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EXPLAINED: What's going on with the Swedish royal family?

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
EXPLAINED: What's going on with the Swedish royal family?

After Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf removed five of his grandchildren from the Royal House on Monday, here's a look at the royal shakeup and what it means.


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Why is everyone in Sweden talking about the royal family today?

Well, there's been quite a big change to its makeup. King Carl XVI Gustaf announced that five of his seven grandchildren had been removed from the Royal House.

Does that mean they've been kicked out?

They're still part of the royal family, the term which covers all members of the King's extended family. But they won't be able to benefit from the taxpayer-funded sum that goes to members of the Royal House.

On the other hand, no longer being part of the Royal House actually means the children, who are currently all aged between one and five, will have considerably more freedom in future. Simply put, they won't be official representatives of Sweden and its head of state in the same way. They won't be expected to perform official royal duties, can choose which job to take or whether they want to start a business, and can choose to hold political opinions openly, unlike the royals.

The King and Queen are pictured on a royal visit. Photo: Suvad Mrkonjic/TT

So... there's no family drama?

On the contrary. Fredrik Wersäll, who holds the title of Marshal of the Realm, told media on Monday that the family had been discussing the possible change for several years, and that both sets of parents were happy with the move.

And if there's no secret drama, what was the reason?

Good old Swedish efficiency, of course. Wersäll said the decision is a way of coping with the growing Royal House.

"We have a large royal family. If you include the next generation there are currently ten people in the line of succession," he said.

And in the shorter term, the new set-up is particularly helpful for Princess Madeleine, who currently lives in the US with her three children. The removal of her children from the Royal House should make it easier for the family to continue their life there and for the children to attend American schools.


A post shared by Princess Madeleine of Sweden (@princess_madeleine_of_sweden) on Oct 7, 2019 at 5:59am PDT

In an Instagram post, Princess Madeleine herself said: "This change has been planned over a long time. Chris and I believe it is good that our children will now have a greater opportunity in the future to form their own lives as private individuals." 

Who exactly are the King's grandchildren?

The five affected by Monday's decision are the children of the King's two younger children.

That's Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia's two sons, Prince Alexander and Prince Gabriel, and the children of Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill: Princess Leonore, Prince Nicolas and Princess Adrienne.

Princess Sofia, Prince Carl-Philip and their two sons. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Er, Chris O'Neill? Surely that's Prince Chris to you?

Nope. When the British-American financier married Sweden's Princess Madeleine in 2013, he declined to take a royal title, or to take Swedish citizenship (which would have been a requirement for the title of Prince).

He's been clear about his preference to protect his private life, and to continue working in business. He is generally referred to as Herr Christopher O'Neill, literally 'Mr Christopher O'Neill' in official royal announcements.

Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

Have any other members of the royal family lost their status before?

Yes. Two of the King's three sisters, Princess Margaretha and Princess Christina, both lost their status as Royal Highness due to what were seen as morganatic or unequal marriages: Margaretha married a businessman from the UK and Christina married a Swede. The reason they are still known as Princess is that after their marriage the King gave them what are called courtesy titles, meaning they didn't have legal significance.

So they lost their titles because of who they married?

Yes, but that practice has changed now, which is why Princess Madeleine has remained a member of the Royal House after marrying a non-royal; not to mention Crown Princess Victoria, who married her personal trainer, now Prince Daniel. 

Prince Daniel, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Estelle, Prince Oscar, and King Carl Gustaf. Photo: Mikael Fritzon/TT

Will the five grandchildren also give up their titles?

Currently, each of the children has two titles: Prince or Princess and Duke or Duchess. They will retain both, with one key difference.

The Prince and Princess titles will become personal, meaning they won’t be transferred or inherited by future family members, for example spouses or children. The titles of Duke and Duchess are hereditary.

So, who’s left in the Royal House?

Of the youngest generation, Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar remain part of the Royal House. These are the children of Crown Princess Victoria, heir to the throne, and her husband Prince Daniel, both of whom are also members of the Royal House, along with the King's other children Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine, Carl Philip's wife Princess Sofia, and of course the King and Queen themselves.

The King's sister Princess Birgitta, who unlike her two other sisters did marry a prince, is also a member.


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