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Carl XVI Gustaf
King Carl XVI Gustaf in 2018
Preceded by Gustaf VI Adolf
Succeeded by Victoria
Personal details
Born 30 April 1946(1946-04-30) (age 76)
Haga Palace, Solna, Sweden
Spouse(s) Silvia Sommerlath (m. 1976)
Religion Church of Sweden

Template:Swedish Royal Family Carl XVI Gustaf (Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus; born 30 April 1946) is King of Sweden. He ascended the throne on the death of his grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf, on 15 September 1973.

He is the youngest child and only son of Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten, and Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. His father died on 26 January 1947 in an airplane crash in Denmark when Carl Gustaf was nine months old. Upon his father's death, he became second in line to the throne, after his grandfather, the then Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf. Following the death of his great-grandfather King Gustaf V in 1950, Gustaf Adolf ascended the throne and thus Carl Gustaf became Sweden's new crown prince and heir apparent to the throne at the age of four.

A short while after he became king in 1973, the new 1974 Instrument of Government took effect, formally stripping Carl XVI Gustaf of his remaining executive power. As a result, he no longer performs many of the duties normally accorded to a head of state, such as the formal appointment of the prime minister, signing off on legislation, and being commander-in-chief of the nation's military. The new instrument explicitly limits the king to ceremonial functions and, among other things, to be regularly informed of affairs of state. As head of the House of Bernadotte Carl Gustaf has also been able to make a number of decisions about the titles and positions of its members.

The King's heir apparent, after passage on 1 January 1980 of a new law establishing absolute primogeniture (the first such law passed in Western European history),[1] is Crown Princess Victoria, the eldest child of the King and his wife, Queen Silvia. Before the passage of that law, Crown Princess Victoria's younger brother, Prince Carl Philip, was briefly the heir apparent, as of his birth in May 1979. Carl XVI Gustaf is the longest-reigning monarch in Swedish history, having surpassed King Magnus IV's reign of 44 years and 222 days on 26 April 2018.[2]

Early life

Carl Gustaf was born on 30 April 1946 at 10:20[3] in Haga Palace in Solna, Stockholm County. He was the youngest of five children and the only son of Sweden's Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla. He was christened at the Royal Chapel on 7 June 1946 by the Archbishop of Uppsala, Erling Eidem.[4]

He was baptised in Charles XI's baptismal font, which stood on Gustav III's carpet; he lay in Charles XI's cradle with Oscar II's crown beside him.[5] The same christening gown in white linen batiste which the prince carried had been worn by his father in 1906 and would later be worn by his three children.[6] His godparents were the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Denmark (his paternal uncle and aunt), the Crown Prince of Norway, Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, the King of Sweden (his paternal great-grandfather), the Hereditary Prince of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (his maternal uncle), the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Sweden (his paternal grandfather and step-grandmother), and Count Folke and Countess Maria Bernadotte af Wisborg.[7]

Prince Carl Gustaf was also given the title of the Duke of Jämtland. His father, Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten, was killed in an airplane crash on 26 January 1947 at Copenhagen Airport. His father's death had left the nine-month-old prince second in line for the throne, behind his grandfather, then Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf. When his paternal great-grandfather Gustaf V died in 1950, the four-year-old prince became the heir apparent of Sweden.[7]

Carl Gustaf was seven years old before he was told about his father's death. He expressed his feelings about growing up without knowing his father in a speech in 2005.[8]

Youth and education

The 15-year-old Crown Prince of Sweden looks at the recently recovered 17th-century warship Vasa in 1961.

His earliest education was received privately at the Royal Palace. The young prince was then sent to Broms school, and then on to Sigtuna boarding school. After graduating from high school in 1966, Carl Gustaf completed two-and-a-half years of education in the Swedish Army, the Royal Swedish Navy, and the Swedish Air Force. During the winter 1966–1967 he took part in a round-the-world voyage with the mine-laying vessel Älvsnabben. The Crown Prince received his commission as an officer in all three services in 1968, eventually rising to the rank of captain (in the army and air force) and lieutenant (in the navy), before his ascension to the throne. He also completed his academic studies in history, sociology, political science, tax law, and economics at Uppsala University and later economics at Stockholm University.[9]

To prepare for his role as the head of state, Crown Prince Carl Gustaf followed a broad program of studies on the court system, social organisations and institutions, trade unions, and employers' associations. In addition, he closely studied the affairs of the Riksdag, Government, and Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Crown Prince also spent time at the Swedish Mission to the United Nations and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), worked at a bank in London and at the Swedish Embassy there, at the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in France, and at the Alfa Laval Company factory in France. In 1970 he represented the King at the head of the Swedish delegation to the World Exposition in Osaka, Japan. Since his youth the present monarch has been a strong supporter of the Scout Movement in Sweden.[10]

Carl Gustaf has dyslexia, as do his daughter Crown Princess Victoria and his son Prince Carl Philip.[11][12]


On 15 September 1973, Carl Gustaf became King of Sweden upon the death of his grandfather, Gustaf VI Adolf. On 19 September, he took the required regal assurance (Swedish language: Konungaförsäkran ) during an extraordinary meeting of the cabinet. Afterwards, he appeared before the parliament, diplomatic corps, court, etc. in the Hall of State at the Royal Palace where he gave a speech. Both the cabinet meeting and ceremony at the Hall were broadcast live on television. Following the ceremonies, he appeared on the balcony to acknowledge gathered crowds. At the cabinet meeting, the King declared that his name would be Carl XVI Gustaf and that his title would be King of Sweden. He adopted, "For Sweden – With the times" as his personal motto[13] (För Sverige – i tiden).[14][15]

The King and Queen of Sweden welcomed at the Kremlin by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila at the start of the King's state visit to Russia, 8 October 2001.

When Carl Gustaf ascended the throne, plans were already in place to replace the 1809 Instrument of Government, which made the King de jure chief executive. Though the King was a near-autocrat on paper, the Riksdag's authority grew steadily into the early 20th century.

The new 1974 Instrument of Government first took effect on 1 January 1975 and formally stripped the new king of most of his formal political powers, thus codifying actual practices dating from the definitive establishment of parliamentary government in 1917. The new document reduced the king a mostly representative and ceremonial role. Previously, the King formally appointed the Prime Minister, though in practice he was almost always the leader of the majority party or coalition in the Riksdag. Since the adoption of the current Instrument, a prospective prime minister is nominated by the Speaker of the Riksdag, and if that candidate is elected by the Riksdag, the Speaker signs the commission (Swedish language: förordnande ). Additionally, bills passed by the Riksdag do not need Royal assent to become law.

He is the foremost representative of Sweden and pays state visits abroad and receives those to Sweden, he opens the annual session of the Riksdag, chairs the Special Council held during a change of Government (Swedish language: skifteskonselj ), holds regular Information Councils with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet (Swedish language: informationskonselj ), chairs the meetings of the Foreign Affairs Council (Swedish language: Utrikesnämnden ), and receives Letters of Credence of foreign ambassadors to Sweden and signs those of Sweden to foreign nations. As this type of figurehead, he also voluntarily abstains from voting in Swedish elections.[16]

King Carl Gustaf holds the highest ranks in the three branches of the Swedish Armed Forces; this is due to the fact that he was, as stipulated by § 14 of the 1809 Instrument of Government in effect at the time of his accession to the throne in 1973, the Commander-in-Chief (Swedish language: Högste Befälhavare

not to be confused with the military professional holding the position of Supreme Commander) and therefore he was promoted ex officio from his earlier ranks of captain (Army & Air Force) and lieutenant (Navy), to general and admiral. Under the provisions of the Instrument of Government of 1974, which became effective on 1 January 1975, the King no longer holds this constitutionally-mandated position, but he kept his ranks à la suite since he no longer has any military command authority, except over His Majesty's Military Staff.

Worldwide, Carl XVI Gustaf is probably best known as the presenter of the Nobel Prizes each year; the first Nobel laureate who received the prize from his hands was Leo Esaki.[17] He also hands over the Polar Music Prize. The King holds honorary doctoral degrees from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Royal Institute of Technology, the Stockholm School of Economics and from the Åbo Akademi University in Finland.

In December 2020, the king said Sweden's approach to dealing with COVID-19 had failed. Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said that "the fact that so many have died can't be considered as anything other than a failure,".[18]

Personal interests

Royal monogram

The King is passionate about the environment, technology, agriculture, trade, and industry. Like many members of the Swedish royal family, he has a keen interest in automobiles. He owns several Porsche 911s, a car model which is said to be a particular favourite of his, as well as a vintage Volvo PV444, a Ferrari 456M GT, an AC Cobra and other cars.[19] The first pictures taken of him and his future wife were of them sitting in his Porsche 911. In the summer of 2005 he was involved in a traffic accident in Norrköping. The accident was described as a "fender bender", with no serious personal injuries claimed. Nevertheless, the incident caused national headlines.[20] The King and Queen of Sweden frequently travel to the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, including in 2014, 2016 and 2018.[21][22]


The King is the honorary chairman of the World Scout Foundation, and often participates in Scout activities both in Sweden and abroad. He regularly visits World Scout Jamborees, for instance the 1979 Dalajamb World Jamboree International Encampment hosted by Sweden, the 2002 World Jamboree held in Sattahip, Thailand, and the 100th Anniversary of World Scouting 2007 World Jamboree held in Hylands Park, England.[23] He also attended the 1981 National Scout Jamboree in Virginia, United States, and was awarded the Bronze Wolf, the only distinction of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, awarded by the World Scout Committee for exceptional services to world Scouting, in 1982. He also attended the 22nd World Scout Jamboree. He gave a speech on 6 August 2011 at the closing ceremony with more than 40,000 people watching. The band Europe also performed for him singing "The Final Countdown". King Carl Gustaf made an appearance at the 2013 Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree in West Virginia.[24] Together with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, King Carl Gustaf has supported the Messengers of Peace programme.

Use of remaining power

A new Swedish double duchy was created for Princess Madeleine (left) in 1982, whereas her husband in 2013 declined to become a Swedish citizen, prince and duke and is called Herr Christopher O'Neill in Sweden

So empowered as head of the House of Bernadotte,[25] King Carl Gustaf since he was enthroned in 1973 has made a number of personal decisions regarding the titles and positions of relatives and family members, including the demotion of a sister, elevation of several commoners to royalty, rebuff of an elderly uncle's wishes and the creation of new Swedish titles and duchies.

  • 1974: his sister Christina married a non-royal Swedish man and Carl Gustaf followed the example which his grandfather and predecessor had set for two of Christina's older sisters with like marriages, so Christina was removed from the Royal House, no longer a Royal Highness and was given the courtesy title Princess Christina, Mrs. Magnuson (a special non-royal, non-noble style first invented in 1953 by King Haakon VII of Norway for his granddaughter Ragnhild).
  • 1976: his own choice, taking advantage of his constitutional prerogative as king when he married a non-royal German-Brazilian woman, saw her created Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden.
  • 1976: his paternal uncle Bertil (later that year) married the non-royal British woman who had lived with Bertil for decades, and (with Bertil's titles) Carl Gustaf created her a Royal Highness Princess of Sweden and Duchess of Halland.
  • 1977: his daughter Victoria was born, and in 1980 Carl Gustaf created her Duchess of Västergötland (which has had duchesses before).
  • 1979: his son Carl Philip was born, and Carl Gustaf created him Duke of Värmland (which has had dukes before).
  • 1982: his daughter Madeleine was born, and Carl Gustaf created a new duchy for her as Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland.
  • 1983: his paternal uncle Sigvard, since 1934 no longer Prince of Sweden because of a non-royal marriage to a German woman, supported by legal experts[26] announced his own title as Prince Sigvard Bernadotte, 18 years later clearly citing a great-uncle Prince Oscar Bernadotte's title as his main precedent;[27] however, Sigvard died in 2002 with Carl Gustaf never having responded to his uncle's statement, and with the Royal Court of Sweden consistently refusing to honor it.
  • 2003: his paternal grandfather's first cousin Carl died, and Carl Gustaf formally recognized his Belgian title by allowing Prince Carl Bernadotte on the gravestone at the Royal Cemetery which is owned by the king; in 2014 he did the same there, allowing Carl's widow's name as Princess Kristine Bernadotte when she died.
  • 2010: his daughter Victoria married a non-royal Swede whom Carl Gustaf created a Royal Highness Prince of Sweden and (with her title) Duke of Västergötland.
  • 2012: his granddaughter Estelle was born and created Duchess of Östergötland (which has had duchesses before).
  • 2013: his daughter Madeleine married a non-royal British American who declined Swedish citizenship, and Carl Gustaf gave him the special courtesy title of Herr (with a capital h).
  • 2014: his granddaughter Leonore was born and created Duchess of Gotland (which also previously has been a duchy).
  • 2015: his son Carl Philip married a non-royal Swede whom Carl Gustaf created a Royal Highness Princess of Sweden and (with the son's title) Duchess of Värmland.
  • 2015: his grandson Nicolas was born, and Carl Gustaf created a new duchy for him as Duke of Ångermanland.
  • 2016: his grandson Oscar was born and created Duke of Scania (which has had dukes before).
  • 2016: his grandson Alexander was born (later that year) and created Duke of Södermanland (which has had dukes before).
  • 2017: his grandson Gabriel was born and created Duke of Dalarna (which has had dukes before).
  • 2018: his granddaughter Adrienne was born, and Carl Gustaf created a new duchy for her as Duchess of Blekinge.
  • 2019: Carl Gustaf issued a statement rescinding the royal status of his grandchildren Leonore, Nicolas, Alexander, Gabriel and Adrienne in an effort to more strictly associate Swedish royalty to the office of the head of state; the five are still to be styled as princes/princesses and dukes/duchesses of their provinces, and they remain in the line of succession to the throne.[28][29][30]

Marriage and family

King Carl XVI Gustaf with Queen Silvia at the royal wedding of their daughter Victoria

The King married Silvia Sommerlath, whose father was German and whose mother was Brazilian, and who had grown up in both countries. They met at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, where she was an interpreter and host. The wedding was held on 19 June 1976 at Stockholm Cathedral, the ceremony performed by the Archbishop of Uppsala, Olof Sundby.[31] The wedding was preceded the previous evening by a Royal Variety Performance, at which, among other performances, the Swedish musical group ABBA gave one of the first performances of "Dancing Queen", as a tribute to Sweden's future queen.[32] The King and his family moved to Drottningholm Palace west of Stockholm in 1980. He and the Queen have maintained their business offices at the Royal Palace of Stockholm.

King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia have three children and seven grandchildren:

  • Crown Princess Victoria, Duchess of Västergötland (born 14 July 1977 in Karolinska University Hospital). On 19 June 2010, she married Daniel Westling, and they are informally styled as the Crown Princess Couple. They have two children:
    • Princess Estelle, Duchess of Östergötland (born 23 February 2012 at Karolinska University Hospital)
    • Prince Oscar, Duke of Skåne (born 2 March 2016 at Karolinska University Hospital)
  • Prince Carl Philip, Duke of Värmland (born 13 May 1979 at Stockholm Palace). On 13 June 2015, he married Sofia Hellqvist, and they are informally styled as the Prince Couple. They have two children:
    • Prince Alexander, Duke of Södermanland (born 19 April 2016 in Danderyd Hospital)
    • Prince Gabriel, Duke of Dalarna (born 31 August 2017 at Danderyd Hospital)
  • Princess Madeleine, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland (born 10 June 1982 at Drottningholm Palace). On 8 June 2013, she married Christopher O'Neill, and they are informally styled as the Princess Couple. They have three children:
    • Princess Leonore, Duchess of Gotland (born 20 February 2014 in New York City)
    • Prince Nicolas, Duke of Ångermanland (born 15 June 2015 in Danderyd Municipality)
    • Princess Adrienne, Duchess of Blekinge (born 9 March 2018 in Danderyd Municipality)

Prince Carl Philip was born the heir apparent. However, a constitutional reform, which was already under way at the time of his birth, made his elder sister, Victoria, the heir apparent and Crown Princess of Sweden on 1 January 1980, according to the principles of absolute primogeniture, which Sweden was the first recognised monarchy to adopt.[33] King Carl Gustaf objected after the reform, not to the succession by females but to the fact that his son lost the position and title which he had had since birth.[34]

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Title and styles

  • 30 April 1946 – 7 June 1946: His Royal Highness Prince Carl Gustaf of Sweden
  • 7 June 1946 – 29 October 1950: His Royal Highness Prince Carl Gustaf of Sweden, Duke of Jämtland
  • 29 October 1950 – 15 September 1973: His Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Sweden, Duke of Jämtland
  • 15 September 1973 – present: His Majesty The King of Sweden

King Gustaf VI Adolf was the last who used the style "By the Grace of God King of the Swedes, the Goths/Geats and the Wends" (med Guds Nåde Sveriges, Götes och Wendes Konung; Latin language: Dei Gratia Suecorum, Gothorum et Vandalorum Rex). This traditional title had been in use since the establishment of the hereditary monarchy in 1544. Carl XVI Gustaf instead chose the plain and simple title "King of Sweden" (Sveriges Konung), thereby ending a centuries-old tradition.[35]

Regnal name

There have not actually been sixteen kings of Sweden named Carl/Charles. The numeral is a continuation of a tradition inspired by fantasy kings created by 16th-century writer Johannes Magnus.[36]


On his creation as Duke of Jämtland, Carl XVI Gustaf was granted an achievement of arms which featured the arms of Jämtland in base (these arms can be seen on his stallplate as knight of the Danish Order of the Elephant at Frederiksborg Palace). Since his accession to the throne, he has used the greater coat of arms of Sweden although he is still associated with the ducal title of Jämtland.

Coat of arms Kronprins Carl Gustav av Sverige.svg
Arms of Carl Gustaf as Duke of Jämtland from 1950 to his accession
Great coat of arms of Sweden.svg
Arms of Carl XVI Gustaf used since his accession to the throne.



  •  Sweden: Recipient of the 90th Birthday Medal of King Gustaf V[37]
  •  Sweden: Recipient of the 85th Birthday Medal of King Gustaf VI Adolf[37]
  •  Sweden: Recipient of the Wedding Medal of Crown Princess Victoria to Daniel Westling[38]




  • World Organization of the Scout Movement: Bronze Wolf Award[59]
  •  Japan: Golden Pheasant Award of the Scout Association of Japan (1980)[60]
  •  Philippines: Mount Makiling Award[61]

Honorary military positions


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This article does not contain any citations or references. Please improve this article by adding a reference. For information about how to add references, see Template:Citation.


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  2. "King Carl XVI Gustaf now Sweden's longest-reigning monarch". 26 April 2018. 
  3. Rudberg, Erik, ed (1947) (in sv). Svenska dagbladets årsbok 1946. Stockholm: Svenska Dagbladet. p. 43. 283647. 
  4. Lundgren, R.; Larsson, A.; Jaeger, A.; Engman, A.; Malmberg, A.; Fotoreportage, S.; Bild, A. (2017) (in se). Sibylla: En biografi. Albert Bonniers Förlag. p. 22-IA52. ISBN 978-91-0-017023-3. Retrieved June 17, 2020. 
  5. Schiller, Harald (1970). Olsson, Nils. ed (in sv). Händelser man minns: en krönika i ord och bild 1920–1969. Stockholm: Samverkande bokförlags försäljningsorganisation. p. 1946/5. 569745. 
  6. (in sv) Anno. [19]82. Malmö: Corona. 1983. p. 39. ISBN 91-85556-16-5. 3759331. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Kungens liv i 60 år" (in sv). Royal Court of Sweden. 
  8. Orange, Richard (2011-10-29). "King Carl XVI Gustaf: profile" (in en-GB). ISSN 0307-1235. 
  9. "Biography – Sveriges Kungahus" (in en). 
  10. "10 facts about King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden" (in en). 30 April 2014. 
  11. "Toinis metod hjälpte Carl Philip" (in sv). Expressen. 18 September 1997. p. 109. "En dyslektiker kan lära sig att läsa och skriva efter bara 50 timmars träning. Det säger nu Toini Prim, en av Sveriges ledande dyslexiexperter. Prim har tidigare bland annat hjälpt till att behandla prins Carl Philip." 
  12. "Med Drottningholmsom lekplats" (in sv). Dagens Nyheters bilaga. 16 May 2010. p. 25. "'Rätt snart upptäcktes att Victoria hade ärvt faderns dyslexi och hon kämpade hårt för att hålla jämna steg med klasskamraterna." 
  13. "The Royal Family: H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf". Royal Court of Sweden. 
  14. "Kungafamiljen: H.M. Konung Carl XVI Gustaf" (in sv). Royal Court of Sweden. 
  15. Altman, Lawrence K. (20 September 1973). "New King Begins Reign in Sweden". 
  16. "Monarkens uppgifter" (in sv). Royal Court of Sweden. 
  17. 江崎玲於奈『限界への挑戦―私の履歴書』(日本経済新聞出版社)2007年
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  19. Enqvist, Victoria (26 April 2006). "För Sverige – i bilen" (in sv). 
  20. "Swedish king crashes car". 25 August 2005. 
  21. "The King and Queen visit the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi". Royal Court of Sweden. 
  22. Steve Reed (23 February 2018). "The king, the demon and a Swedish Olympic biathlon win". The Associated Press. 
  23. "The King of Sweden at the Jamboree". 
  24. Wilkes, Collin (22 July 2013). "Jambopalooza, summit hikes – 'experience of a lifetime'". Durham, North Carolina: Paxton Media Group. 
  25. Bramstång, Gunnar (1990) (in sv). Tronrätt, bördstitel och hustillhörighet. ISBN 91-544-2081-4. 
  26. Article by Petter Ovander in Aftonbladet 14 May 2001 quoting three attorneys
  27. Article by Anita Bergmark in Svenska Dagbladet 2 May 2002
  28. Swedish communiqué of king's decree 7 October 2019
  29. "Communiqué on changes to The Royal House – Sveriges Kungahus". 
  30. "Sweden's king removes five of his grandchildren from royal house" (in en). 7 October 2019. 
  31. Kilborn, Peter (20 June 1976). "Swedish Monarch Marries German as 150,000 Turn Out". The New York Times. p. 3. 
  33. SOU 1977:5 Kvinnlig tronföljd, p.16.
  34. Peterson, Claes (24 November 2003). "Kungen: Grundlagen är lustig". 
  35. "Kungl. Maj:ts kungörelse (1973:702) med anledning av konung Gustaf VI Adolfs frånfälle;" (in sv). Svensk författningssamling. 19 September 1973.${HTML}=sfst_lst&${OOHTML}=sfst_dok&${SNHTML}=sfst_err&${BASE}=SFST&${TRIPSHOW}=format=THW&BET=1973:702$. 
  36. Westrin, Theodor, ed (1910) (in sv). Nordisk familjebok: konversationslexikon och realencyklopedi (Ny, rev. och rikt ill. ed.). Stockholm: Nordisk familjeboks förl.. p. 943f. 8072220. 
  37. 37.0 37.1 Leif Påhlsson (1988). "Svenska utmärkelsetecken" (in sv). pp. 250–251. 
  38. "Kronprinsessans och Herr Daniel Westlings bröllopsminnesmedalj" (in sv). Nationalencyklopedin. 
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  49. "Par Viestura ordeņa piešķiršanu – Latvijas Vēstnesis". 24 March 2014. 
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Explanatory footnotes


  • (in sv) Ordenskalender. Sweden: Sekreterareämbetet vid Kungl. 1959. OCLC 64237341. 

External links

Carl XVI Gustaf
House of Bernadotte
Born: 30 April 1946
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Gustaf VI Adolf
King of Sweden
Heir apparent:
Swedish royalty
Preceded by
Gustaf Adolf
Crown Prince of Sweden
Title next held by
Carl Philip

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