For Swedish Royals, Millennia of Battles


They’re young, they’re beautiful and they’ve got blue blood running through their veins. What more could a tabloid wish for?

Swedish tabloids, and their European colleagues, can’t get enough of Crown Princess Victoria (born 1977), her brother Prince Carl Philip (born 1979) and sister Princess Madeleine (born 1982). Especially the princesses are closely monitored with reports on their workouts (the crown princess’ boyfriend owns a gym), their diets, favorite designers, love affairs and even updates on the progress of Princess Madeleine’s summer tan. Princess “Madde” was voted “The most beautiful woman in the world” by Spanish gossip magazine “Hola” and no celebrity party is complete without a few reality show stars and at least one partying princess.

It seems like a charmed life, but such constant scrutiny can be too much even for a princess trained for a life in the public eye. When the crown princess was 20, the royal court revealed that she suffered from bulimia. The crown princess interrupted her studies in Stockholm and spent two years at Yale, where she could live in relative anonymity.

“They’re just kids,” Queen Silvia said in an interview on Swedish television. “It’s easy to forget when they are public figures, but in the end they’re just kids.” Like any mother would, Queen Silvia and her husband Carl XIV Gustaf fought back. After hounding the royal family for years, German tabloids had to retract stories of the crown princess secretly getting married, separating, suffering from cancer, getting pregnant and having an abortion.

Aside from the periodical lawsuit, the royal children have accepted their duties with grace and they conduct their work exemplary. Debate has raged in Sweden for years whether to abolish the monarchy, but in the end less than twenty percent would like to see the country without the royal family.

The struggles might be different these days, but Swedish royal history is nothing but battles.

Viking kings battled for power over the land around Lake Mälaren in the first millennium. The first king to reign over a unified Sweden, Gustav Vasa, claimed the throne in 1523 after a bloody rebellion against Kristian II of Denmark. His sons spent their lives battling eachother: King Erik XIV, the snubbed suitor of Elizabeth I of England who created a scandal by marrying a commoner instead, jailed his brother Johan who he felt was getting dangerously popular. Johan and third brother Karl then joined forces to overthrew Erik. Erik died in jail, poisoned by arsenic-laced split pea soup.

Sweden’s military glory days began in 1611 when Gustav II Adolf became king. He led Sweden through the Thirty Years War until his death at the Battle of Lützen in 1632. Swedish expansionism continued after his death and in 1718 all of Finland and Estonia, parts of Russia and patches along the German coast were under Swedish rule.

Sweden’s expansionist dreams have since long been abandoned. Sweden hasn’t been in a war for close to two hundred years, but the Swedish royal family is still looking for peace.




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