Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Carl XVI Gustaf denies allegations about his private life

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.


  1. Hi Trond (or Mr. Norén Isaksen - I’m happy to address you however you’d like) -

    You may or may not remember that I used to comment on your blog; unfortunately, in the past year or so it’s proven to be impossible – the blog no longer accepts the comments I submit, although I've continued to read and enjoy your posts. (Perhaps you might have an idea what the problem is?) But I recently found that for whatever reason, I am still allowed to submit comments when I use a different computer.

    Hence I have a belated question for you, if you have the time, regarding the biography from last fall. Unfortunately I haven’t had the time to read all of the many articles regarding it and the more recent allegations. However, I do recall that one news report (I believe it was in Expressen, although I’ve lost the link) described allegations in the book that King Carl Gustaf dispatched his government bodyguards to break into women’s homes to steal compromising pictures, as well as to threaten and intimidate these women into maintaining their silence.

    As I do not speak Swedish, it’s possible that the automatic translator erred or that I misread the article. Thus my question to you, as you’ve read the biography – are these allegations indeed contained in the book, and if so, when and how often are these incidents said to have taken place, and what evidence is available?

  2. I read all comments before they are published and I have not withheld any comments from you. As I have not received them it must mean that they have not been succesfully posted and given that you say you are able to post comments from another computer I gather the problem must lie with the computer and not with the blog.

    I am afraid I cannot give an exact answer to your question. What I do remember is that there is something about someone removing a film with unwanted pictures from a woman, but I do not remember details such as who, where or when. To find out I would have to read the book anew and given that this is a silly book and that sources are very rarely given I do not think I will spend my time on doing that.

  3. I appreciate your reply, although given that it was posted so many days after my comment I only happened upon it when looking through old entries in your blog. May I ask whether I said something that led you to hesitate to reply to me? I of course never mean to offend you.

    Regarding the comment issue, what I meant to ask was whether you've altered the technical settings, perhaps in some way that renders the comment form incompatible with certain browsers, given that I'd never had any difficulties commenting on the same computer in the past.

    As for the book, you are obviously in a better position than I am to judge its merits. However, I must strongly disagree with you that it's "silly" to report on abuses or even potential abuses of power, especially when they concern a head of state. Such abuses do happen and do cause very real harm to their victims.

    Truthfully, I find it shocking - if my understanding of the Expressen article was correct - that the Swedish press buried the allegations. Burglary and threats of physical harm are surely crimes as well as flagrant abuses of power, and ordering government bodyguards to commit these acts is surely an abuse of government resources.

    I do not think it's tantamount to gossiping or rushing to judgment to say that potential crimes ought to be investigated, especially when they concern powerful public figures such as a head of state.

  4. No, I have not altered the technical settings in any way.

    This blog is not my main occupation, but something I do in spare moments. Sometimes I have a lot of other things to do, sometimes I am away, sometimes people ask questions which I am not immediately able to reply to without checking books or other sources. Thus it happens occasionally that some comments are only replied to after some days.

    In this particular case the delay was partly due to the fact that I was away for some days, that I had a lot of other things to do and that I had to dig out the book to see if I could find that particular claim you were asking about, which I did not succeed in although I do remember that there was some such claim mentioned.

    Before you "strongly disagree" with me "that it's 'silly' to report on abuses or even potential abuses of power" you might care to note that I have said no such thing. It is the book "Carl XVI Gustaf - Den motvillige monarken" in itself that I have described as silly. Please refrain from ascribing to me opinions I have not expressed.

  5. I realize that you have a life outside of blogging, and in this case I only asked whether I had offended you because I saw that you had already replied to several other people's comments which were posted after mine.

    I very much appreciate your taking the time to check the book in response to my question. I was not aware that you often check sources before answering comments, and considering the time that must take, I must express my thanks.

    I'm sorry I misunderstood your comment about the book being "silly." But I'm surprised that you would think I was deliberately ascribing false opinions to you (seeing as you ask me to refrain from doing so). I cannot recall being hostile towards you in any comment I have made, so I'm not sure why you would think I would do that.

    I know that the book has been much criticized as being of low quality. But it seems to me that allegations about abuse of power are a serious matter and deserve to be reported and investigated, even if the book is otherwise "silly."

  6. Comments are not necessarily replied to in chronological order; when I have the time to reply also depends on how much work the reply demands. In this case it meant that I in between a lot of other things had to dig out the book and look through it to see if I could find what you were asking for, something which I did not immediately have the time to do.

    No, I have never experienced you as hostile in any way, but when you write that you "must strongly disagree with you that it's 'silly' to report on abuses or even potential abuses of power, especially when they concern a head of state" I can hardly interpret that differently than that you claim I have described this as silly, an opinion I have never expressed and which has thus been wrongly ascribed to me.

  7. Thank you for taking the time to look for an answer to my question.

    Yes, when you referred to the book as being silly I assumed that you were referring to the allegations within it, since that was the subject of my question. Evidently that was an incorrect assumption, and I will try to read your words differently in the future. But it was an honest misunderstanding, and I was not trying to falsely ascribe any opinions to you.


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