The reign of Carl XVI Gustaf reached its lowest point ever yesterday when the King of Sweden felt obliged to grant the news agency TT an interview to talk about the scandalous allegations about his private life which have recently undermined his position rather seriously.
The journalist Tomas Bengtsson asked the King about the claims made in the book Carl XVI Gustaf - Den motvillige monarken that he supposedly had visited strip clubs in Atlanta in 1996 and Bratislava in 2008, which the King clearly denies. When asked if he has ever visited strip clubs or sex clubs he is rather vague, replying that it is a matter of definition and that there are several restaurants were the waitresses are scantily clad, like at the German Oktoberfest. He is again very clear when he denies explicitly that he has ever visited clubs where illegal activities take place.
He does not know if he has ever taken part in parties with criminals, arguing that he cannot possibly be familiar with the backgrounds of every single guest at every event he has attended. This, he says, is an issue for the hosts, as are the so-called “coffee girls”.
When it comes to the allegedly compromising photos his friend Anders Lettström recently tried to buy from a gangster, the King states that there cannot possibly exist any such photos.
The King is not willing to comment on the allegations made in the aforementioned book last year and rejects the idea that he has put himself in a position to be blackmailed. His possible abdication is not a relevant question. He did not know anything about Anders Lettström’s contacts with gangsters, he insists, and has now cut all ties to Lettström, one of his oldest friends. He has neither met nor spoken on the telephone to those other of his friends who appear in the book after its publication last autumn.
He acknowledges that these allegations hurt the people’s confidence in him and in the monarchy and even Sweden, which he vows to repair by working twice as hard in the future.
King Carl Gustaf appeared to be clearly uncomfortable during the interview, which is understandable given that no monarch before him has ever had to sit down to such an interview to answer allegations about his private life. He did not always speak very clearly and at times seemed to be confused about what he had earlier commented on or not.
For instance he seemed to think he had commented on the “coffee girls” when he addressed the press pack in connection with a hunt last autumn, but this is not the case. Back then he only said that he had spoken with the Queen and his family and now wanted to “turn the page”, which many took as a confirmation that the claims made in the book were actually correct but that the King now wanted to move on.
Generally one can say that when King Carl Gustaf is so absolutely sure that he has never set in these clubs he might well have said so in November and saved himself and the monarchy from half a year of speculation. One may also wonder why his friend was willing to enter into negotiations with criminals to buy compromising photos if it is absolutely impossible that any such pictures exist.
Now that the King has explicitly denied the allegations he may hope that the story will die away. However, he has also himself upped the ante and if there should now appear photos or other proof which go against his assurances he will have a real problem. Thomas Sjöberg, the main author of the “biography” has already called the King a bad liar and somehow I have the feeling that this story is not yet over.