He was a young, shy king but he’s gotten better with the years.
HRH King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden will not retire this coming Saturday, when he turns 65, however.
“I won’t feed the birdies anytime soon,” he says in a new interview. What the king also reveals is that he has battled shyness through all his years as the Head of State, and that it felt very strange when he first became king (at age 27): “I was used to always being the youngest, always standing up when others came into the room. Suddenly others stood up when I entered, and that was very complicated.”
He talks about how the mid period of his reign was the most difficult, when he couldn’t blame mistakes on his youth, but still wasn’t experienced enough to know what to do about them. If he could re-live his youth, he would’ve gotten an education and asked more questions, he explains. Also, he admits that some of the royal traditions can seem a bit bizarre (traveling with horse and carriage in a cortege, for instance), but that he feels it’s important to keep these traditions alive. And he says he felt worry over what he calls “the new Europe”, the growing European Union: “We didn’t know exactly where we (royals) would end up in that. My role, was that to be swallowed up by the new Europe?” The flip side to being a king, he says, is that he can never or rarely be a private person.
“There used to be a certain private sphere, but not anymore. Now I’m an official person almost 24/7, and that’s very tiresome.” During a recent press conference in Botswana, the King joked when asked how the Queen (who had a cold) was feeling: “She is so ill, her ears need to be cut off.”
“You have to face it with humor sometimes,” he now says about that comment. “They write so much lies anyway, it hardly matters what you say.” About the scandalous book “Den motvillige monarken” (The reluctant monarch), which was published last fall, the king says: “Of course it’s not nice to be treated like I was treated in that, and many with me. There were others dragged into it too, and perhaps that’s what was most tragic.” During a following press conference in conjunction with the release of that book, the King was heavily criticized. About that occasion he says: “I knew what I wanted to say (during that press conference), and if others interpret it differently, then that’s something I cannot do anything about.”