Sweden’s King mulls using powers to break Nobel deadlock

Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf has swooped in to break the deadlock in the scandal-hit Swedish Academy, unveiling a plan to change its statues by royal decree to allow members to be replaced.

Sweden's King mulls using powers to break Nobel deadlock
King Carl XVI Gustaf attends a Christmas party at the Academy in happier times. Photo: Jonas Ekströmer/TT

The king, whose predecessor Gustav III established the Academy in 1786, announced the rare employment of his royal powers in a statement released by the Royal Court on Wednesday morning.

“It is my conviction that the Monarch has authority over the status of the Swedish Academy which my predecessor Gustav III established,” he said. “In the light of recent developments, I am going to consider the need to supplement these statutes, including those concerning the right to leave.”

The Academy's 18 members, who are elected for life, select the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, amongst other duties.

Three members of the Academy announced on Friday that they were vacating their seats in protest at the committee's decision not to expel a member whose husband has been accused of sexual and financial improprieties.

Changing the statutes would allow the three to be replaced and might make it easier for the woman whose husband is at the centre of the scandal to resign (at present membership only ends if the person dies or is expelled by vote).


“The conflicts which have arisen within the Swedish Academy are deeply unfortunate and risk seriously damaging the Academy's important functions,” the king said.

“It is crucial that all involved now realise their responsibility for the institution and contribute to resolving the conflicts. For members of the Swedish Academy, responsibility for the institution must always be paramount.”