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King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia celebrate a huge milestone on 19 June 2016 in Sweden.

An Olympic Games Royal Romance

Crown Prince Carl Gustaf met commoner Silvia Sommerlath during the Munich Olympic Games in 1972 where she was working as an interpreter and hostess for several high-profile guests at the Games. Silvia is fluent in six languages: Swedish, German, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

King Carl Gustaf later said that he and Silvia just “clicked” from the start.

Silvia was born in Heidelberg in Germany on 23 December 1943 to Walther Sommerlath and his Brazilian wife, Alice de Toledo, and she lived in Sao Paulo in Brazil from 1947 and 1957.

She also worked as a flight attendant, prior to the Olympic Games and had worked at the Argentinian Consulate in Munich.

Silvia became Deputy Head of Protocol of the Organising Committee for the Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck in Austria, so she is Sweden’s first Queen to have a professional career.

Accession

Carl Gustaf’s grandfather, Gustaf VI Adolf died on 15 September 1973, so he became King, with his investiture taking place on 19 September 1973.

Prior to his accession, Carl Gustaf was expected to marry royalty and he had been linked with Princess Anne during the 1960s and the early 1970s, as speculation arose from regular visits to Britain.

Any member of the Swedish Royal Family who married a commoner would lose his or her royal status, as King Gustaf was a strong believer that royalty should only marry royalty. Carl Gustaf’s three sisters had to renounce their royal titles when they married commoners, as well as his uncle, Prince Bertil, who waited until King Gustaf’s death before he finally married his Welsh lover, Lilian Davies, after over 30 years.

Engagement

Their engagement was announced four years later, on 12 March 1976.

Initially there was some resistance to the idea of the King marrying a commoner, the Swedish press soon changed their mind and warmed to Silvia, even giving her the credit for reviving the monarchy. Some even regarded the new Queen as a “breath of fresh air” and has helped modernise the monarchy.

ABBA performs at the Royal Variety Concert the night before the wedding for King Carl Gustaf and Silvia, singing Dancing Queen.

Marriage

Carl Gustuf married Silvia on 19 June 1976 at Stockholm Cathedral in a ceremony performed by Olof Sundby, the Archbishop of Uppsala. It was the first marriage of a reigning monarch since 1797.

 

They began married life in an apartment at the Royal Palace of Stockholm until the early 1980s, when they moved to Drottningholm Palace.

They have three children: Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine, and are now the proud grandparents of five grandchildren.

40th Wedding Anniversary

A new exhibition, featuring five Royal wedding dresses will open at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, on 22 October 2016 from 5 March 2017, to mark the King and Queen’s 40th wedding anniversary.

The display features gowns worn by Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Madeleine, Princess Sofia and Princess Lilian.

Kungliga Jubileer

PostNord Sweden also released new stamps, Kungliga Jubileer earlier this year, to commemorate King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia’s 40th (Ruby) Wedding Anniversary. King Carl Gustaf also celebrated his 70th birthday in April.

With Permission from PostNord Sverige.

With Permission from PostNord Sverige.

These stamps were designed by Daniel Bjugård and photographer Anna-Lena Ahlström.

Listen to our 26 February 2016 Show to find out more.