Since 1975, the Scandinavian country has been governed by a parliamentary democracy with a hereditary, constitutional monarchy, but the monarchy itself dates back over a thousand years.
Following the death of his grandfather, Gustaf VI Adolf, in 1973, Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus, ascended the throne at the age of 27, becoming Carl XVI Gustaf. Now, 2023 rings in his Golden Jubilee, marking 50 years of his rule. He is the seventh king from the House of Bernadotte and the longest reigning monarch Sweden has seen, having surpassed prior record-holder, King Magnus Eriksson in April of 2018. (According to national archives, King Magnus ruled just shy of 45 years back in the 1300s).
This year also marks the 500th anniversary of King Gustav Vasa’s ascension to the throne (June 6, 1523). Before his reign, Sweden, Denmark and Norway formed the Kalmar Union, under the rule of one king. Vasa broke from the union and is largely credited with establishing an independent Swedish Kingdom under a central power. He also made Sweden the hereditary monarchy it is today—his Vasa dynasty is considered the first of five in total. (It ended in 1654 when Queen Kristina abdicated the throne in favor of her cousin, Karl X Gustav, and with him, the Palatinate Dynasty. Afterwards, Sweden saw the Hesse Dynasty, of which there was just one regent, and the Holstein-Gottorp Dynasty, before coming under the power of the aforementioned House of Bernadotte in 1810.)
A Year of Festivities: Our Guide to Sweden’s Jubilee 2023
A New Royal Portrait
The Royal Court intends to celebrate the milestones accordingly, with a slew of exhibitions and programming. To kick off the Jubilee year, a new portrait of H.M. The King was released in early January. In it, The King stands in his admiral’s uniform next to the 17th-century Silver Throne, a coronation gift to Queen Kristina. The throne represents the entire monarchy and serves as an emblem of dignity.
There will, of course, be a Jubilee exhibition at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. Titled Vasa to Bernadotte: Culture in Service of the Realm, 1523–1973–2023, the show will be a journey through 500 years of monarchy and will highlight a multitude of unique artifacts, each meticulously selected for the way it conveys the history of Sweden’s development and the way court culture actively contributed to it. Expect objects that represent everything from the establishment of a Swedish central government through to the Age of Greatness, as well as educational ideals, parliamentary power and revolutionary and international influences and foreign policy. Selections from royal art collections and an emphasis on Sweden’s longstanding commitment to the environment will feature prominently. It will be on display from March 10, 2023 through January 7, 2024. A corresponding book published by Stockholm printing house Bokförlaget Langenskiöld, will showcase objects from the Royal Collections with insights from Senior Curator Dr. Lars Ljungström and photography from Ralf Turander.
And outside the royal palace the outdoor photography exhibition King Carl XVI Gustaf:50 years for Sweden will run from June to September. It will feature around 40 images from King Carl Gustaf’s time as Sweden’s head of state, including his leading councils, hosting formal audiences, presiding over medal presentations and conducting state visits. (While the photos will not be viewable outside until June, a digital preview of 14 images from the exhibition will be available on kungligaslotten.se after February 9, when the King begins his celebratory tour of Sweden’s 21 regions.)
A Castle Celebrates
On the shores of Lake Mälaren, Gripsholm Castle dates to 1537 and was Gustav Vasa’s residence. Less than an hour’s drive from Stockholm, it is commemorating Vasa’s reign with special programming, including a children’s race, Vasa-themed walks in the castle park, dramatized tours, and lecture series. Programs will cover both the history of the castle and of the Vasa family. English-language tours can be pre-booked for groups beginning in May. This one will be great for families, as there will be a Vasa Trail through the courtyards as well as a family trail inside the palace for children to take part in. There will also be scavenger hunts in which children can search for historical beards and mustaches in the portrait collection—a fun way to tie Gustav Vasa’s striking beard into an educational experience. These daily children’s activities will be available in English as well as Swedish. Tickets for events at Gripsholm will be released on March 1, 2023.
Summer Concert Series
Stockholm’s annual series of concerts and performances will celebrate both jubilees this year. There will be a particular focus on Gustav Vasa on Sweden’s National Day, June 6 and on Gripsholm Castle’s birthday, August 10. More information will be announced as the dates approach.
Where to Stay
Stockholm is home to several of our favorite hotels, including Grand Hotel Stockholm and Ett Hem, which recently expanded into a neighboring townhouse. Learn more about all of Indagare’s Stockholm hotel recommendations.
Contact us or your Indagare Trip Designer to discuss future travels to Sweden.
Sponsored Content: This article was published in partnership with Visit Sweden.