The Annual Little Birthday Interview 2005 with Crown Princess Victoria
(done by Mark Levengood for Swedish Television, SVT, in the Solliden Palace Gardens)
Disclaimer: This is my free translation, my English is not perfect but I do this for all who might be interested in hearing what our Crown Princess has to say. Yes sheís diplomatic, no I or we donít know what she means with some mystic answers and yes, the interviewer is gay!
If one follows the Crown Princess on a distance, I think we have seen a happy and independent Crown Princess. Is she? - I hope so!
Is life good? - It is very good. Iím comfortable and weíve had an amazing summer, very hot and nice, and with nice weather, so it has been great.
But Crown Princess, wherever one goes people look at her and she happily waves back. How is it to live a life where one is not allowed to be in a bad mood? - Weíre all humans, and I have my days too, but itís like for all of us when we have a job to take care of, it isnít suitable to always act how you feel, it has to be done at another time.
But she has earlier said that she has quite a stabile temper. - Yes, I think I do. Everyone has theirÖ Oh no, now I nearly said trigger points, but letís not bring those up! (big laugh)
But letís put it this way, if one wants to make the Crown Princess happy, what does one have to do then? - Itís actually rather easy, I become happy for small things, which is nice, but Iím weak for children and animals. But a friendly approach is enough.
I understand that the Crown Princess tries to do a good job, but sometimes if sheís dumb or if she has to be corrected, who can correct the Crown Princess? Is it Elisabeth, or does the King say that now she has to go to her wing and be ashamed? - No. Firstly, one has to hope that it doesnít happen too often, but itís always healthy with some critique. Then one can hope that itís brought forward in a constructive way, but Iím open for critique, itís only healthy.
Is she good at receiving critique? - I think so, as I want to learn and do a good job.
Is she good at receiving praise then? - So and so.
I think sheís very Swedish. One believes all the critical voices and pushes away the praise. - Yes, I suppose itís the easiest way.
It said in the paper that naked men run around in the garden, but I guess thatís too much to hope for? - Yes, it is. Itís one of those stories.
So then weíre into this when sheís getting married. She said last year that she would let us know when it was coming. But there seems to be nothing to tell us yet? - No, thereís nothing to tell. I stand by my word. But when the day comes, I hope that people will respect the choice I have done. It will be a big day for me, so I hope it comes some day.
The Crown Princess is about to turn 28. - Youíre reminding me of how old I am!
We only see each other in connections with your birthdayÖ But it has been a dynamic year, a lot has happened and she has travelled a lot. What does she remember from the year that has passed? - It has been a year full of experiences, absolutely, and there have been many interesting trips and interesting countries that I had never been to before, like Australia and Bangladesh.
Victoria was in Bangladesh to help after the tsunami? - Yes, it was an Asia trip that had been planned since a long time, and in connection to the tragedy that happened we decided to add a country like Sri Lanka, that has been very affected by the catastrophe.
It mustíve been a very up heaving and shaking experience? - Yes, it was choking despite all the images one has seen and all the reports from the area, it was absolutely up heaving, itís incomprehensible to understand the forces that came. But life goes on. Itís tough to say that, but that struggle to return to some kind of everyday life, despite what happened, is what people are now trying to do.
Did the Crown Princess come in contact with people, or did she just get to see what was shown to her? - No, I definitely got to meet the people, it was the whole point of the trip Ė to visit and meet with people that had been affected. In one camp that the Red Cross had installed, we met a family where the father was a construction worker; they had lost everything in the catastrophe. But he said that what was most important to him and the family was to get back some kind of normal life again, despite what had happened. To build a house, to get back their house. He said that he could build their and their neighbours houses, but he didnít have the tools. Itís great to see all the organisations that are in place, and whom are present in many countries, but whom I visited at that time. They all have great projects to help with what is essential at the locations, like tools or fishing nets Ė because the majority of the population were fishers there.
At that time I was proud of living in Sweden, I thought all Swedes were so helpful. - It was absolutely fantastic, Iím immensely proud of the commitment we saw in Sweden Ė how people really contributed, were incredible generous to donate funds, but also in other ways in voluntary work. I hope that the commitment and willingness to help will stay, and be of assistance to others too.
With everything that the Crown Princess gets to see of pain and misery, is she religious? - I am religious and I believe in God. I have an incredible respect for the Church of Sweden and other religious communions. But this is in my own way.
In connection with the Crown Princessí visit to Turkey, the newspapers wrote that she would be willing to choose the throne before love. - A matter of course. In the way that getting to represent Sweden is a great benefit, and I do it with great joy and pride. Of course it can be demanding, but I get more in return, and I really want to say that Iím incredibly grateful for all the great support I get. I want to do my utmost to perform as good as possible. The day it will be a topicality with marriage, I hope that my choice of person will be respected.
Thank you so much for translating, GrandDuchess. :) :) :)
When Iīve read your comment about Mark being gay, I was surprised, that you had mentioned it. But then I read the part with the naked men. This guy is hilarious and imo as interviewer very charming in his impish behaviour. I hope he will interview her (and maybe her hubby) in 2006 again.
I wonder, what she has meant with "own way" in this answer to the question on religion. A german mag has translated it, as if she would have her own belief. I would love to know in what she believes. IMO to know in which way a person follows a religion is the most intimate and telling, you can find out about a person.
BTW I wonder, why you have talked about your english in the disclaimer, GrandDuchess. As much as I can judge it, itīs quite good...much better than mine.
Mark Levengood, the one who has conducted the last years birthday interviews with the Crown Princess (as the one I translated above).
Thank you Lena for you encourragement, I'm glad you liked the translations. I also like Mark as an interviewer, he always has a "sparkle in the eye" and coducts them with great humour and nice twists. I also hope he will be back.
My translation of a Svensk Damtidning interview with the Crown Princess, published this week (w. 40, 2005)
(This picture is not from the magazine, but they did the interview on the boat
and featured some pictures from the interview and some of Victoria on the deck)
The Crown Princess in an exclusive interview with Svensk Damtidning 'Iíve never been as happy as I am now!'
In the harbour of Hong Kong, a fast stream lined boat is rushing through the waves. On board is a bubbling happy Victoria, and with the cityís skyline as a background, she tells Svensk Damtidningís Jenny Alexandersson about her new, happy life.
Is the Crown Princess happy? - Yes!
Itís noticeable! - Good, thatís an eternal luck, haha! Iím enjoying today. Iím happy! I donít wish for anything else in life right now.
What does the Crown Princess miss the most on trips like this? I asked this question when we were in Australia, and then I got Ďcerealsí as the answerÖ - YesÖ I actually have cereals with me, haha! Itís good to have for the days when Iím really peckish. Then itís good with Swedish cereals!
Nothing else from home? - No, I love to try new food. Maybe there have been a few too many dishes, but the food has been fantastic and itís fun to see the difference between the food in Beijing and the food in Canton and Hong Kong. I like to try some weird stuff sometimes.
Which is the Crown Princessí favourite dish here in China? - I like dumplings, and steam cooked fish in soy, vinegar and sesame seeds with ginger. Iím gonna try that at home, I donít know how that will turn out, but itís good when it works.
Does the Crown Princess cook? - Not much. I try to cook, but I would never get the idea to offer it to anyone else.
The Crown Princess meets many interesting people on her travels. Here in China you meet the world second powerful woman, Vice Prime Minister Wu Yi. - Yes, they say that sheís the most powerful after Condoleezza Rice. At that occasion we had dinner with Thomas ÷stros and representatives from Swedish enterprise, among them Peter Wallenberg who has a long experience from China. At such a dinner there are good discussions, especially if there arenít too many at the table.
Is there any special experience from the trip that has got caught in the memory? - The morning in the Ritan Park. I really felt that I was in China. Little old men with bird cages that they hanged in the trees came, and people did tai chi and danced sword dance and foxtrot in the park. At seven in the morning, itís very ambitious to dance to streaming music!
Did the Crown Princess dance? - I definitely did not! But it was very fun to see.
The Crown Princess has a small, slim digital camera? - Yes, but Iím a bad photographer. But the technique is so good today, so it helps.
Is the Crown Princess a ďhigh tech princessĒ? - No, unfortunately not. Itís one of the weaknesses that I have.
Does the Crown Princess travel with a laptop? - No, I donít. There is no time whatsoever for that. Then I would just get a bad conscience for not checking everything I should.
I promised to ask a question on behalf of our interpreter. She has only seen princesses on film, where they either get abducted or finds love in a simple boy and goes awayÖ
- Haha! I hope for neither, I hope to just be able to stay in Sweden!
When we visited the Swedish School, it was noticed that the Crown Princess is good with children. - Yes, I love children. They are spontaneous and direct. Children and animals always livens up things.
When does the Crown Princess want her own children? - When I feel mature.
During all the enterprise meetings, the Crown Princess has listened intensively when Chinese has been spoken? - Yes, Iím trying to see if I can figure out what they are talking about and if it agrees with what the interpreter says. I can tell you that I havenít been right too many times! One always learns something. Like mother says: ďThere is nothing that is more boring than not listeningĒ.
That was wise. - Yes, mother says a lot of wise things.
How does it feel now, after two intense weeks in China? - Iím a bit tired. There is constant concentration. But on the other hand, I like it when the tempo is high.
Will it be as intense when the Crown Princess continues the China trip on her own? - I think it will be calmer. But Iím curious and easily escalate the tempo. I always sleep well on the plane home. I can sleep at anytime and anywhere, I even managed to fall asleep on the loud train from Hong Kong to here.
What does a Crown Princess do when she can finally close the door after a long day? - It spins quite a lot in the head, so I sleep pretty well.
(PS for Swedes - On the first question, the Crown Princess answered with "jajje", which SdT says is a short form for jajamšnsan that the Royal Family uses)
My translation of an interview with Queen Silvia from the magazine Tara (released recently)
"I have a Brazilian heart and a German head"
She loves the challenge in her work – and prefers to work with her husband. She feels strongly for vulnerable children – and thinks it’s sad when her own move away from home. Tara’s Pia Lundgren has met a charming Queen Silvia and talks about everything from trafficking to how it is to become older.
- She seemed very nice. I think she really liked kids!
That’s what my American niece Annika, seven years old, said after having met Queen Silvia at Scandinavia House in New York in April. The Queen was there to talk about the World Childhood Foundation’s project. Annika was a part of the welcoming committee, handed over a bouquet of flowers, shook hands with the Queen and got a little chat.
When I now meet the Queen at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, I tell her what Annika said. The Queen shines, smiles a big smile and says: - That is the best compliment one can get. Give her my greetings!
The Queen isn’t very tall, but dainty and elegant. But she exuberates an enormous strength and goal orientation. On the World Childhood Foundation’s website she writes:
“It is a privilege to represent Sweden. It is also united with a great responsibility. During both State Visits and other trips abroad, I try to get a picture of reality and take an interest particularly for the children’s situation”.
Carolina, 12 years old, that I have met in one of the Queen’s World Childhood Foundation project, Lua Nova, outside Sao Paulo in Brazil, have totally different conditions compared to my niece’s privileged life. Carolina was exposed to sexual assault by her stepfather and gave birth to his child after that. The neighbours reported the family’s situation to the authorities, which made sure that Carolina got a safe haven through Lua Nova, and a chance for a better life for her daughter. At Lua Nova, she and the other exposed teenage mothers get to learn how to build houses and make things, among them imaginative dolls that they sell. The purpose is that they should learn how to earn a living at the same time as the staff helps the young mothers to relate to their children in a good way.
The Queen’s commitment to exposed children and teenagers is borderless. It really started already in Brazil when she was out in the city together with her mother. - I saw mothers with their children, sitting and begging. I noticed that there was poverty, misery and children who had a hard time. But in those days, there weren’t that many orphaned homeless children. Maybe I was too young to see them too. I was only two and a half when we came to Brazil and fourteen when we returned to Germany.
We’re sitting in the Queen’s beautiful office in the Palace’s east wing. It’s in yellow ochre with elegant rococo furniture in old pink. She tells anecdotes from the time when she grew up. - Of course I don’t have any memories from the very beginning. I was so little when we came to Brazil, but it is told that I liked oranges, which there was none of in Germany during the war.
The Queen laughs and says: - I ate them until I wasn’t feeling very good. And my brother, who was more appealed by bananas, ate them until he felt sick.
She has mostly bright memories, among them from a farm in the countryside where she, her brothers and cousins spent a lot of time. - I tried to help the poor children there. On the farm there was a little school were I acted as the teacher and taught them. But I also wanted us to do something fun for the children, so my cousins and I arranged a little circus where I did different gymnastic things, and we dressed as clowns. We had a very grateful audience.
The Queen has earlier asked her family and friends about what they have done to help poor and exposed people in Brazil. - Some friends of mine created a hospital. It has now existed for 30 years and receives around 1 000 children a day. And my cousin, who had a farm, ran and took care of both a school and a hospital.
Her face lights up, and then the Queen thoughtfully tells about her upbringing and says that it was quite strict. - At least compared with today. I have three older brothers, and Walther, who is ten years older than me, took on the role upbringing role. I was to sit properly at the dining table and not have my elbows on it. My parents were also strict – my father was German, my mother Brazilian. If there was a party at one of my friend’s place and I was going as a thirteen year old, we maybe had a dance, but then my brothers came with me as chaperons. Of course it was embarrassing in the beginning, but it was the same for my Brazilian girlfriends.
To return to Germany was a cultural shock for the Queen. - It was worse there. It was a hard changeover because I had classmates in Germany who were allowed to go out in the evenings, and I couldn’t.
Why not? - No, one didn’t do that. My parents didn’t’ think it was right that I was out as a 14-15-yearold. I wasn’t allowed to be with my friends after going to the theatre or cinema. That liberty wasn’t given to me before I was around 18, after graduation. But even then we were a bigger gang. We met in big groups at each other’s places and one of my brothers was often with me.
The Queen says that she would’ve liked to give her own children the same upbringing. - Yes, one tries to give them the same upbringing that one self has got. And of course in every generation the children will say “Oh, how old fashioned” and “That was then, now it is different”. Of course one discusses upbringing with other parents, and suddenly sees that there are them who share one’s own opinions. But of course it’s a bit different today.
The Queen is low-voiced, thoughtful and careful. But she has warm eyes and a catching laughter – like when she comments how life has changed practically since the children have grown up and moved away from home. - Practically? Well I think it’s quite unpractical. Of course it’s nice to see how they have developed and stand for what they think is right. But what I think is a pity, is that there isn’t a daily continuous togetherness anymore…
- Sure we talk to each other, call each other. But we don’t see each other every day, but instead maybe on a Sunday dinner. As a parent I think it’s a pity, because it’s nice to have a close contact.
That there has become more space for “own time” since the children have moved away from home, the Queen firmly dismisses. - I hardly think there is any “own time”. We have a very intense programme.
But didn’t the Royal Couple have that when the children lived at home too? - Yes, of course. And then we were dependent in having very good help at home, who could be with the children. We tried to be with the children as much as possible, and have an effective quality time together with them. Our wish wasn’t always successful. These days I maybe don’t have to have the bad conscience.
The Royal Couple are still often out on assignment. It is no “extra load” to work together with the husband, rather the opposite thinks the Queen. She seems to enjoy their fellowship and says: - It is very nice when we are together, and there has also developed a teamwork where we only have to glance at the other and we know exactly how the other is thinking. We can support each other. In that way it’s very nice.
- It is a big difference when I’m out myself, compared to when we can share an assignment. It’s very straining to be in the focus alone even if it can be for a good cause. It takes a lot of self-discipline and concentration. One meets many people who take for granted that one knows exactly who they are and what they have done. When we are together we can support each other. If one of us forgets, the other one can remember.
There seem to be an eminent closeness between the Royal Couple when one sees you out together now?
The Queen looks a bit embarrassedly happy and says: - Yes, it feels like it.
The Royal Children’s love lives are constantly put under speculations. A short time ago, Crown Princess Victoria’s boyfriend Daniel Westling was appointed to Prince by one evening newspaper. One can wonder how much the Royal Couple have to say when it comes to the children’s choices of husband or wife. - Yes, well we have to see, says the Queen and laughs in good spirit.
- I really don’t know how it will be. I just hope that the children will be happy, and then we will see what happens. But I wish that one wouldn’t speculate as much as some papers do. I think it’s unfair, unjust, if one does that and pressures young people so much. I think one should respect them and let them develop a relationship or friendship alone.
We agree that all children of the world should have the same chance to develop and grow up in peace and liberty. The Queen put attention to the problem with children who are exposed to pornography and paedophilia already in the beginning of the 1990’s. - I thought it was so terrible and a big humanitarian issue who upset everyone, also me – even if some thought that I was commenting in a political way, which wasn’t the meaning. But these children were so exposed, and that’s why I brought up the issue on UNESCO’s meeting in Paris in 1995.
A natural consequence to the Queen’s strong commitment was the World Childhood Foundation that was founded in 1999. In Brazil, all projects that the foundation supports have to do with working again sexual assault and the exploitation of children.
My translation of an interview with Queen Silvia from the magazine Tara (released recently)
I thought of that when we were in Brazil and stopped at a red light on our way from Salvador to the little fishing village Arembepe. A 14-yearold pregnant girl at the side of the road in vain tried to sell guava fruits to the road users, and my friend Irma sighed dejectedly. - Soon another child will be born to the street.
But there is hope.
I met Eugenio, 18, who grew up in one of Salvadorís most violent suburbs. He came to Cria, another organisation that Childhood supports, when he was 15. There he got to work with theatre, and was motivated to continue his education. - Most of my friends in the same age at home have become criminals or died, he said. It was enough to open the front door to see a dead person. But I have received help here and know that I want to work with the education of youth, culture and social work in the future.
The Queen has similar experiences from her visits at Childhoodís projects in Brazil. Her face becomes vibrant and the gestures more sweeping when she tells about them. - I visited a project in the north of Brazil, where many paedophiles are attracted. The girls had been sexually used and except help from psychologists and doctors, they got help and confidence by working with dance and theatre. These girls went out to the schools themselves, and acted out the situations they had been put too.
The Queen also tells about a meeting with a poor mother in a shantytown. Her daughters had been exposed to sexual assault by their stepfather and they lived without protection in a room without a door and windows. - The mother was in a terrible situation and could not alone protect her daughters. But despite not being able to give them food, she made sure they came to school. Our children are the most important thing we have, she says, and they have to get education to go on. That womanís pride and stubbornness also became the rescue for the girls. They came in contact with Childhoodís project and got help and a faith in the future.
That the Queen burns for these issues is obvious. She gladly discusses them with her close ones, and especially with the King. - I think that itís important that he is involved and knows what I do. I often ask what he thinks of different things.
Trafficking from Russia and the Baltic states, where Childhood is also involved, is a big problem also in Sweden Ė something that touched and upsets the Queen. - Many people have seen the film ďLilja 4-everĒ which made trafficking understandable and described how the situation can be for the girls. But it canít just stop there. We all have a responsibility to resolve these difficult issues.
- Myself, I am of course very shocked at what is happening. It is beyond my sense to understand that men can use helpless, exposed and weak children in that way.
How does the Queen cope with not being affected with dejection and inability to take action? - The work is both joyous and hard, she says. It is hard when I speak to the children and hear what has happened to them, how they have lived and been exploited. Then I wonder how anyone can harm a child like that. On the other hand, when I talk to children whom have been though hell, but whom have received help from doctors, psychologists and others, and suddenly can believe in a life afterwards, and then it is positive. Children can have an enormous power within them.
The Queenís position and title separates her from Taraís other readers, but the gender and maturity unites. There is a power in being a mature woman. - Yes, she says. Maybe one has another dimension on life, a greater experience. To be more tolerant and to bring others into the picture can be a question of maturity. Itís also easier to put boundaries on a nuanced way and to argue for what one wants. The world is not as black as when I was young.
The Queen smiles: - Maybe one becomes wiser.
Are there things that the Queen wish she would have know when she was 25? - I might be more down to earth now, she says amused.
- I couldnít know how my life would turn out when we married on 19 June 1976. I couldnít even imagine, even if the King had given me four years to think. I had been to Sweden before, met his friends and a part of the family, but of course it was hard to imagine how my life would be like. The only thing I thought about was that I had to do the best I could.
The Queen has six years of professional experience, among things from the Olympic Games a short while before the became Swedenís Queen. - It helped me, because it was very interesting and wide ranged. One was often put in new situations. It was a part of my work then, and it is now too: Iím constantly put before new tasks and situations. Everything is new, every day is new, itís exciting!
Even the Queen has role models in the practice of her profession. - There are several, for example Queen Margrethe in Denmark. I think she is a fantastic person. But of course Queen Ingrid has also meant a lot. Unfortunately she isnít alive anymore, but she was a wonderful, warm and wise person.
The Queen herself looks to be in top shape. She laughs delightedly and says: - Thank you, I think itís because of my daily work programme. I donít do anything extra. I would for example like to have time to go to the Royal Dramatic Theatre more often, but there isnít much of that.
But the fixation on looks and the increasing interest and fixation on sexuality in the society canít escape the Queen.
- It is a strange phenomenon, I must say. I really like beautiful and well kept women and men. Of course one should be able to feel beautiful, nice and fresh, but when it goes into becoming absurd, itís very strange.
The Queen believes that there are national temperaments to a certain degree. - If I should generalise, the Swedish temper is balanced. But there are both. There are people whom are very impulsive and those who are more careful or controlled.
- Myself, I might have inherited a Brazilian heart and a more German head, she says.
So heat or passion and discipline. It must be the heat from the Brazilian heart whom every now and then reaches her eyes and breaks thought the controlled carefulness so that one almost melts.
H.M. Queen Silvia Age: 62 Family: King Carl XVI Gustaf, 59, Crown Princess Victoria, 28, Prince Carl Philip, 26, Princess Madeleine, 23. Lives: Drottningholms Palace Works with: Represents the Royal Family at State Visits abroad and official trips in Sweden. Works for childrenís rights in the society and world, for example through the World Childhood Foundation, Mentor Foundation, Mentor Sweden, The Foundation Queen Silviaís Jubilee Fund for Research about Children and Handicap and The Foundation The Royal Coupleís Wedding Fund. The Queen is also an honorary member of a large number of organisations and societies, for example The Childrenís Cancer Fund. Does on the spare time: Likes to go to the theatre, opera and concerts. Swims and likes to ski in the winter.
My translation of an interview with the King, published in Metro yesterday 21 December 2005
Metro Sweden meets King Carl XVI Gustaf
Susanna Popova meets Carl XVI Gustaf in an exclusive Christmas interview – the King about speeding, relationships and the tsunami.
As a parent, one tries to avoid making the same mistakes as one’s own parents. But probably one makes a few totally different ones. Which are likely to have been made by the King? - The youngsters, or children, change all the time. And as a parent, it’s about feeling the balance and change together, with respect for both sides. In many parent’s eyes the children are always children. But now they are youths.
The King is a little brother. What kind of self-apprehension does that give? - In most families, the older children experiences that the younger ones get more freedom than they received themselves. But I was the only boy and also attended boarding school and moved from home when I was 11-12 years old. That also characterizes one. Afterwards I have heard that people thought there were too many women at home, and that there was no father, so boarding school was supposed to be good. Therefore I haven’t experienced any rivalry in the sibling group.
In connection with the tsunami, the King shared memories of abandonness from his own childhood. That immediately created a contact between the King and the people. How did the King apprehend that? - I think that we all experienced the difficult days for the struck people down there in a way that we all wanted to help and support. The most difficult thing for us all was that we were too far away, and we really wanted to do much more. But we all helped each other in working with the sorrow.
The Royal House thanked Thailand for the help after the tsunami in the shape of a gift consisting of fishing boats. Whose was the idea? - We met people and discussed, and one thing led to another. Let’s hope that it worked out for the best. This fall we met both the Ambassador and the Consul, and they keep a close contact with the local people. Help to self-help is what I consider the best thing to get around to working on one’s loss. I received a model boat of the fishing boats they received as a thank you. But there are many people whom have contributed in many different ways.
Before that, the King was on a trip to Australia and met Swedish local businesses in design, interior decorating and furniture and fashion in Sydney. What kind of Swedish furniture can be sold there? - Swedish design is simple and clean in its style, with boat cheap and functional goods. They are not too complicated or expensive, and I think that the functionality is often appreciated. Maybe the Swedish is also thought of as exotic.
The titles at the Royal Court are kept because they are a part of the cultural heritage. What else in the cultural heritage does the Court preserve? - The whole business at the Royal Palace is a cultural heritage; we live in a cultural heritage. The other palaces and the Royal Collections are also a part of the heritage that we watch over and care for. Everything put together, the Court is a cultural watching institution that we are proud of. The responsibility for this is one of my main tasks as I feel.
Princess Lilian helped to save the life of a man a few weeks ago. “That’s how she is” was the comment. The Royal Court’s 90-year-old member still seems to be the toughest of them all? - Haha. I don’t know how much she participated, I have just read about it in the newspaper. There was a doctor there. And we always have one in service during dinners; things can happen at large gatherings of people.
Why is it fun to drive fast? - I still think it’s fun, and I have the chance to do it at many different tracks, not only in Sweden. And I think it’s good. One learns, so I gladly do it. Many people with me think that it’s nice. I gladly practice the sport with friends.
The King likes to hunt and be in the nature. But why is the nature so fun, really? - I can’t say that the nature is especially funny. It is incredible graceful and a sensitive being. It would be wrong to say that it’s fun. If we meet the nature in the right way and with gentleness, it will give back in its own way. And if we don’t treat it well, it can’t give back in the right way. Both when it comes to agriculture and forestry, it’s important that we have a mutual relationship to the nature. We see what has happened when it comes to the climate changes. It is how we treat Mother Earth that we now get to pay for. Despite that I’m not worried, and one shouldn’t be, because there is a chance to turn around the trend we are in. The human being is a wise being who can master this. But sometimes one wonder how we people are created when one sees how they can act towards each other… In that regard we’re not really learning. We must always be open and observant to what is happening and try to help each other.
Which is the King’s favourite TV programme? - If I can go back in time then it’s “Tekniska Magasinet” (translates to “The Technical Magazine”, a programme about technical things), which once existed. That was really good.
The King has just been in India. Some think that India with its developing force is a threat to the business life in the west, but what can Sweden learn from India? - In India there is an incredible work speed with many working hours per week. The tempo matters, but so does education. India produces 1,2-1,3 million professionals every year. Out of them, around 200 000 are diploma engineers and technicians. That is of course important for the competitiveness, and in Sweden we have to consider how we can see our future. We were a whole delegation that travelled, with people from Sweden with different backgrounds. We discussed some, and one thing we agreed on is how proud they are in India over what they have created. And that’s an important rule, to be proud. We should also be proud over what we stand for and do, the technical level we have created in Sweden.
The King held several speeches a day during the trip in India. The gossip says that they were brilliant and that fellow travellers were converted to royalism. Is it easier to don’t have to have scripts and speak from the heart? - That was too much to say… No, it’s not easier to speak from the heart, because one always have to bee well prepared. Preparations are needed in order to be spontaneous. It doesn’t last in the long run to be spontaneous at larger events, it can be dangerous. I held short thank you speeches that connected to what we had experienced. One must know what group one is speaking too and feel what is sensible to say. It is actually difficult.
The British Royal House has received criticism for lacking contact with the present time. How does the King do to understand our times? - My motto is “For Sweden with the times”, and it is meant to be a guiding star. In some contexts one tries to be in the lead without being pushing. It’s about having a feeling for things, but not too much.
Both the British and Dutch Royal Houses have produced some scandals in modern time. How does the Swedish Court act to spare the Swedish Royal House and air of scandals? - There are no scandals.
Who is the King’s favourite King? - Karl XIV Johan. I think it’s interesting that his background and experiences, before he came to Sweden, made it possible for him to help Sweden in a new direction. Sweden was in bad shape and he managed to turn into a modern politics. He was really taken here to start war, but didn’t fall for that trick. It was his enormous experience of destruction that made him steer away from war.
Who is the most fun Swede? - Fibban, a character that was created by Stig Järrel. He was elegantly mean and sharp, and could without hurting anyone, criticise certain phenomenons. Now so called funny things often lack humour, and strike below the belt, very clumsily only foolishness.
Next year the King turns 60 and SVT will live broadcast. How does it feel to celebrate your birthday together with the Swedish people? - It is all very secretive… I am supposed not to know about the surprises…
Now it is Christmas again. What is best with it? - Maybe one doesn’t feel the same excitement as when one was a child. And unfortunately it can get quite stressful for us all. Already in November one starts with everything. It’s dangerous to set the goal too high. The idea is that one should get a calm and peaceful moment. I had time to attend church on the first of Advent this year, and in the church one can get a still moment.
Great translation! Thank you so much GrandDuchess!
I'm glad to hear the King's speeches in India were converting the members of his delegation to "royalism" rather than making them want him to abdicate like after the Brunei fiasco. I think it just shows what a raw deal he got in Brunei and what an excellent King he is.
I also like his response to the question about scandals: - There are no scandals.Ha ha, very to the point.
Interview with the king in Sydsvenska Dagbladet part1
I have taken some time to translate an article / interview published in Sydsvenska dagbladet last saturday. It is only available in the paperedition.
The sixteenth turns sixty
Article / interview in Sydsvenska Dagbladet by Lena Rainer
On the eve of his birthday Swedenís King Carl XVI Gustaf answers questions on humour, leadership, parenthood, public outcrys, "Hey-Baberiba"-jokes, eco-friendly cars, scouting, media Ė and retirement.
When Swedenís King Carl XVI Gustaf turns sixty on Walpurgis night he will enter what is known as "the upper middle age", a time when most people start thinking about retirement and handing over to the successor....
But not the King!
It isnít the right and proper thing that I would retire and it is nothing i considers or discusses he says distinctively.
When we discussed the issue ten years ago in an interview on the eve of his fiftieth birthday the king joked away the question on and leaving place for Victoria and said roughly
We Bernadottes sits for a long time and that will be a boring period for the crownprincess.
Now the King instead talks about Victoriaís right to get an education and increase her knowledge for her coming mission.
She does that rather well, it gives her perspective and it is easier to get some distance when you have more experience.
Does the king give any royal advise?
I havenít got that far yet.
The crownprincess maybe sees me as a role model, watches and wants to learn more all the time. She keeps he self informed on what happens in society and learns new things all the time. She has some ideas of her own as well of course.
A royal pensioner is nothing we will see for a while. The king by the way is not eligible for pension or sickness benefits.
That a reigning monarch gives interviews one after another on the eve of his sixtieth birthday is internationally unusual but have become a Swedish tradition after the successful attempt before the kings fiftieth birthday when the King made himself available during a month first for individual interviews with the big dailies, then the weeklies in a group as well as international media.
Then Sydsvenskan was last of the interviewing dailies. Now we are first and while we are waiting for the majesty the Kings Aide in camp Hans Tornťrhjelm gives some tidbits about the King.
He tells us among other things that the King nowadays has his own pocket money (he didnít use to have that, it was the aide in camps duty to be available and pay the kings small expenses) and that the king often listens to the radio channel P1, readily "Ring P1", where he is interested in what goes on in the depth of the Swedish people.
When the King arrives, very late which is unusual, he is very unhappy and sits down on the sofa:
Iím sorry I got that late, but I have at an lunch test eaten a dinner menu that we might serve in conjunction with the sixtieth birthday. No no, donít try to ask about the dishes, he says when he sees that Iím about to ask.
Royal menus are at least as secret as the menus of the Nobel dinner.
Twice before have i interviewed the king at the castle, and the environment is unchangingly the same.
We sits in a room beside the kingís office near the eastern entrance at Stockholmís Castle. In the gold- and green patterned sofa lies as usual the button for quickly calling in bodyguards or the aide in camp if something unexpected would happen.
Period furniture, drawers with Chinese figurines and grand chandeliers, slightly drab landscape paintings and a clock which crisply tolls every half an hour gives atmosphere to the airy room.
On the windowsill is lots of animal sculptures that looks like they comes from the World Wildlife Fund and in front is the newest acquisition; a half a meter long copy of the wooden boat the king donated to the thai people after the tsunami. Above everything a cut glass chandelier with 24 candles casts a mild light.
The new press- and information secretary of the court Nina Eldh sits ready to supply facts.
The king as usual looks like an advert for the menís style council; impeccable grey suit, white shirt, light grey silk tie with white dots on, fluffy handkerchief in the breast pocket, golden wristwatch with leather armband and a ring with a coat of arms. His hair is slightly thinner and greyer than ten years ago.
Ten years ago we wrote that he was slim as a bamboo and the slim look is well preserved. It is unbelievable that he can keep that slim considering all lunches, dinners and testeatings.
Right now in march the king keeps in shape with spontaneous ski-trips in the surroundings of Stockholm when there is an hour empty in the program, that as already been revealed by the aide in camp.
Old clichťs about the king having "grown into the royal suit" and "become king for his crown" seems dusty when one remembers that he has been king for almost 33 years and thus has long surpassed his predecessor Gustav IV Adolfís 23 years on the throne (1950-73). And it is actually only ten years until he breaks Gustav Vís record (1907-50) of 43 years as king.
The king says about entering the upper middle age and turning sixty:
It doesnít feel anything at all. Every day is a new day that turns into history and doesnít make much difference.
However the sixtieth birthday is a milestone to hang up oneís life around, both what has been and the future, before and after so to say.
And it is a nice opportunity to thank family, near and dear, friends, the public administration and all of the Swedish people for all the support I have got since the last interview when I turned fifty.
We talks about the ten years that has past and dramatic events like World Trade Center, the Anna Lindh murder, the Tsunami and the storm Gudrun.
So much happens during ten years and it has really happened so horrible, unpredictable and unexpected events. In the light of this we have to try to consider how we should be able to prepare our self for similar events, for the unpredictable. It is hard but we have to try.
The Royal familyís deep devotion after the tsunami manifested itself with massive presence at mourning services, manifestations, charity concerts, attending the return of the victims return to Sweden, a trip to Thailand several discreet visits to Astrid Lindgrenís childrenís Hospital to comfort children that had lost their parents.
However straightest into the hearts of the Swedish people went the very personal speech when the king spontaneously told about his sympathy for the children who had lost their parents and gave his own testimony about how hard it is to grow up without a father.
From having been a scolded (Brunei) and rather manhandled monarch he suddenly stood in media as a father of the people and a uniting symbol of the country.
How did this sudden popularity feel?
The king wriggles with embarrassment and says that it is hard to describe.
We were all in a state of shock and from this position we asked questions to each others how this horrible thing could happen.
I felt that I wanted to try to soothe the sorrow. That is the role of the monarch in difficult situations, to as much as possible, try to unite the nation, family and all the people who has a hard time.
Iím an impartial and non political person and unifying symbol of the country. I hope that I can unite these roles.
Interview with the king in Sydsvesnka Dagbladet part2
Almost exactly a year earlier the king was, to put it mildly, scolded in media for his infamous remarks about the sultanate Brunei being among other things " a more open country than any other one can imagine".
The newspapers ran headlines as if a war had broken out, editors were furious, political scientists talked about a constitutional crisis and prime minister GŲran Persson had to walk up to the palace to demand an explanation.
The king expressed his regret, explained and tried to put things right.
How did the king take the public outcry and all the scolding?
Well, naturally I was surprised by the reaction. It was not what I had intended. I tried to be a non political and as objective analyst as possible and tried to answer in a way that was intended to be understood completely different from as it was. It wasnít meant as a political statement but rather as a reflection.
After the information secretary of the court, Elisabeth Tarras-Wahlberg rushed to relief, as so many times before, and pointed out that the expressions that had been used was largely the same as in a PM from the foreign ministry the storm abated.
The king could take a breather and possibly take comfort in the piece of royal advice he long ago got from Gustav VI Adolf: there should always be room for some humour.
Humour is one of the few things that can be a help on the way. Some matters are difficult and serious and demands seriousness, but a touch of humour can help to get some distance to things and make you manage awkward situations, the king says.
I asks for an example on how the king with humour have eased the tensions when citizens got to solemn or tense and the situation had to be lightened up with an easier touch.
That is something others have to tell about.
But he admits that he hasnít always had the ability, maturity and the strength to take the corners wide:
It takes a confidence in your self for that. But if you have a foundation, to stand on from your upbringing, ethics and morals so you dares to take your turns wider than if you havenít got that.
Have the king got more confident in his self by the years?
He laughs loudly and admits:
Well after all these years....
And surely there is a difference to be king today and how it was 33 years ago when the king at 27 years of age on that September day succeeded the 91year old king Gustav VI Adolf.
It is different in many ways. The society have changed and we with it. Naturally I have changed, I can hardly remember how old I was when I became king. Oh yes I was 27 years old and that was very long ago.
I was actually younger then than the crownprincess is today and when I reminds her of that she uses to become terrified.
What I can sense in the change of the kings behaviour since I first interviewed him in 1993 about his role as a father is, apart from that he always used to refer to him self as "one" instead of "I" and that he have become much more resolute in his way of Ė not Ė answering.
The king draws a strong line between his two roles: as being king and being a private person. As soon as anything get close to his private life he pulls down an imaginary blind around his person and answers avoiding.
But today, with his newly found self confidence and possibly with the support of the people in the back of his head, he is much more resolute:
You may not ask that.
I donít dare to answer that.
I donít want to answer that.
He says that clear and resolute without trying to avoid the questions. When I for instance asks the king if he is content with our current constitution he answers:
That is a question I dare not answering and it is a very difficult question. As difficult as the question: how do you create the perfect society, a question that has been discussed for thousands of years.
To lighten up the questioning we brings a couple of "Svensson-questions" from the whole of Sydsvenskans editorial staff, questions about whether the king can live as an ordinary Svensson.
Some of them the king answers honestly, sometimes laughing out loud, sometimes with amazement.
How does the king boil the perfect egg (from our food editor)?
Oh, I rarely boils eggs, I mostly do scrambled eggs.
Which boxed wine does the king prefer (from our wine editor)?
I donít dare to answer such a question because then it becomes advertising. But I drinks boxed wine readily, currently French.
How come that the king who cares so much about the environment always drives so fuel consuming cars (from our car editor)?
No that isnít any good. Alas I donít always practice what I preaches.
Does the king pack his suitcases himself?
Yes, at least when Iím going home. But to be honest itís both and. Often itís a very large travel program, large organisation and lots of things that should be brought and then we in the family gets help.
Which of the queenís dresses have the king liked the most (the palace exhibits queen Silviaís 29 nobel dresses this summer)?
There have been so many. Even if I could think of one I couldnít describe it because Iím not very good at describing dresses. It is so much easier if the public comes to Stockholmís Palace.
There it became advertising anyway...
Does the king get annoyed if one says "du" ?
Not annoyed, but I thinks about it and remembers it.
Doesnít the king ever get under stress?
I donít know, well, yes, no. Not right now but sometimes.
How the king behaves under stress is nothing he wants to talk about. However he reveals that his bad morning temper that everyone in the kings vicinity have told about is now a thing of the past.
It has become better by the years, I think.
That the king fills up his car himself, that the royal couple really can shop for Christmas presents themselves to their children at the department stores early in the mornings and that the king, who loves costume parties, never have tried to mask himself and go out on the town incognito was things we were told before his fiftieth birthday.
When the king 13 years ago talked with Sydsvenskan about his role as a father, how it felt to become a father of teenagers, he expressed deep worry about the ravaging of drugs which he meant was ubiquitous in society.
One shouldnít believe that royal teens, protected by SńPO-guards and limousine doors, were more protected than anyone else.
Today that worry is gone and the king notices that he doesnít feel any worries for his children anymore.
Now it is primarily about them finding assurance in their future task and how that will develop is something neither they nor I knows about. Carl Philip is still studying graphic design at Forsbergs school and even if Madeleine is finished with her exam she is learning about UNICEFís work in New York until this summer.
What she will to next autumn I donít know and thatís true about the "young man" as well. Maybe he will improve himself abroad. The crownprincess continues with her studies in political science with various glimpses into society.
Maybe not worried, but slightly concerned is what the king is about that the three royal youngsters constantly is the subject of "romance"-articles and speculations.
Itís probably a natural part of life that you at that age gets friends, but sadly it is hard to avoid media writing about it and that is trying, it really is.
It is significantly worse than when I was young. The media has become more numerous and tougher. The pressure and interest is greater.
To hiss about it as the court have done a couple of times isnít of much help, the king thinks.
No I have done that so many times, he says and shrugs his shoulder with resignation.
The "Hey Baberiba.-"teamís inordinate joking about the royal family is something the king definitely dislikes.
I donít think the programs are that funny and we have talked about them within the family. Of course you have to put up with being joked about. But if they does so continuous in a series then itís not a joke any longer, then it is a deliberate, well, persecution is a to strong word, but a deliberate Ö. No, I cant find the word.
After a while it becomes humour based on peoples disabilities and it becomes very hard to be serious afterwards, to act officially.
Does the king get sad by the programs?
I havenít seen all, but yes we gets sad over how we are portrayed. Maybe I handles it well myself, but Iím not alone and the family maybe perceives it in a slightly different way, that it really doesnít relate to reality.
Interview with the king in Sydsvenska Dagbladet part 3
Something the king is happier to talk about than cruel television programs is his two major interests of life: scouting and the environmental issues.
The king has been a scout for 50 years and have since begun as the wolfs child Mowgli in 1955 managed to be both first honorary member of the Swedish Scout Federation and honorary chairman of the World Scout Foundation.
What is it that is so fun with scouting? (This is the kings dream question and he overflows with narrative joy.)
My interest in scouting has actually grown by the years, but it began when I was an active little fellow myself. It was a nice way of being together with friends in your own age in an informal way, learning by doing. You were allowed to play to find knowledge in various fields Ė and thatís the great thing about scouting. And that you are together and helps each other.
In recent years the most interesting thing about scouting has been the possibility to take part in integration work in various fields. Remember that there are thirty million scouts in the world , of whom ten million are Muslims, all youngsters with different backgrounds, cultures and religions.
It is a fantastic network, to use a modern word, and all these youngsters who may not have found their friends or interests yet, can feel a great security on all different jamborees.
The latest big Swedish jamboree by the way was held outside Kristianstad. I remember it so well because the weather was warm and dry. The usual in scouting context is that it is always raining.
The first rule in the has been: "A scout shows reverence for God and his words". It has now been changed to "a scout searches for his faith and respect others".
An excellent example of how the society changes all the time and that one wants to keep up with social change, says the king.
One can by the way say that the scouting movement was the first environmental movement since scouts are brought up to care about the environment and respect both people and nature.
So itís not strange that the king so to say have got the environmental issues with the mothers milk. Today he is very happy that there is progress in the work against global warming.
Thirty years ago environmental and energy issues was more philosophical. But now the researchers works actively and in a concrete way with the issues and they are on the agenda everywhere with the direction that "now we have to be successful with this".
I have no suggestions, no standard solutions. But that one sees to a wide spectrum of opportunities, tries to use all energy sources there are, heat exchangers, geothermal heat and other technologies, that lots of money is spent, and that lots of research is going on everywhere is very positive. One shouldnít rule out any possibility, everyone could contribute with his little piece of the puzzle.
The king himself is going to get cows for meat production and breeding at his manor Stenhammar in SŲdermanland.
Then there will be by-products which can be mixed in a suitable mix to get gas that can be used to heat the buildings at the estate.
In LinkŲping there are buses and cars that runs on bio-gas, made from among other things slaughter-refuse. But we will try with ordinary rubbish at Stenhammar. So far itís a wish but we will se what happens.
The royal family is always flooded with invitations to various events, jubilees, seminars and lots of other things. Earlier the court used to accept almost all invitations they got. Today itís different.
Thatís just what I donít want, say yes to everything, but instead being more active myself, work outwards and seek for important problem areas, institutions and others. I does that among other things with our theme-days, when we brings in people for discussions about subjects of great interests or visits different institutions.
Among other things the royal couple has visited RosengŚrd in MalmŲ (a neighbourhood with many immigrants and high unemployment, translators note) and the Arlanda customs, discussed energy questions, crime prevention, the social organisation of the future among other things.
But it is ridiculously difficult, sorry about the expression, to find time to these theme-days since there is so many other things that demands attention.
The royal couple has divided the issues between themselves so the queen "takes care about" medical and social issues as well as handicap issues while the king "takes care about" technology and research, environment, business, defence and industry among other things.
We have of course been criticised for being conservative and rigid in our choices but we will continue with these roles. So no, the queen wonít attend building exhibitions in the future either.
At last, what is nicest about being king?
When things are going well for Sweden. Right now we have experienced it in the fields of sport, both in winter sports and indoor sports. When the economy is doing well, unemployment decreases and the Swedish people feels well and is happy.
I'm not very familiar with the Swedish language...can someone explain to me what this means and why it's significant. Does saying "du" to the king offend him or something?
Du = you.
When talking to a royal one should use their title, in this case "Kungen" (The king) or perhaps even his majesty. Saying "Ni" is also ok, however Iīm not really sure what that would be in english
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