If ever there was a European monarch who appears to have been born void of a personality, it’s King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. Since inheriting the throne at 27 from his grandfather, Gustaf VI Adolf, in 1972, His Majesty has glumly, stolidly, and for the most part unsmilingly presided over his constitutional duties with scarcely a hint of a heart beating in his chest. Aside from having been married to his glamorous half German, half Brazilian Queen Consort, Silvia, for the last 38 years, and having sired three children, little else was known, until recently, of Carl XVI Gustaf’s private life, other than his love of collecting vintage sports cars, and his devoted patronage of the world boy scouting movement. This perception was irretrievably shattered upon the publication of an unauthorized biography, The Reluctant Monarch, in 2010. It revealed the truth behind the King’s carefully constructed public facade. Written by investigative journalists Thomas Sjoberg, Tove Meyer and Deanne Rauscher, the book revealed that, far from being a Boy Scout behind closed doors, Carl XVI Gustaf is a sex addict whose love of call girls, mafia run strip clubs and alcohol drenched orgies has gone unabated throughout his decades long marriage. Among the many former mistresses of the King interviewed for the book, one of them, a buxom and exotically sexy half Nigerian, half Swedish former pop singer named Camilla Henemark, claimed that in the late 90’s the bespectacled monarch had fallen so madly in love with her that he promised he’d abandon his wife, family and crown, and they’d run off together to a South Pacific island. Needless to write, His Majesty didn’t keep his word. Although the initial reaction from the traditionally liberal Swedish public was to ignore the allegations, a new blackmailing scandal erupted in 2011 involving “compromising photos” of Carl XVI Gustaf and two anonymous female companions that led to such a huge drop in his approval rating that there were some calls for his abdication. When all else failed the King, his eldest daughter’s fertile womb came to the rescue. The fanfare surrounding the 2012 birth of his first grandchild and heiress presumptive drowned out all calls for His Majesty to give up the throne, and its been smooth sailing for the House of Bernadotte ever since.
The riddle of Carl XVI Gustaf’s personality lies in his austere childhood. Although his father was killed in a plane crash when he was less than a year old, the then Prince Carl wasn’t informed of his father’s death until he was 7. Such was the formality of the Swedish Royal Court at that time that neither Prince Carl nor his five older sisters were allowed to grieve the loss of their father. Its also rumored that His Majesty grew up with an undiagnosed learning disorder. If that’s true, then one could surmise that Crown Princess Victoria inherited her dyslexia, for which she was diagnosed in the mid 90’s, from her father. There are some uncharitable critics who’ve even gone so far as to blame the ossified Swedish Royal Court for being unable to treat the Crown Princess’ learning disorder affectively, and that failure being the real reason why she dropped out of college so many times and it took her more than 15 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree. By the time Prince Carl reluctantly became King at 27, he’d long since learned how to hide his emotions in public and private. By then he was also known to be an alcohol loving playboy.
His decadent reputation, however, changed in 1976 when he married Silvia Sommerlath, an attractive linguist he’d met at the Munich Olympics in 1972. He had to break with royal precedent in order to do so. Prior to the Carl XVI Gustaf ordering the royal marriage law rewritten, members of the House of Bernadotte couldn’t wed commoners without losing their royal status. Naturally elegant and outgoing, Queen Silvia was initially considered a breath of fresh air among court circles. Over time, unfortunately, her personality is rumored to have transformed into that of an arrogantly regal arriviste and remorseless perfectionist. At least one Swedish journalist intimated that the Queen’s insistence on her eldest daughter keeping her weight down was partially responsible for the eating disorder Crown Princess Victoria was diagnosed with in the late 90’s. If this is true, one could argue that Queen Silvia’s badgering of the Crown Princess over her weight problem is a case study in unforeseen consequences. After all, it was because of Her Royal Highness’ ongoing body dysmorphia that she hired a working class personal trainer from a small country town named Daniel Westling. The Crown Princess fell madly in love with him, and after a prolonged courtship the former Mr. Westling is now H.R.H. Prince Daniel, Duke of Vastergotland. It’s presumed he gets along with his august mother-in-law.
Despite appearing in public to have settled down into family life, Carl XVI Gustaf’s private addiction to call girls, alcohol drenched orgies, and strip clubs continued. During the 1996 Atlanta Olympics he nearly caused an international scandal when he was seen, escorted by bodyguards, patronizing the The Gold Club, an upmarket strip club that was closed down in 2001 after its owner was found guilty of racketeering. Shortly after that, the King made the acquaintance of a Stockholm based Serbian gangster named Mille Markovic. Among Markovic’s illicit business enterprises was a secret, underground sex club containing a jacuzzi that was located underneath Stockholm’s National Police Department. This club also contained several bedrooms where escorts would ply their trade with clients. According to Markovic, Sweden’s current monarch was at one point not only a frequent guest at his establishment, but he possessed photos of the King with two naked women at his club/brothel to prove it. Markovic made this boast both to the authors of Carl XVI Gustaf’s unauthorized biography and to at least one Swedish news agency. It was for this reason that in May of 2011, shortly after The Reluctant Monarch’s publication, Anders Lettstrom, a friend of His Majesty’s, approached associates of the Serbian gangster offering to buy the incriminating photos. Unfortunately for Mr. Lettstrom, their conversation was recorded and leaked to the press. Although he insisted that he had acted of his own free will and had not informed his sovereign and friend of his intentions prior to the meeting, the further media fallout led to calls in Parliament for at least an investigation into whether or not the King had misappropriated tax payer funds while engaging in his nocturnal excursions. There were even some calls for Carl XVI Gustaf to abdicate. The subsequent revelation that he had lied in an interview conducted by Sweden’s TT news agency, stating that he had never patronized a strip club, when it was later proven that he had attended a countless number of them, only served to further damage his credibility.
The trustworthiness of the sovereign is taken with the utmost seriousness by the Swedish government. Although the King is a constitutional monarch whose virtually powerless, his position is none the less considered hallowed, sacrosanct, and above reproach. A government inquiry that were to reveal that Carl XVI Gustaf had lied to the Swedish people, misused government funds in the form of being accompanied by tax payer funded bodyguards while engaging in his carnal excursions, and had encouraged a friend to buy off a foreign gangster trying to blackmail the monarch, would’ve undoubtedly led to His Majesty being forced to give up his throne. Fortunately for him, no such inquiry ever took place.
Part of the reason for this was the Swedish public’s initially non plussed reaction to the revelations regarding their King’s private life. Traditionally tolerant and deferential toward their Royal Family, His Majesty’s subjects’ esteem for their sovereign only
plummeted when revelations concerning his attempts to cover his tracks, i.e. by lying, became known. The Swedes were also dismayed by Carl XVI Gustaf’s possible misuse of tax payer money to fund his private activities. Like their Scandinavian counterparts, Sweden’s House of Bernadotte is palace rich, cash poor, and utterly dependent on their government appanages to finance their sumptuous lifestyle. These revelations not only had the potential of ending the King’s reign, but of causing a massive restructuring in the manner in which the Royal House is financed.
Normally one would have expected the King’s still popular Queen Consort to chime in on her beleaguered husband’s behalf and give a supportive interview. After all, her husband’s biography revealed that she’s known about his numerous affairs from the start of their marriage, but has been powerless to stop or even complain about them. Much of her rumored coldness behind closed doors can be explained as the manner in which she’s chosen to cope with the pain of her marriage. Alas, Queen Silvia was unable to publicly support her husband thanks to the revelations that came out in 2011 concerning her German industrialist father not only having been a card carrying Nazi during World War ll, but having also run a munitions factory at that time that the Nazi’s had stolen from its previous Jewish owners. Her Majesty’s unwillingness to publicly clarify her own family’s history made it impossible for her to defend her husband’s good name.
While 2011 was undoubtedly the worst year of Carl XVII Gustaf’s reign, his Annus Horibilis as Elizabeth ll might have described it, his popularity, and probably his throne, were saved by the 2012 birth of his first grand child and heiress presumptive, Princess Estelle. The subsequent gushing of the Swedish media over Their Majesties’ first grand child successfully swept away all talk of the only genuine scandal to have ever rocked Carl XVI Gustaf’s reign. The wedding of his younger, expat daughter, Princess Madeleine, last year and the New York birth of her daughter, Princess Leonore, have further eroded any talk in Sweden regarding the King’s peccadilloes. His life has seemingly gone back to normal, and one can only presume that His Majesty has become more circumspect while conducting his nocturnal adventures. Alls well that ends well, for now.