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Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden

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Title: Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden  
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Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden

Gustaf VI Adolf
King Gustaf Adolf in 1962
King of Sweden
Reign 29 October 1950 –
15 September 1973
Predecessor Gustaf V
Successor Carl XVI Gustaf
Spouse Princess Margaret of Connaught
Lady Louise Mountbatten
Issue Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten
Sigvard Bernadotte
Ingrid, Queen of Denmark
Bertil, Duke of Halland
Carl Johan Bernadotte
Full name
Oscar Fredrik Wilhelm Olaf Gustaf Adolf
House Bernadotte
Father Gustaf V of Sweden
Mother Victoria of Baden
Born (1882-11-11)11 November 1882
The Royal Palace in Stockholm
Died 15 September 1973(1973-09-15) (aged 90)
Helsingborgs lasarett, Sweden
Burial Royal Cemetery, Solna
Religion Lutheranism (Church of Sweden)
Gustaf Adolf as Crown Prince and Duke of Scania

Gustaf VI Adolf (Oscar Fredrik Wilhelm Olaf Gustaf Adolf, 11 November 1882 – 15 September 1973) was King of Sweden from 29 October 1950 until his death. He was the eldest son of King Gustaf V and his wife, Victoria of Baden, and had been Crown Prince of Sweden for the preceding 43 years in the reign of his father.

Gustaf VI Adolf was a lifelong amateur archeologist particularly interested in Ancient Italian cultures. Later in his life he was a keen supporter of civil rights, meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Stockholm.


Gustaf Adolf photographed with his younger brother Vilhelm in 1885.

He was born at the Royal Palace in Stockholm and at birth created Duke of Skåne. A patrilineal member of the Bernadotte, he was also a descendant of the House of Vasa through maternal lines. Through his mother Victoria, he was a descendant of Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden of the deposed House of Holstein-Gottorp.

Crown Prince (1907–1950)

Gustaf Adolf became Crown Prince of Sweden on 8 December 1907, at the death of his grandfather, King Oscar II.

In 1938 he was elected an honorary member of the Virginia Society of the Cincinnati.

Reign (1950–1973)

On 29 October 1950, Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf became king at age 67 upon the death of his father, King Gustaf V. He was at the time the world's oldest heir apparent to a monarchy. His personal motto was Plikten framför allt, "Duty before all".

During Gustaf VI Adolf's reign, work was underway on a new Instrument of Government – eventually taking effect in 1975 after the king's death – to replace the 1809 constitution and produce reforms consistent with the times. Among the reforms sought by some Swedes was the replacement of the monarchy or at least some moderation of the old constitution's provision that "The King alone shall govern the realm."

Gustaf VI Adolf's personal qualities made him popular among the Swedish people and, in turn, this popularity led to strong public opinion in favour of the retention of the monarchy. Gustaf VI Adolf's expertise and interest in a wide range of fields (architecture and botany being but two) made him respected, as did his informal and modest nature and his purposeful avoidance of pomp. The monarchy was, however, made subordinate to a democratic state. Additional powers of the monarch were removed when Sweden's constitutional reform became complete in 1975.

The King died in 1973, ten weeks shy of his 91st birthday, at the old hospital in Scania, close to his summer residence, Sofiero Castle, after a deterioration in his health that culminated in pneumonia. He was succeeded on the throne by his 27-year-old grandson Carl XVI Gustaf, son of the late Prince Gustaf Adolf. His death came only days before the election of 1973, which is suggested to have swayed it in support of the incumbent Social Democratic government.[1] In a break with tradition, he was not buried in Riddarholmskyrkan in Stockholm, but in the Royal Cemetery in Haga alongside his two deceased wives.

Personal interests

Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf meets some English footballers (c. 1910–1915).
The King's reputation as a "professional amateur professor" was widely known; nationally and internationally, and among his relatives. Gustaf VI Adolf was a devoted archaeologist, and was admitted to the British Academy for his work in botany in 1958. Gustaf VI Adolf participated in archaeological expeditions in China, Greece, Korea and Italy, and founded the Swedish Institute at Rome.

Gustaf VI Adolf had an enormous private library consisting of 80 000 volumes and – nearly more impressively – he actually had read the main part of the books. He had an interest in specialist literature on Chinese art and East Asian history. Throughout his life, King Gustaf VI Adolf was particularly interested in the history of civilization, and he participated in several archaeological expeditions. His other great area of interest was botany, concentrating in flowers and gardening. He was considered an expert on the Rhododendron flower. At Sofiero (the king's summer residence) he created one of the very finest Rhododendron collections.

Like his son, Prince Bertil, Gustaf VI Adolf maintained wide, lifelong interests in sports. He enjoyed tennis and golf, and fly fishing for charity.

Family and issue

King Gustaf VI Adolf with his second wife Queen Louise in the 1950s.
Then Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf with his first wife Crown Princess Margareta and children in 1912.

Gustaf Adolf married Windsor Castle. Princess Margaret was the daughter of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught, third son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of the United Kingdom.

Crown Princess Margaret died suddenly on 1 May 1920 of an infection following surgery. At the time, she was eight months pregnant and expecting her sixth child.

He married Lady Louise Mountbatten, formerly Princess Louise of Battenberg, on 3 November 1923 at St. James's Palace. She was the sister of Lord Mountbatten and aunt of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. It was Lady Louise who became Queen of Sweden. Both Queen Louise and her stepchildren were great-grandchildren of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.

King Gustaf VI Adolf and Crown Princess Margaret of Sweden had five children:

Name Birth Death Notes
Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten 22 April 1906 26 January 1947(1947-01-26) (aged 40) died in a plane crash at Copenhagen Airport, father of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
Prince Sigvard, Duke of Uppland 7 June 1907 4 February 2002(2002-02-04) (aged 94) later Count Sigvard Bernadotte af Wisborg
Princess Ingrid 28 March 1910 7 November 2000(2000-11-07) (aged 90) later Queen of Denmark; wife of Frederick IX of Denmark and mother of the present Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece
Prince Bertil, Duke of Halland 28 February 1912 5 January 1997(1997-01-05) (aged 84) married Lillian Davies, no issue
Prince Carl Johan, Duke of Dalarna 31 October 1916 5 May 2012(2012-05-05) (aged 95) later Count Carl Johan, Bernadotte af Wisborg.

Gustaf Adolf's second marriage to Louise produced only one stillborn daughter on 30 May 1925.

While his first wife visited her native Britain in the early years of their marriage, it was widely rumored in Sweden that Gustaf Adolf had an affair there with operetta star Rosa Grünberg.[2] Swedish vocalist Carl-Erik Olivebring (1919–2002) in a press interview claimed to be an extramarital son of Gustaf VI Adolf, a claim taken seriously by the king's biographer Kjell Fridh (1944–1998).[3]

King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden was the grandfather of both his direct successor King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark.

Titles, styles, honours and arms

Styles of
King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden
Reference style His Majesty
Spoken style Your Majesty
Alternative style Sir

Titles and styles

  • 11 November 1882 – 8 December 1907:His Royal Highness The Duke of Skåne, Prince of Sweden.
  • 8 December 1907 – 29 Oktober 1950:His Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Sweden, Duke of Skåne.
  • 29 Oktober 1950 – 15 September 1973: His Majesty The King of Sweden.

His title used in official documents was: Gustaf Adolf, by the Grace of God, Sweden's, Gothia's and Wendia's King (Swedish: Gustaf Adolf, med Guds nåde, Sveriges, Götes och Vendes Konung).


This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the Italiano WorldHeritage.


Official Orders
Quasi-Official Orders
Official Medals
  • King Oscar II:s Jubilee Commemorative Badge (1897)
  • King Oscar II:s and Sophia's Golden Wedding Commemorative Badge (1907)
  • King Gustaf V:s Commemorative Badge for his 70th birthday (1928)
  • King Gustaf V:s Commemorative Badge for his 90th birthday (1948)
  • Crown Prince Gustaf's and Victoria's Silver Wedding Commemorative Badge (1906)
  • The Medal Illis Quorum Meruere Labores of the 18th size


Honorary degrees
Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf receives his doctor's diploma as an honorary doctorate from the University of Chicago from the university's president, Professor Max Mason, 1926

In 1918, Gustaf VI Adolf received an honorary doctorate at Lund University, in 1926 an Honorary Doctorate at Yale, Princeton and Clark Universities, at Cambridge in 1929 and in 1932 at the University of Dorpat.


Upon his creation as Duke of Skåne, Gustaf Adolf was granted a coat of arms with the arms of Skåne in base. These arms can be seen on his stall-plates both as Knight of the Swedish order of the Seraphim in the Riddarsholmskyrkan in Sweden, but also the Frederiksborg Chapel in Copenhagen, Denmark, as an Knight of the Danish Order of the Elephant. Upon his accession to the throne in 1950, he assumed the Arms of Dominion of Sweden.

As prince of Sweden and Norway
and Duke of Scania 1882 to 1905
As crown prince of Sweden and
Duke of Scania 1907 to 1950
Greater Coat of Arms of Sweden,
also the King's coat of arms


16. Charles XIV John of Sweden
8. Oscar I of Sweden
17. Désirée Clary
4. Oscar II of Sweden
18. Eugène de Beauharnais
9. Josephine of Leuchtenberg
19. Princess Augusta of Bavaria
2. Gustaf V of Sweden
20. Frederick William, Prince of Nassau-Weilburg
10. William, Duke of Nassau
21. Burgravine Louise Isabelle of Kirchberg
5. Sofia of Nassau
22. Prince Paul of Württemberg
11. Princess Pauline of Württemberg
23. Princess Katharina Charlotte of Saxe-Hildburghausen
1. Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden
24. Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Baden
12. Leopold, Grand Duke of Baden
25. Luise Karoline Geyer von Geyersberg
6. Frederick I, Grand Duke of Baden
26. Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden
13. Sophie of Sweden
27. Frederica of Baden
3. Victoria of Baden
28. Frederick William III of Prussia
14. William I, German Emperor
29. Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
7. Princess Louise of Prussia
30. Charles Frederick, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach
15. Augusta of Saxe-Weimar
31. Maria Pavlovna of Russia


  1. ^ Jane Magnusson: När Martin Luther King ­träffade kungen. 25 November 2011
  2. ^ (in Swedish) Elgklou, Lars in Bernadotte – historien och historier on en familj ISBN 91-7008-882-9 p. 170.
  3. ^ (in Swedish) Fridh, Kjell in Gamle Kungen Gustaf VI Adolf – En biografi 1995 ISBN 91-46-16462-6.
  4. ^ "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 95. Retrieved 5 October 2012. 
  5. ^ Boletín Oficial del Estado. 1 February 1910. Vol. L, #32, p. 253
Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden
Born: 11 November 1882 Died: 15 September 1973
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Gustaf V
King of Sweden
Succeeded by
Carl XVI Gustaf
Swedish royalty
Preceded by
Crown Prince of Sweden
Succeeded by
Carl Gustaf
Title last held by
Charles XV
Duke of Skåne
Sporting positions
Preceded by
William Grenfell
Edward VII of the United Kingdom
President of Organizing Committee for Summer Olympic Games
Succeeded by
Henri de Baillet-Latour
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