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
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.