As a Brit with a royal family which only has to sneeze for the paparazzi to go into overdrive, I can’t help noticing the relative coolness with which the Swedes are reacting to the sex scandal currently engulfing (if you can even call it that) their own King Gustaf.
For those who aren’t familiar with the story, a new biography of the King “Carl XVI Gustaf – Den motvillige monarken” (“Carl XVI Gustaf – The reluctant monarch”) reportedly includes allegations of ‘love affairs, wild parties with Swedish models and connections to the underworld’.
According to the reports (and I fully admit to not having read the book) one of the chapters documents the King’s numerous private parties hosted at Club Power, which was run by gangster Mille Markovic in the early 1990s. Apparently, Markovic enjoyed the illusion of legitimacy King Gustaf’s patronage of his club conferred on his otherwise murky dealings.
Juicy stuff indeed.
But the King and the rest of the royal family seem to be emerging from the crisis fairly unscathed, despite the intense media interest.
It can’t hurt that the Swedes are fairly tolerant of their royal family, who are far less rich and generally more low key than some of their counterparts from other countries.
The Swedes also seem to think that their King deserves some privacy. According to a survey commissioned by Sveriges Television, only one in four Swedes believes that journalists have the right to dig up scandals in the King’s private life, while 50% of Swedes think that it is wrong.
And then, there is the way the King dealt with the initial press furore, which only someone with royal blood would have the chutzpah to do. Because he’s the King he was able to summon Sweden’s media to a press conference at the edge of a forest where he had been taking part in the annual elk hunt (one suspects a cull of garden voles would not have provided such a powerful setting).
Then instead of keeping schtum he didn’t even deny the allegations – choosing instead to indicate that he had addressed them with his family and that:
“We choose to turn the page and move forward because, as I understand, these are things that happened a long time ago,” he said.
As always, pundits were divided in their response with some Swedish PRs arguing that the King should not even have dignified the allegations by responding to them (let alone appearing to acknowledge their veracity). Others say he was merely being himself – something the Swedish public value.
King or not, I tend to take the view that if you want to get the media off your back don’t let the rumour mill feed itself. Get out there: don’t defend the indefensible and show the journalists that your team (or in this case, your family) are fully behind you.
And let it be known that you know how to use a large gun.