Gustav V (Sweden)

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Gustav V, King of Sweden (1935)
Prince Gustav (around 1897)

Gustav V - full name Oscar Gustaf Adolf Bernadotte - (born June 16, 1858 in Drottningholm Palace , Ekerö ; † October 29, 1950 there ) was King of Sweden from 1907 to 1950 .

Gustav V was the eldest son of Oskar II of Sweden and his wife Sophia of Nassau . Shy, reserved, and loathing pomp, he refused a coronation ceremony, which made him the first "uncrowned" King of Sweden. From 1917 he ruled as a de facto parliamentary monarch.

Foreign policy

Through his foreign policy activities, a close alliance of the Scandinavian states developed during his rule, although Norway had only declared itself independent from Sweden in 1905. Not least because of its foreign policy influence, Sweden was able to maintain its neutrality during the First World War .

During World War II it became a symbol of national unity. Although the king was the head of state, in practice it was more of a discussion partner and advisor to the state and foreign ministers. He could influence nuances of foreign policy. In a dictation on the government protocol in February 1940, for example, he rejected Finland's repeated question whether Sweden would provide military aid in the winter war , in more diplomatic terms than the Minister of State in his communiqué. A political crisis occurred in the early summer of 1941, when he allegedly threatened to abdicate if the Swedish government did not allow the German Engelbrecht division to cross Sweden on the way from Norway to Finland ( midsummer crisis ) . In the years after the war, he was therefore assigned personal responsibility for the “German-friendly” policy of the war years.

Domestic politics

In terms of domestic politics, Gustav initially pursued a conservative policy. So he prevailed against the Liberals in 1911 when he achieved a stronger expansion of the armed forces. Another intervention in daily politics was the speech he gave on February 6, 1914, to farmers loyal to the king who had come from all over the country (Borggårdstalet) . It had not been checked by the Minister of State - which would have assumed constitutional responsibility - and subsequently led to a constitutional and governmental crisis ( Borggård crisis ) . After the resignation of the liberal government of Karl Staaff , Gustav formed a civil service ministry under Hjalmar Hammarskjöld , which remained in office until 1917. He later took back the role of monarch and thus helped Sweden become a parliamentary democracy. In 1917 Gustav played a decisive role - among other things against his own wife - in the implementation of the social democratic demands for democratization through electoral reform. In October of that year, he appointed a government led by Nils Edén with the Social Democrat Hjalmar Branting as finance minister. The wave of revolution that swept across Europe could thus be repulsed.

Crisis of the monarchy

King Gustav V around 1916

Gustav had to defend the monarchy again and again against political forces from the left and from the right. Liberals and democrats, including many free churches , saw the constitution and the monarchy as unsuitable for a successful modern society. Circles that are often referred to as activists in Scandinavian history , however, saw the royal family as too indulgent to the separatist and radical Norwegians, who had "always invented new crises" to end the personal union (1814-1905) between Sweden and Norway . The king's weakness was also criticized for not having entered World War I alongside Germany or not having provided military support for Finland's government during the socialist uprising in 1918.

For the conservative critics Gustav was too democratic, for the activist critics too soft and peaceful, and for others he seemed too conservative. The king's divorced son, Prince Wilhelm, lived with an unequal partner after the First World War , and with only one exception, all of the king's male grandchildren married unequal, which led to repeated conflicts in the family and in the press. The morganatic marriages were ultimately approved, but the princes had to resign from the royal house and renounce royal and noble rights. After the death of Prince Gustav Adolf (son of the then Crown Prince and later King Gustav VI Adolf , father of today's King Carl XVI Gustaf) in a plane crash in Denmark in 1947 , the list of princes entitled to the throne consisted only of the nine-month-old prince Carl Gustaf (today's king) and some older princes who had little prospect of their own sons (see also: Succession to the throne (Sweden) ).

Offspring and personal life

Wedding photo of Gustav with Viktoria (1881)

On September 20, 1881, Gustav married Princess Viktoria von Baden in Karlsruhe , eldest daughter of the Grand Duke Friedrich I of Baden and his wife Luise of Prussia . With this marriage, the Bernadotte dynasty united with that of the house of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf, which had previously ruled in Sweden .

The connection resulted in three descendants:

  1. Margaret of Connaught
  2. Louise Mountbatten

Folke Bernadotte ( Count of Wisborg ) was the king's nephew.

Gustav was an avid hunter and - under the name "Mr G" - an excellent tennis player, Gottfried von Cramm was one of his coaches . After the death of his father he took over the chairmanship of the royal tennis club KLTK. His marriage to Victoria von Baden was cold; Gustav had several homosexual relationships, and Victoria lived mostly in Italy.

King Gustav V is buried in Stockholm's Riddarholmskyrka . He is the last king to be buried in the Bernadotte burial chapel.

Named in his honor are the Prince Gustav Canal and the Prince Gustav Ice Shelf , a strait and an ice sheet off the northwest coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, as well as the King's Line, a railway connection from Berlin to southern Sweden that still exists today.


Charles XIV. John King of Sweden (1763–1844)
Oskar I, King of Sweden (1799-1859)
Désirée Clary (1777-1860)
Oskar II, King of Sweden (1829–1907)
Eugène de Beauharnais (1781-1824)
Josephine von Leuchtenberg (1807–1876)
Auguste of Bavaria (1788-1851)
Gustav V King of Sweden
Friedrich Wilhelm von Nassau-Weilburg , (1768–1816)
Wilhelm I of Nassau (1792–1839)
Luise von Sayn-Hachenburg (1772–1827)
Sophia of Nassau (1836-1913)
Paul of Württemberg (1785-1852)
Pauline of Württemberg (1810-1856)
Charlotte of Saxony-Hildburghausen (1787–1847)

Web links

Commons : Gustav V. (Sweden)  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Archive link ( Memento of the original dated August 13, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. Bengt Liljegren: Rulers of Sweden. Lund 2004, p. 109.
predecessor Office successor
Oscar II King of Sweden
Gustav VI. Adolf