King Johan III’s regalia was stolen from Västerås Cathedral during a burglary, and a nation-wide alert has been sent out by Swedish police. “I’m upset and shocked,” says Johan Sköld, chaplain of Västerås Cathedral to Vestmanlands Läns Tidning online. “It’s a huge loss not only for this church, (but for all of Sweden) since Johan was a Swedish king. It’s awful that it has happened.”
King Johan III (1537-1592) was the son of King Gustav Vasa. His regalia was kept in his half-brother Erik XIV’s tomb. The stolen goods include a crown, an orb and a scepter. The thieves entered it by breaking a pane of glass and loosening the device that kept the funeral regalia in place on top of the sarcophagus. “I’m in shock because it was such a purposeful theft,” says Sköld to TT. “Only the regalia are missing. The theft was noticed this morning when personnel arrived to open the cathedral.” The items—copies of Johan III’s royal regalia (which are kept at Stockholm Palace) which were moved from Uppsala in the 18th century—were resting on a pillow. Sköld says they are from the 1590s and doesn’t know their value. “I don’t know how much they are worth in money. They are copies of the real regalia, but they are priceless as a symbol of an earlier Swedish regent. You cannot estimate their sentimental value.” Funeral regalia was used at royal funerals to mark the dead person’s identity and social position. They were placed in or on top of the coffin.
Apart from a nation-wide alert, police also ran a technical investigation of the cathedral in the morning. All Swedish police stations have been notified, as have stations on the borders to Sweden. The items are deemed impossible to sell. “Anyone in the business who’d be offered to buy them would immediately react,” says Kenneth Mandergrehn at Rikskriminalpolisen to TT. Mandergrehn doesn’t believe they are of interest for a collector, either. “Church thefts usually deal with Catholic objects that are stolen and sold abroad. These things don’t fall into that category.” Mandergrehn has seen the regalia but don’t know what materials the items are made of. “I imagine they were made of some sort of precious metal, possibly bronze,” he says.