As the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announce their departure, CATHERINE EDWARDS asks what they could have learned from the Swedish royal set-up…
The news that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will be taking a step back from their roles as “senior royals” made headlines around the world, not least in Sweden. Buckingham Palace appeared to show disappointment in a brief statement, saying talks on the couple’s future were at an “early stage”. The Sussexes’ brashness was met with astonishment in Sweden, whose own royal family underwent big changes last year.
Last October Carl XVI Gustaf removed five of his grandchildren from the Royal House, in a move said to have been discussed over a period of several years. The King announced that the two sons of his own son Prince Carl Philip, and the three children of his daughter Princess Madeleine would no longer perform the official duties of senior royals. The five remained part of the royal family, a term used to refer to all the extended family of Sweden’s reigning monarch, but will no longer be referred to as ‘Royal Highness’. None of them will benefit from the income paid to members of the Royal House and funded by taxpayers, given in return to performing official royal duties.
The change doesn’t have an immediate impact on the grandchildren, since they are all between the ages of one and five, but it could grant them considerably more freedom as they grow older, since they won’t act as official representatives of Sweden. This allows them to publicly state political opinions, take a job or start a business, all off limits to those in the Royal House. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex might find themselves relating particularly to Princess Madeleine (the King’s daughter). The princess (seventh in line to the throne) currently lives in America with her husband, British-American financier Christopher O’Neill, who refused a royal title (and Swedish citizenship) on marriage. The Swedish royal family receives around 149m SEK (£12m) a year from taxpayers to cover official functions and visits. Princess Madeleine’s house in Florida is not paid for by the state but she does get compensated for attending events such as National Day, and she still spends the summer in Sweden.
Princess Madeleine with her husband, Christopher O’Neill
The changes to the Swedish royal family, unlike the British, took place smoothly, with the Marshal of the Realm telling media that the family had been discussing the change as a way of dealing with a growing family, and that both sets of parents were happy with the move. Like the British royal family, the Swedish royal family enjoy unrivalled popular support, and are seen as very down to earth. Prince Daniel, husband of heir-to-the throne Crown Princess Victoria, previously worked as her personal trainer, and Princess Sofia worked as a model and reality television contestant. In December the King and Queen attracted attention during a trip to India when they not only flew econony class, but also carried their own baggage upon arrival.
CATHERINE EDWARDS writes for The Local: Sweden.
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