cradle to grave.

Estelle Bernadotte naturally receives a strict upbringing without any encouragement of critical thinking or opportunity of free choice – because what if she should then become a republican? As far as her religious faith, if any, is concerned she has no choice at all. For according to the Swedish constitution, and in direct conflict with the Children’s Convention, Estelle Bernadotte has no freedom of religion. She is the only child in Sweden who by law is denied this human right.

When she becomes an adult, Estelle Bernadotte will not be able to marry whomever she chooses. She must have the approval of both the ruling head of state and the government to be able to enter into marriage. In fact, she is not even allowed to travel abroad without the consent of the head of state, not even after she comes of age.

Is she then really to be pitied? Yes, we actually think so. Many children lead much worse lives, but at least in those cases the state and society try to help. When it comes to Estelle Bernadotte’s rights, everyone looks away. In fact, the parliament allows this to continue.

Who cares about the freedom and life choices of Estelle Bernadotte? The royal court wants to raise her to become a loyal heir to the throne. Together with media, they create a public demand to share in her life. This cannot be a reasonable upbringing for a small child. Abolishing the monarchy is not just a question of democracy and equality. It is also about freeing Estelle Bernadotte.

This article is a translated version of a debate article originally written in Swedish by Mia Sydow Mölleby and Anna Steele of the Republican Association of Sweden (Republikanska Föreningen).
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