The monarchy of Sweden

HM The King's monogram. Photo: Lisa Raihle Rehbäck/The Royal Court of Sweden

The Swedish monarchy dates back more than a thousand years, and represents both continuity and tradition. Over the centuries, its role has changed in line with the rest of society. Our current king is Sweden's longest reigning monarch, and his motto is "For Sweden – With the Times".

Sweden's form of government

Sweden's form of government

The Swedish monarchy dates back more than a thousand years, and represents both continuity and tradition. Over the centuries, its role has changed in line with the rest of society. Our current king is Sweden's longest reigning monarch, and his motto is "For Sweden – With the Times".

Sweden is a constitutional monarchy, which means that HM The King is the country's Head of State and his duties are regulated by law. The fact that Sweden should have a king or a queen regnant as its head of state is established in the Instrument of Government – one of the kingdom's constitutional laws. As a non-political Head of State, the monarch is a unifying representative of Sweden and a symbol of the country.

A Change of Government Council chaired by HM The King at the Royal Palace in 2022. The Council was attended by The Crown Princess, the Speaker of the Riksdag and the new Government.

A Change of Government Council chaired by HM The King at the Royal Palace in 2022. The Council was attended by The Crown Princess, the Speaker of the Riksdag and the new Government. Photo: Ingemar Lindewall/The Royal Court of Sweden

Sweden has been a continuous monarchy since the 10th century, making it unique in the world with its historical and cultural heritage stretching back more than a thousand years. Although the role of the Head of State has changed with the development of society, the monarchy represents continuity and tradition – which is of growing importance in a rapidly changing world. Sweden's current king, Carl XVI Gustaf, ascended to the throne on 15 September 1973 and is the country's 74th monarch.

The King carries out his duties in accordance with his motto, "For Sweden – With the Times", which involves promoting Swedish interests and being attentive to the many efforts made in and for Sweden.

Full cognatic succession

The line of succession is determined by the order of succession, which is one of Sweden's four constitutional laws. Having had an agnatic (male) line of succession since the beginning of the 18th century, a fully cognatic line of succession was introduced in 1980. As a result of this change – which Sweden was the first country to introduce – the monarch's oldest child inherits the throne.

The King's duties

The King's duties

As Head of State, The King primarily has state ceremonial and official duties, and can shape his own duties within the framework set out in the Instrument of Government.

The King's duties include:

  • Opening the Parliamentary Session at the request of the Speaker of the Riksdag. This normally happens every September, and marks the beginning of the parliamentary working year. The ceremony is held in the Riksdag's assembly hall, where The King also gives a speech to the members of the Riksdag.
  • Chairing meetings that take place at the Royal Palace. A Change of Government Council is held when a new Government takes up its duties. Councils of State are held regularly to give ministers the opportunity to inform the Head of State and the heir to the throne about the Government's policies. In the event of a birth within the Royal Court, The King also convenes the Government for a council to announce the child's name and title.
  • Chairing the Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs, a body for foreign policy deliberations between the Government and the Riksdag. The Council meets at the Royal Palace.
  • Carrying out state visits. The King represents Sweden during incoming and outgoing state visits. State visits build personal relationships between countries, and aim to increase exchanges within various areas. They are planned in consultation with the Government, in particular the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and signify good relations between the nations involved. State visits are also important for raising awareness of Sweden abroad. Royal involvement gives state visits a ceremonial element, and opens many doors for promoting Swedish interests abroad.
  • Each year, the King receives 30 to 40 newly appointed foreign ambassadors at formal audiences. As part of this traditional ceremony, the ambassador travels in a carriage from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Royal Palace and is received there by the Head of State during a formal audience. According to international practice, incoming ambassadors cannot formally work in a country until they have submitted their credentials to the host country's head of state. These credentials are a form of authorisation issued by a country's head of state for the ambassador who has been appointed to represent his or her country abroad. The King also receives ambassadors at farewell audiences when their posting in Sweden comes to an end.

Promoting Swedish interests

The King works to promote Swedish interests and has an extensive representative programme in Sweden. This is planned based on both The King's own initiatives and a large number of requests to attend various events within different sectors of society. Other members of the Royal Family actively support The King in his role as Head of State.

The King's official programme activities span a range of different areas:

  • foreign relations with representatives from other countries
  • domestic relations with representatives from local, regional and national authorities and organisations
  • relations with Swedish industry
  • the defence of the nation
  • nature and environmental science, research and culture
  • charities through the royal foundations

State visits

State visits

The King and Queen have carried out state visits to many of the world's countries. A state visit is the highest form of visit between two countries, and involves two heads of state meeting each other formally to strengthen relations between the countries.

The arrival ceremony during the state visit to India in December 2019.

The arrival ceremony during the state visit to India in December 2019. Photo: The Swedish Embassy in New Delhi

State visits aim to lay the foundations for strengthened personal contacts and increased political, trade and cultural exchanges between the countries involved. State visits are also accompanied by government ministers and a business delegation.

  • Ceremonial traditions

The programmes for state visits usually last for two or three days, and follow the country's traditions and ceremonial patterns. Most state visits begin with ceremonies and other official elements on the first day.

In the case of incoming state visits, the visiting head of state is met by The King and Queen at the Royal Stables before travelling by horse and carriage to the Royal Palace for the official welcoming ceremony. The day also includes a private lunch at the Royal Palace, a meeting with the Speaker of the Riksdag and the Prime Minister, and a gala dinner at the Royal Palace.

Day two usually includes a number of trade and culture promotion events in Stockholm, and sometimes lunch at Stockholm City Hall. It is also customary for the visiting country to host a reciprocal dinner or a similar event in the evening.

The third day of the state visit is normally spent at another location in Sweden.

Outgoing state visits follow much the same pattern in the host country.

A state visit to Sweden includes several ceremonial elements, including a welcoming ceremony in the Inner Courtyard of the Royal Palace.

A state visit to Sweden includes several ceremonial elements, including a welcoming ceremony in the Inner Courtyard of the Royal Palace. Photo: Emma Henriksson/The Royal Court of Sweden

State visits 1974-2022

A list of all outgoing and incoming state visits from the King's accession to the throne in 1973 until today.


HM The King

Date

Incoming

Outgoing

Comment

1974




8–10 October


Kingdom of Norway

His Majesty King Olav V


9–22 November

Republic of Finland

President Urho Kekkonen


1975




10–12 April


Kingdom of Danmark

Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II

His Royal Highness Prince Henrik


10–13 June


Republic of Island

President Dr. Kristján Eldjárn


8–11 July


United Kingdom

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh


21–24 October

Republic of Finland

President Urho Kekkonen



25–27 November

Kingdom of Norway

His Majesty King Olav V



1976




29–30 March

Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia

President Josip Broz Tito



18–19 May

Republic of Austria

Federal President
and Mrs Rudolf Kirchschläger



TRH The King and Queen

Date

Incoming

Outgoing

Comment

1976 cont.




25–28 October


Kingdom of the Netherlands
Her Majesty Queen Juliana


1977




15–17 March


Kingdom of Belgium
Their Majesties King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola


1978




7–15 June


Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet Leonid Brezhnev


11–15 September

Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia

President Tito


1979




20–27 March


Federal Republic of Germany
Federal President
and Mrs Walter Scheel


16 –19 October

Spanien
Their Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia



6–9 November

Republic of Austria
Federal President
and Mrs Rudolf Kirchschläger


1980




13–19 April


Japan
His Imperial Majesty Emperor Hirohito


22–25 May

United Mexican States
President and Mrs José López-Portillo



16–18 June


French Republic
President and Mrs Valéry Giscard d'Estaing


6–10 November

Romania
President and Mrs Nicolae Ceausescu



1981




9–14 February


United Republic of Tanzania
President Julius Nyerere


20–24 February

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
His Majesty King Khalid bin Abdul Aziz


18–20 May

Canada
Governor General and Mrs Edward Schreyer



14–23 September


People's Republic of China
The Government of China


26–29 October

Republic of Iceland
President Vigdis Finnbogadottir



1982




18–23 January


United Mexican States
President and Mrs José López-Portillo


28 March–6 April


The Commonwealth of Australia
Governor General Sir Zelman Cowen

Only HM The King attended

27–29 April

Republic of Finland
President and Mrs Mauno Koivisto



1983




22–24 March


Kingdom of Spain
Their Majesties King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia


25–28 May

United Kingdom
Her Majesty Queen Elisabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip



22–25 August


Republic of Finland
President and Mrs Mauno Koivisto


21–23 September


Grand Duchy of Luxemburg
Their Royal Highnesses Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte


1984




2–7 April


Federative Republic of Brazil
President and Mrs Joao Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo


16–18 May

French Republic
President and Mrs Francois Mitterand



3–6 October

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Their Majesties King Hussein and Queen Noor



1985




12–14 February

Republic of Zambia
President Dr Kenneth Kaunda



22–24 April


Swiss Confederation
The Federal Council


4–6 June

Japan
Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko


Official visit

3–6 September

The Kingdom of Denmark
Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II and His Royal Highness Prince Henrik



1986




22–24 April

People's Democratic Republic of Algeria
President and Mrs Chadli Bendjedid



29 September –5 October


Portuguese Republic
President and Mrs Mário Soares


1–6 November


Arab Republic of Egypt
President and Mrs Hosni Mubara


1987




21–23 May

Kingdom of the Netherlands
Her Majesty Queen Beatrix and His Royal Highness Prince Claus



23–26 June


Republic of Iceland
President Vigdis Finnbogadóttir


1988




14–18 March


Canada
Governor General Jeanne Sauvé


31 May–3 June

Federal Republic of Germany
President and Baroness Rickard von Weizsäcker



1989




11–17 February


New Zealand
Governor General and Mrs Reeves


18–25 September


Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Their Majesties King Hussein and Queen Noor


1990




21–23 May

State of Israel
President and Mrs Chaim Herzog



9–12 October

Portuguese Republic
President and Mrs Mário Soares



1991




8–10 April


Italian Republic
President Francesco Cossiga


2–4 May


State of the Vatican City
Pope John Paul II


22–24 May

The Czech and Slovak Federal Republic
Federal President and Mrs Václav Havel



27–30 May


Republic of Hungary
President and Mrs Arpád Göncz


15–17 October

Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
Their Royal Highnesses The Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséhine-Charlotte



1992




7–9 April


Ireland
President Mary Robinson and Mr Nicholas Robinson


22–24 April


Republic of Estonia
President and Mrs Arnold Rüütel


12–14 May

Kingdom of Norway
Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja



9–11 September


Republic of Latvia
President and Mrs Anatolijs Gorbunovs


15–17 October


Republic of Lithuania
President and Mrs Vytautas Landsbergis


1993




27–29 April


Federal Republic of Germany
Federal President Baron Rickard von Weizsäcker and Baroness Marianne von Weizsäcker

Official visit

7–9 June


Kingdom of Norway
Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja


22–24 September


Republic of Poland
President and Mrs Lech Walesa

Only HM The King attended

11–16 October


Republic of India
President Dr Shanker Dayal Sharma


1994




13–15 April

Republic of Finland
President and Mrs Martti Ahtisaari



3–5 May

Kingdom of Belgium
Their Majesties King Albert II and Queen Paola



1995




29–31 March

Republic of Poland
President and Mrs Lech Walesa


Only HM The King attended

16–18 May


Czech Republic
President and Mrs Václav Havel


11–13 September

Republic of Estonia
President and Mrs Lennart Meri



16–18 October

Republic of Latvia
President Guntis Ulmanis and Mrs Aina Ulmane



21–23 November

Republic of Lithuania
President Algirdas Brazauskas



1996




12–16 March


Malaysia
Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Raja Permaisuri Agong

HRH Prince Carl Philip attended

28–30 August


Republic of Finland
President and Mrs Martti Ahtisaari

HRH The Crown Princess attended

1–3 October

Republic of Hungary
President and Mrs Arpád Göncz



2–6 December


Republic of Chile
President and Mrs Eduardo Frei


1997




18–20 February


Republic of South Africa
President Nelson Mandela


15–17 April

Ireland
President Mary Robinson and Mr Nicholas Robinson



23–25 September

Republic of Austria
President Dr Thomas Klestil



2–4 December

Russian Federation
President Boris Jeltsin and Mrs Naina Jeltsina



1998




5–8 May

Italian Republic
President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro



26–28 May

Argentine republic
President Dr Carlos Saúl Menem



3–6 November


Republic of Mozambique
President and Mrs Joaquim Chissano


24–26 November

Republic of Iceland
President Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson



1999




17–18 March

Republic of South Africa
President Nelson Mandela and Mrs Graca Machel



23–25 March

Ukraine
President and Mrs Leonid D Kuchma



26–29 April


Greece – Hellenic Republic
President Constantinos Stephanopoulos


5–7 October

Republic of Slovenia
President and Mrs Milan Kucan



2000




10–11 April

French Republic
President and Mrs Jacques Chirac



2–3 May

Republic of Finland
President Tarja Halonen and Dr Pentti Arajärvi



29–31 May

Japan
His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko



9–11 November


Republic of Bulgaria
President Petăr Stoyanov and Mrs Antonina Stoyanova


2001




8–11 May


Kingdom of Belgium
Their Majesties King Albert II and Queen Paola


8–11 November


Russian Federation
President and Mrs Vladimir Putin


2002




3–5 April


Republic of Slovenia
President and Mrs Rudolf Schuster


5–7 November


United Mexican States
President Vicente Fox and Mrs Martha Sahagun


2003




25 February–
1 March


Kingdom of Thailand
Their Majesties King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit


8–10 April


Romania
President and Mrs Ion Iliescu


20–22 May

Federal Republic of Germany
Federal President and Mrs Johannes Rau



26–28 August


Republic of Finland
President Tarja Halonen and Dr Pentti Arajärvi


7–9 October

Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Their Majesties King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein and Queen Rania Al-Abdullah



2004




2–6 February


Socialist Republic of Vietnam
President Tran Duc Luong


7–9 February


Negara Brunei Darussalam
His Majesty the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah


15–17 June


Republic of Slovenia
President Dr. Janez Drnovsek


7–9 September


Republic of Iceland
President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson


2005




17–19 January


Kingdom of Thailand
Their Majesties King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit

Official visit

31 March–1 April

Republic of Latvia
President Vaira Vike-Freiberga



14–15 September

Malaysia 
HM King Yang Di-Pertuan Agong XII



7–12 November


Commonwealth of Australia
Governor General Michael Jeffery


2006




21–23 March

Republic of Botswana
President and Mrs Festus Gontebanye Mogae



30 May–1 June


Republic of Turkey
President Ahmey Necdet Sezer


17–22 Juli


People's Republic of China
President Hu Jintao


24–27 October


Kanada
Generalguvernör Michaëlle Jean


2007




26–29 March


Japan
His Imperial Majesty Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko


9–11 May


Kingdom of Denmark
HM Queen Margrethe

HRH The Crown Princess attended

8–10 June

People's Republic of China
President Hu Jintao



11–12 September

Federative Republic of Brazil
President Lula



9–11 October

Republic of Bulgaria
President Parvanov



20–22 November


Republic of Austria
President Heinz Fischer


2008




11–12 March

Romania
President Taian Basescu and Mrs Maria Basescu



15–17 April

Grand Duchy of Luxembourg
HRH Grand Duke Henri and HRH Grand Duccess Maria Teresa



5–7 May


Portuguese Republic
President Anibal Cavaco Silva and Mrs. Maria Cavaco Silva


20–22 May

Greece – Hellenic Republic
President Karolos Papoulias



30 September – 3 October


Ukraine
President Viktor Jusjtjenko and Mrs Kateryna Jusjtjenko


2009




24–26 March


Italian Republic
President Giorgio Napolitano and Mrs Clio Bittoni


20–22 April


Kingdom of the Netherlands
HM Queen Beatrix


2010




23–26 March


Federative Republic of Brazil
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Mrs Marisa Leticia Lula da Silva


2011




18–20 January

Republic of Estonia
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Mrs Evelin Ilves



22–25 March


Republic of Botswana
President Ian Khama

Only HM The King attended

4–6 May


Republic of Poland
President Bronislaw Komorowski


2012




17–18 April

Republic of Finland
President Sauli Niinistö and Mrs Jenni Haukio



30 May – 1 June


Republic of Korea
President Lee Myung-bak


2013




11–13 March

Republic of Turkey
President Abdullah Gül and Mrs Hayrünnisa Gül



16–18 April


Republic of Croatia
President Ivo Josipović and Professor Tatjana Josipović


1–3 October

Portuguese Republic
President Aníbal Cavaco Silva and Mrs Maria Cavaco Silva



2014




25–26 March


Republic of Latvia
President Andris Bērziņš


2–4 December


French Republic
President François Hollande


2015




3–5 March


Republic of Finland
President Sauli Niinistö and Mrs Jenni Haukio


31 May–2 June

Republic of India
President Shri Pranab Mukherjee



7–9 October


Republic of Lithuania
President Dalia Grybauskaitė


4–6 November

Republic of Tunisia
President Beji Caïd Essebsi and Mrs Saida Caïd Essebsi



2016




10–12 May

Republic of Chile
President Michelle Bachelet



8–10 June


Kingdom of Bhutan
King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Queen Jetsun Pema


5–8 October


Federal Republic of Germany
President Joachim Gauck and Mrs Daniela Schadtt


2017




20–23 February

Canada
Governor General David Johnston and Mrs Sharon Johnston



22–24 May


Republic of Indonesia
President Joko Widodo


2018




17–19 January

Republic of Iceland
President Guðni Jóhannesson and Mrs Eliza Reid



13–15 November

Italian Republic
President Sergio Mattarella and Ms Laura Mattarella (daughter of the President)



2019




22–24 May


Ireland
President Michael D Higgins and Mrs Sabina Higgins


14–15 June

Republic of Korea
President Moon Jae-in and Mrs Kim Jung-sook



2–6 December


Republic of India
President Ram Nath Kovind and Mrs Savita Kovind


2021




7–9 September

Federal Republic of Germany
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Mrs Elke Büdenbender



24–25 November

Kingdom of Spain
Their Majesties King

Felipe VI and Queen Letizia



2022




17–18 May

Republic of Finland
President Sauli Niinistö and Mrs Jenni Haukio



11–13 October

Kingdom of the Netherlands

Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima



15–17 November


Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Their Majesties King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein and Queen Rania Al-Abdullah


  • Official visits

An official visit is a slightly lower form of visit between two countries. Every year, The Crown Princess and Prince Daniel conduct official visits abroad at the request of the Government. These official visits also include government ministers, and usually a business delegation. The King and Queen can also carry out official visits. These visits often have the same content as a state visit, but with a slightly less formal structure.

The history of the monarchy

The history of the monarchy

Sweden's monarchy is one of the oldest in the world, and is based on traditions that stretch back over a thousand years. There have been more than 70 monarchs during this period, all of whom can be named.

With the introduction of Christianity, royal power was gradually strengthened. During the Middle Ages, royal power was not hereditary in a formal sense. The nobility and the privileged classes came into being in the late 13th century. At the same time, Sweden also gained a council, a kind of government. From this point, the country thus had central power in the form of a king and a council. The Swedish hereditary monarchy was established in the 16th century.

Several different dynasties have since been included in the list of Swedish monarchs. Since the former French marshal Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, Sovereign Prince of Ponte Corvo, ascended to the throne in 1818 as King Karl XIV Johan, the Bernadotte dynasty has ruled Sweden.

King Karl XIV Johan. Artist: François Gérard.

King Karl XIV Johan. Artist: François Gérard. Photo: Alexis Daflos/The Royal Court of Sweden

Symbols

Symbols

The crown, the sceptre, the orb and the key of the realm – the Swedish Royal Regalia – symbolise the traditions of the kingdom.

The Regalia indicate royal rank at major royal ceremonies such as enthronements, christenings, weddings and funerals.

The royal symbols also include the greater and lesser national coats of arms. The national coats of arms symbolise the Swedish state. The greater coat of arms is also The King's personal coat of arms.

The main regalia (from left): the key, the sceptre, the sword, the crown and the orb.

The main regalia (from left): the key, the sceptre, the sword, the crown and the orb. Photo: Alexis Daflos/The Royal Court of Sweden

Orders and medals

Orders and medals

Orders and medals allow the Head of State to recognise outstanding contributions for the benefit of society.

Since the Head of State is the country's supreme representative, these awards are an expression of the country's gratitude, and are therefore very much appreciated.

Today, The King awards the Order of the Seraphim and the Order of the Polar Star to foreign citizens and stateless individuals, as well as within the Royal Court, while the Order of the Sword and the Order of Vasa are currently dormant. The Order of the Seraphim and the Order of the Polar Star are also exchanged between countries as a gesture of friendship during state visits, at the Government's suggestion.

The King awards five royal medals to Swedish citizens, with HM The King's Medal being the most commonly awarded and consisting of eight levels.

HM The King's Medal in gold in 12th size, with the ribbon of the Order of the Seraphim.

HM The King's Medal in gold in 12th size, with the ribbon of the Order of the Seraphim. Photo: Jonas Borg/The Royal Court of Sweden

The Monarchs of Sweden

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