Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Title issues: Crown Princess Victoria’s firstborn

With the announcement of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden’s pregnancy one may start to think about what titles the child will receive upon its birth in March 2012. As Sweden introduced gender-neutral succession in 1980 the child will be in direct line to the throne whether it is a boy or a girl. Thus Sweden will, for the first time since 1950, have two generations of direct heirs.
The position as heir apparent to the heir apparent does not in itself bring any particular title. Prince Gustaf Adolf, the father of the current King, who predeceased both his father and grandfather and thus never became Crown Prince, was occasionally referred to as “arvprins Gustaf Adolf” (Hereditary Prince), but this was simply an informal reference, probably used to separate more clearly between him and his father, whose name was also Gustaf Adolf.
The title “arvprins” (Hereditary Prince) does not exist in Sweden, so the child will quite simply be Prince or Princess of Sweden until its mother accession, when it will become Crown Prince or Crown Princess of Sweden.
The style Royal Highness has so far always gone with the title of Prince(ss) of Sweden. Whereas Britain limits the style HRH and the title Prince(ss) to the children of monarchs and the children of sons of monarchs and Denmark limits the style HRH to the children of monarchs and heirs apparent (other princes and princesses being styled Highness), Sweden has no such limits and it is thus up to the King to decide. It will be interesting to see whether the children of Prince Carl Philip and of Princess Madeleine will be HRHs and princ(ess)es, but there can be little doubt that the eldest child of the Crown Princess will be so.
Until 1982 there was also another title for princes in line of succession: that of “Sveriges arvfurste” (between 1814 and 1905 “Sveriges och Norges arvfurste”). There is no exact English translation of this title, nor is there any good English translation. Like “arvprins” it might be translated as “Hereditary Prince”, but whereas “arvprins” is used informally to designate the heir apparent to the heir apparent, “arvfurste” was an official title used for all princes of the royal house with succession rights, except the Crown Prince.
The current King’s father was for instance “HKH prins Gustaf Adolf, Sveriges arvfurste, hertig av Västerbotten”. The title was quietly abolished in 1982, probably in connection with the birth of Princess Madeleine. As gender-neutral succession had been introduced two years previously and her elder brother had been styled “arvfurste” since being deprived of the title Crown Prince, the alternative solution would obviously have had to be to introduce the new title “arvfurstinna” for princesses with succession rights. Instead “arvfurste” was abolished, making Prince Carl Philip and Prince Bertil the last princes in history to hold this title.

But the most interesting aspect of the child’s title will doubtless be which dukedom he/she will be granted by the King. There were dukes and earls in Sweden already in the twelfth century, but after the medieval age ducal titles was first introduced in the sixteenth century by King Gustaf I (“Gustaf Vasa”) for his sons. A significant difference between then and now is that the Vasa dukedoms were also actual duchies, i.e. partly autonomous regions over which the duke presided with certain powers. Occasionally princes would hold more than one dukedom (up to three) and some, most notably the future Carl IX, used their duchies to build up their own power base which could be used against the monarch. The last prince to hold such duchies was Carl Philip, the younger brother of Gustaf II Adolf, who died in 1622.
The title was revived by Queen Christina, who in 1651 created her uncle by marriage, Count Johan Kasimir of Pfalz-Zweibrücken, Duke of Stegeborg. Upon his death the following year he was succeeded by his son Carl Gustaf, who on his accession to the Swedish throne in 1654 ceded Stegeborg to his brother Adolf Kasimir, who held it until his death in 1689.
Thereafter ducal titles were only reintroduced by King Gustaf III, who had a somewhat romantic sense of history and was particularly enamoured by his distant relatives the Vasas. In 1772 he created his brothers Carl and Fredrik Adolf dukes of Sudermania and Ostrogothia respectively, but now these were not actual duchies but simply dukedoms, i.e. empty titles which did not accord the bearers any particular powers or privileges. This was probably a result of Sweden having changed in such a way since the days of Gustaf I that it was no longer possible for the King to accord his relatives power over parts of the kingdom, but probably Gustaf III also did not trust his brothers’ abilities and loyalties enough.
After 1772 every prince of the royal house has been granted a dukedom upon his birth, with the exception of Gustaf IV Adolf’s second son, who was made Grand Prince (storfurste) of Finland. However, crown princes were at first not given dukedoms – the future Gustaf IV Adolf did not receive any dukedom upon his birth in 1778, nor did his eldest son Gustaf in 1799, Carl August upon his election in 1809 or the future Carl XIV Johan upon his election in 1810.
Carl Johan’s son, Prince Oscar, was however created Duke of Sudermania in 1811 and retained that title when he became Crown Prince in 1818. The same was the case with the future Carl XV, Gustaf V, Gustaf VI Adolf and Carl XVI Gustaf, who as crown princes all held dukedoms granted them while they were still “only” princes. The first child to be born a crown prince and also given a dukedom was Carl Philip in 1979. When his sister Victoria replaced him as Crown Princess in 1980, she too was given a dukedom.
These days a ducal title is also held by the monarch, which is evident from the fact that the royal court insists that King Carl XVI Gustaf is still Duke of Jemtia. This was not the case in earlier reigns, but it is the King’s privilege to change this, which he has obviously chosen to do. That earlier kings did not retain their dukedoms after their accession is clear from the fact that Carl XIII in 1811 gave the dukedom of Sudermania, which he had himself been given by his brother Gustaf III in 1772, to Prince Oscar (later Oscar I).
On the other hand Princes Oscar, Lennart, Sigvard, Carl Jr and Carl Johan were stripped off their dukedoms when they forfeited their succession rights upon marrying commoners, as the ducal titles were clearly linked to their former positions as princes in line of the succession. It is however worth noting that none of these dukedoms were conferred on new-born royals in the lifetimes of their former holders.
The ducal titles are chosen from the provinces of Sweden, but while some provinces have had several dukes since 1772 others have had none. Those dukedoms used since 1772 are: Sudermannia (the future Carl XIII, the future Oscar I, Prince Carl Oscar, Prince Wilhelm), Ostrogothia (Prince Fredrik Adolf, the future Oscar II, Prince Carl Jr), Smolandia (Gustaf III’s second son Prince Carl Gustaf, Prince Lennart), Scania (the future Carl XV, the future Gustaf VI Adolf), Uplandia (Prince Gustaf, Prince Sigvard), Dalecarlia (Prince August, Prince Carl Johan), Wermlandia (the future Carl XIII’s son Carl Adolf, the future Gustaf V, Prince Carl Philip), Westrogothia (Prince Carl, Crown Princess Victoria), Gotlandia (Prince Oscar), Nericia (Prince Eugen), Vestmannia (Prince Erik), Vestrobothnia (Prince Gustaf Adolf), Jemtia (Carl XVI Gustaf), Hallandia (Prince Bertil), and Helsingia and Gestricia (Princess Madeleine).
In 1858 the future Gustaf V was Duke of Norrland for a few hours on the day of his birth, but only until the cabinet objected that Norrland was not a province, but an entire region made up of several provinces and that it was thus too great an honour. The title was changed to Wermlandia later in the day and it was only in 1906 that a dukedom was created in Norrland (that of Vestrobothnia for Prince Gustaf Adolf).
The granting of dukedoms to princesses is something which was only introduced in 1980, when the new Act of Succession came into force and made Princess Victoria Crown Princess, on which occasion she was also created Duchess of Westrogothia. Her sister Madeleine, born two years later, was – uniquely for the Bernadottes – granted two dukedoms, those of Helsingia and Gestricia. The introduction of gender-neutral succession now means that men who marry royal duchesses also become dukes – Prince Daniel is Duke of Westrogothia, while it was announced when Princess Madeleine became engaged to Jonas Bergström that he would become Duke of Helsingia and Gestricia.
The choice of dukedom for the newborn prince(ss) will be for the King to decide. While Sudermannia and Ostrogothia are those most frequently used and may therefore perhaps be considered the most prestigious I have the feeling that it will not be Sudermannia. This is because Stenhammar Palace was left to the royal family by Robert von Kraemer, who in his will decided that it should be made available to a prince of the royal house, preferably a Duke of Sudermnania. It thus became the home of Prince Wilhelm, but it is rather obvious that Prince Carl Philip is now being groomed for taking over Stenhammar when he eventually finishes his agricultural education. A Duke or Duchess of Sudermannia would thus have a better claim to Stenhammar than Prince Carl Philip.
As one has so far avoided recreating the dukedoms held by ex-princes in their lifetimes I also feel certain that the dukedom of Dalecarlia, which was held by Prince Carl Johan until 1946, will not be used given that he is still alive when the child is born. Nor is it likely that the dukedom of Hallandia will be chosen as Princess Lilian is Duchess of Hallandia – of course she is strictly speaking the Dowager Duchess, but the dukedom of Dalecarlia, which was held by Prince August until his death in 1873, was only recreated for Prince Carl Johan in 1916, two years after the death of Prince August’s widow.
Some have claimed to see a pattern in that princes have been accorded the dukedom which had most recently become available, but this is not the case – Prince Carl Philip was for instance created Duke of Wermlandia in 1979 although the dukedom which had most recently become available was that of Sudermannia (in 1965).
During the past 105 years one has on several occasions chosen dukedoms which have never been held earlier – Vestrobothnia (1906), Hallandia (1912), Jemtia (1946), Helsingia and Gestricia (1982) – so choosing one of those still “unduked” might be an option. In that case, the child would be Duke or Duchess of Blechingia, Dalia, Medelpadia, Angermannia, Bahusia or Olandia.
Given the current royals’ – and perhaps particularly Crown Princess Victoria’s – fondness for Olandia (Öland), where Solliden Palace is their much-cherished summer home, I would perhaps risk putting my money on Olandia if a new dukedom is to be used, although personal connections do not seem to have been considered relevant earlier. If they go for a traditional one, I would not be surprised if they chose Ostrogothia. Ostrogothia is not only one of the most frequently used dukedoms, but it would also go well with the parents’ dukedom of Westrogothia, which would furthermore correspond to the earlier situation where the Duke and Duchess of Westrogothia (Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg) were the parents of the Duke of Ostrogothia (Prince Carl Jr).


  1. Thank you.For some strange reason I was trying some time ago to find out which dukedom was given to prince Gustaf, the son of Gustaf IV Adolf. I could not find it. Now I know why.

    Martin Rahm

  2. I must admit I sometimes wonder if the granting of a dukedom to Crown Prince Carl Philip in 1979 was a conscious break with tradition or happened because "one" was not aware of the custom that dukedoms had until then never been granted to a crown prince...


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