This photographic exhibition commemorates 50 years during which The King has served Sweden as Head of State. It includes official portraits combined with snapshots from The King’s many assignments and engagements. In keeping with The King’s motto, For Sweden – With the Times, the photographs also depict five decades of Sweden as a nation. They reflect the continuity that The King has brought in his role as the longest-reigning monarch in Sweden’s history.

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The Act of Succession is Sweden’s oldest constitutional law that remains in force. It determines who is in line to the Swedish throne, in other words who is entitled to become the country’s King or Queen Regnant. The law was adopted by the 1810 Parliament, and gave the House of Bernadotte the right to the Swedish throne. This photograph was taken at Prince Carl (XVI) Gustaf’s christening on 7 June 1946 in the Royal Chapel at the Royal Palace. It shows four generations: King Gustaf V (The King’s great-grandfather), Crown Prince Gustaf (VI) Adolf (The King’s grandfather), the Heir Apparent Prince Gustaf Adolf (The King’s father) and our current King, who was christened Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus and was granted the titles Heir to the Swedish Throne and Duke of Jämtland. Photo: Jaeger/The Bernadotte Library
The accession to the throne took place on 19 September 1973, four days after the death of King Gustaf VI Adolf at Helsingborg General Hospital. The Crown Prince became King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, at the age of 27. In the Cabinet Meeting Room at the Royal Palace, The King swore the King’s Oath in the presence of the Government. The King then appeared before the Riksdag, the diplomatic corps and official Sweden for a ceremony in the Hall of State, during which he gave a speech in remembrance of his late grandfather next to Queen Kristina’s silver throne: “Since my dear ancestor, King of Sweden, the Goths and the Wends Gustaf VI Adolf has died, I have succeeded Him as King of our nation. My regnal name shall be Carl XVI Gustaf, my regnal title shall be King of Sweden, and my motto shall be For Sweden – With the Times.” Photo: Jan Collsiöö/Pressens bild
It was during the 1972 Munich Olympic Games that Sweden’s Crown Prince and Miss Silvia Sommerlath first met. Their engagement was announced four years later, and their wedding took place at Stockholm Cathedral on 19 June 1976. The official wedding portrait was taken by the photographer Lennart Nilsson. The bride and groom are surrounded by their bridesmaids and page boys: James Ambler, Amelie Middelschulte, Hubertus of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, Hélène Silfverschiöld, Sophie Sommerlath and Carmita Sommerlath. The groom wore his admiral’s uniform with the Order of the Seraphim and the Order of Vasa. The wedding dress was designed by Marc Bohan at Dior in Paris. The Queen also wore the cameo tiara – originally a gift from Napoleon to his wife, Empress Joséphine, in 1809. Photo: Lennart Nilsson
In accordance with the 1979 Act of Succession, HRH The Crown Princess is the heir to the Swedish throne. The act came into force on 1 January 1980, and stipulates that it is the firstborn who inherits the throne, regardless of their gender. The previous Act of Succession dated from 1810, and only gave male heirs the right to inherit the throne. The photograph shows The King with The Crown Princess and her firstborn child, Princess Estelle, who is second in line to the throne after The Crown Princess. Photo: Thron Ullberg/The Royal Court
This official portrait of HM The King was taken to commemorate the 2023 jubilee year. The portrait also forms the basis for a jubilee stamp. It depicts The King of Sweden standing in the Hall of State in the Royal Palace, next to the silver throne from Queen Kristina’s coronation in 1650. The King wears his admiral’s uniform with the collars of the Order of the Seraphim, the Order of the Sword, the Order of the Polar Star and the Order of Vasa. Around his neck, The King wears the the Grand Commander Cross of the Danish Order of the Dannebrog, which is only awarded to the Danish monarch’s closest relatives. Under the chains of the orders, Swedish and Norwegian royal jubilee- and commemorative badges can also be seen. The conferment of orders to Swedish citizens will resume in 2023, having been dormant since 1974. This is part of a new revised awarding system to recognise meritorious contributions made by Swedish citizens. The King is the Grand Master of the Royal Swedish Orders of Knighthood. Photo: Thron Ullberg/The Royal Court
The King’s constitutional duties include opening the Riksdag session every year. Until 1974, the Riksdag session was opened in the Hall of State at the Royal Palace. Since 1975, this has taken place in the Riksdag. In 2023, HM The King will open the Riksdag session for the fiftieth time. During the opening ceremony, The King gives a speech after which – at the Speaker’s request – he declares the new Riksdag Session open. The Riksdag Session begins fifteen days after a parliamentary election, and marks the start of the Riksdag’s new working year which begins in mid-September and runs until the next Riksdag session in September of the following year. The opening of the Riksdag session follows a traditional format, including the Royal Family travelling by horse and carriage to the Riksdag building, where they are received with military honours. Photo: Melker Dahlstrand/Sveriges Riksdag
On Tuesday 30 November 2021, the first Change of Government Council with a female Prime Minister took place. Earlier in the day, Magdalena Andersson had informed the Riksdag which cabinet ministers would form part of the Government. The photograph shows them gathered around the cabinet table together with The King, The Crown Princess and the Speaker in the Cabinet Meeting Room at the Royal Palace. The new Government formally took up its duties when The King announced that a change of Government had taken place in accordance with Chapter 6, Article 6 of the Instrument of Government. Foto: Ingemar Lindewall/ The Royal Court
The King’s duties include chairing councils with the Government. There are several different types of council. A Change of Government Council is held when a new Government takes up its duties. Councils of State are held regularly so that ministers can inform the Head of State about the Government’s policies. When a child is born into the Royal House, The King convenes a council to inform the Government of the child’s name, title and duchy. These councils are held in the Cabinet Meeting Room at the Royal Palace. The King also chairs the Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs. This a consultation group between the Riksdag and the Government. According to the Swedish Constitution, the Government shall keep the Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs informed of matters relating to foreign relations which may be of significance for the Realm. The photograph is from a 1976 Council of State with Prime Minister Thorbjörn Fälldin’s Government. Photo: Lennart Nilsson/ TT
The King receives approximately 30 to 40 foreign envoys each year during formal audiences in the Bernadotte Apartments at the Royal Palace. 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 to represent one’s country abroad. Since 1973, The King has received approximately 1,500 ambassadors. The photograph shows Latvia’s ambassador Ms Ilse Rūze, who was received during a formal audience at the Royal Palace on 17 November 2021. Photo: Sanna Argus Tirén/The Royal Court
During state visits to Sweden, The King hosts and receives the visiting head of state. These are ceremonial events that strengthen relations between the two countries. The programme for a state visit usually lasts for two or three days, and often takes place in Stockholm and another city in Sweden. As well as trade-related and cultural events, the programme also includes meetings with the Speaker and the Prime Minister, as well as a gala dinner at the Royal Palace. Between 1974 and 2022, The King has hosted 70 incoming state visits to Sweden. The photograph was taken when Queen Elizabeth II (1926–2022) carried out a state visit to Sweden in 1983. Photo: Dan Hansson/TT
The King’s main tasks include visiting other countries and hosting foreign visits to Sweden. The highest form of visit between two countries is called a state visit, and involves the two nations’ heads of state meeting each other. State visits aim to deepen and enhance relations between countries. Representatives from the Government and Swedish industry accompany The King and Queen on state visits. The King carried out his first state visit in 1974, to King Olav V of Norway. This was followed by visits to the other Nordic nations. Between 1974 and 2022, The King has taken part in 85 state visits to other countries. The photograph shows the King’s state visit to Lithuania in 2015, at the invitation of President Dalia Grybauskaitė. Photo: Alexis Daflos/The Royal Court
An official visit is a less ceremonial form of visit between two countries. The Crown Princess Couple can carry out official visits abroad at the request of the Government. Official visits also involve Government ministers and usually a Swedish business delegation. The King and Queen carry out official visits on rare occasions. Such visits tend to have the same content as a state visit, but with a slightly less ceremonial format. The photograph is from the former US President Barack Obama’s official visit to Sweden in 2013. This was the first time a sitting President of the United States had visited Stockholm. The programme included meetings at the Royal Palace, the Government Offices at Rosenbad, the Royal Institute of Technology and Stockholm Synagogue. Photo: Alexis Daflos/The Royal Court
A head of state makes many speeches on many different occasions. One of the more emotional speeches was given at Stockholm City Hall on 10 January 2005, during the memorial service for the Indian Ocean Tsunami that killed more than 220,000 people, 543 of whom were Swedes. “Imagine if, like the king in the fairy tales, I could make everything right and end the story by saying ‘And they all lived happily ever after’. But I, just like you, am only a grieving, searching mortal.” The King also referred to the loss of his own father: “Many children have lost one or both of their parents. And I know how that feels. I was a child like that myself, once.” Photo: Sven Nackstrand/TT
The Nobel Prize has been awarded each year since 1901, except during the World Wars and the Covid pandemic. The prizes awarded in Sweden are for physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine and literature, and the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel (i.e. the prize for economics), which was established in 1969. Each laureate receives their prize – the Nobel Medal and a personal, hand-written diploma – from The King. The Nobel Foundation hosts the subsequent banquet at Stockholm City Hall, and on the following day The King hosts a dinner at the Royal Palace for the Nobel laureates. The photograph shows the Nobel Prize being presented at Stockholm Concert Hall in 2009 to the Romanian-German author Herta Müller, who received the prize in literature. Photo: Peter Andrews/TT