Monday, 16 May 2011

King Harald and King Carl Gustaf on the question of retirement

During his recent state visit to Slovenia 74-year-old King Harald was asked by a Slovenian journalist if he had any plans to retire. The King replied that he often gets this question, but that he intends to “continue in my job” as long as he is well enough to do so, which he currently is. The King stressed that this also concerns the needs of the rest of the family: “My son and daughter-in-law still have young children. I think they should be allowed to be parents a little longer. They will soon enough get a lot of responsibility”. He added that he had made a deal with his children that they should give him “a hint when they think I have become completely nuts”.
While this sounds like a sensible answer to the question many noted that the King did not rule out the possibility of retirement, such as Queen Margrethe of Denmark habitually does when asked if she plans to abdicate any time soon.
The King of Sweden was asked a similar question in an interview with the news agency TT (external link) on the occasion of his 65th birthday on 30 April. 65 is the age of retirement in Sweden, but King Carl Gustaf said he had no plans “to feed the birds yet”, adding that it is part of the arrangement that “the monarch performs his duties as long as he has his full mental powers”.
At the same time an opinion poll conducted by SIFO for SVT (external link) showed that his people is divided over that same question: of the 1,000 people who were asked on 18-20 April, 45 % think he should “continue as king as long as he wants and has the strength to”, while 37 % think he should “retire and abdicate in favour of Crown Princess Victoria”, with 17 % uncertain.
King Carl Gustaf’s 65th birthday was by the way celebrated by the usual appearance at the Royal Palace’s Outer Courtyard and, according to media reports, by a private dinner at Haga Palace hosted by Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, which was also attended by Prince Carl Philip and his girlfriend Sofia Hellqvist, the King’s sisters and their families and the King’s uncle and aunt, Carl Johan and Gunnila Bernadotte.


  1. However, upon celebrating the King of Sweden on his 65th birthday at the Royal Palace's Ouer Courtyard, one officer from Livdragonbataljonen, announcing the program for the celebrations over a loudspeaker, repeatedly called the King "Her Majesty". It is a worrying sign of Sweden being so out of touch with its heritage and the function of rituals and pageantry, that a Commissioned Officer in the King's own life regiment is not capable of referring to the Head of State properly. It is the same with Prince Daniel's "HRH": journalists repeatedly talk about Prince Daniel in 3rd person singular as "Ers Kungliga Höghet", when it should be "Hans Kungliga Höghet". The words have lost their meaning.

  2. The presenter's use of the term "Her Majesty the King" has been widely reported, but I refuse to believe that he actually thought this was the correct term - certainly he knew that the King is a man and not a woman.

    But the use of wrong styles and titles for members of the royal family seems not to be limited to Sweden. It is not long since I read in a British paper about "Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother" (I think it was a family tree in connection with the wedding) and today the leader of Oslo's 17 May committee shouted "Long live His Majesty the King the Fifth [sic!] and the royal family" at the beginning of the parade. But at least Karen Marie Ellefsen, NRK's commentator on the National Day, has at least learnt that it is "His Majesty" and not "His Royal Highness" as she has earlier called the King.


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