In honor of His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden’s 40th anniversary on the throne, the king gave a brief interview late last month. Here is what he had to say per Kungahuset (rough translation):
“One late afternoon in late January His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf is in his office at the Royal Palace, and looks back on years as regent. In 2013, the king will be head of state for 40 years, and the planning for the anniversary have been going for several months.
Has the past 40 years as head of state passed quickly for you?
– It’s been surprisingly fast.
What does the king of hope for his anniversary?
– The good things… memorable. It is a platform to stand on to look ahead, but also to look back. 40 years is vastly many years and so much has happened. In the belief access, I was relatively young, 27 years old, and when you see the world with a 27-year-old’s experience. Now, after 40 years, so I have some experience. And, the world has changed on many levels, in many ways, even in the proximity of the closest family circle, in Sweden and in the world. It is sometimes said jokingly that everything was better before, but it’s not. The world has in many ways become a better place to live for most, but there is still great poverty and distress in the world.
What was the first thing you did as a new ruler?
– I was 27 years and the organization was tailored to my grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf, who was then 92 years. At that time, it was my grandfather and Riksmarskalken Stig Ericson, who led the work here at the castle. To get a more open discussion, I set up a Cooperation Council, which consisted of a group of talented and experienced people, men and women with backgrounds in business, defense and culture. I feel that the court has a greater transparency today. There has been a tremendous change and transformation is ongoing. When it comes to the head of state’s role as it’s defined in the Constitution.
Did you discuss this with King Gustaf VI Adolf?
– No, not at all. Sometime, when I was in my twenties told my grandfather to me, ‘look at life with a certain sense of humor.’ Obviously I treat both people and situations seriously. It’s about sometimes able to produce life’s positive and humorous sides. It was his way of saying that the mission is not as heavy as maybe he was afraid I would experience it.
How does the king, for 40 years, constantly have had to consider how the king says to be received?
– Yes, I have not always done so well at that point, but joking aside, perhaps it is something we should all think about: what we say, in what situation, to whom, and so on.
The king adopted at his accession motto ‘For Sweden – With the Times’.
What has been the biggest challenges for you in order to operate in line with that motto?
– I have tried to live by it by sensing the currents of society and the demands, needs and expectations of a monarch in time. For me it is important to live in harmony with developments in Sweden and all over the changing world around us that we are actually part of.
How does the king fit in his role as a unifying force in the country?
– In today’s globalized world, I feel that my role is even more important. That I’m in the EU and in the world, but particularly in Sweden, which currently consists of citizens with a variety of backgrounds, can show what Sweden stands for and as neutral and apolitical head of state to be a unifying force.
Following the King’s 40th anniversary as head of state travels royal couple throughout Sweden and visiting all 21 counties. What are your hopes for the king during his County visits?
– The trips are a great opportunity for a year to get an overall impression of the development and future of the various counties. We hope to meet as many people as possible. Women and men, young and old, new and old Swedes, all of which contribute to shaping our country.
What a great question, societal issues will king to meet in county trips?
– Given my interest in environmental issues, it will be certainly a part of the program. In addition, I hope that we get an insight into the counties’ infrastructure, labor, business, culture, health, education and care.
The king has traveled through Sweden for 40 years, what follows king up significant events and changes in the counties?
– Each year, we conduct a series of county visits. Sometimes we come back to see what had happened to a new industry, a tourist facility or an integration project. I want to show my commitment to their ideas.
King has over 40 years as regent, on behalf of the Government, made state visits worldwide. These are a couple of trips a year, which gives an extensive list of countries visited, with countless meetings with people and experiences of different cultures. What is the image of Sweden King meets during trips?
– Sweden is the country a good reputation in the world around us. It is something that the Queen and I often experience during our state visit. Both the country and the people are perceived very positively. Our services and products are something we should be proud of. Sweden respected as a nation and it is with pleasure and pride that I represent our country. For example, noted Nobel Prize much and it helps to show up Sweden as a nation that promotes education and science. In recent times there has been much buzz around Palme home and his name and international acts will often speaking when we visit other countries, such as Africa and Latin America.
Has the image of Sweden changed over time?
– The Swedish classic industry is not left in the same way as before. Today, companies internationally cross-owned and it is such difficult to make industrial exhibitions and say “look this we produce.” But the technical skills, knowledge and skillful craftsmanship, we have left. Swedish research and innovations are often mentioned abroad.
Has the state visits in order to establish personal contacts have increased in importance?
– There is and has been extremely important. We are a small nation and need to cooperate across borders. As a result of the good reputation that Sweden has since long it is easy to build relationships.
When the king thinks of these trips what is most rewarding?
– When I manage to “open doors” for others and when we during state visits are received in a new country, a new culture and may represent Sweden, then I feel a great pride and humility before the situation and mission. Or when I’m in the sports competitions hear the national anthem and see the Swedish flag, it feels very strong.
How is the king of all travel and meeting people? Leads all meetings to action and commitment?
– Yes. We prepare ourselves by listening to diplomats from the State Department that tells about the country we are visiting. They provide information about the country’s culture, history and the political situation, which gives us a deeper insight. Once in place, we get to be part of interesting meetings and see a lot. In this way, we share many impressions, even if the visit is short. It makes us very involved and we get an understanding of the country or place that we have visited.
With 40 years of experience as a head of state, what are the greatest challenges for the future?
– They are numerous. I look forward with great optimism, but also with some concern. It is incredibly exciting and hopeful with technological developments that provide great opportunities for mankind in the future. My concern for environmental issues and the challenge to leave our fragile planet in good condition for future generations. However, we take advantage of our opportunities, all the positive and hopeful I meet during my travels in this country and abroad, I am convinced that together we can a promising future.”
Photo courtesy of Kungahuset