Royalty in Scandinavia

Frederiksborg Castle and Gardens, Hillerød Denmark
Richard Clark / Getty Images

If you're interested in royalty, Scandinavia can offer you a whole variety of royalties. There are three kingdoms in Scandinavia: Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. Scandinavia is known for its royalty and citizens appreciate the monarch leading their country and hold the royal family dear. As a visitor to the Scandinavian countries, let's take a closer look and find out more about the queens and kings, princes and princesses in Scandinavia today.

Members of the Swedish Royal Family attend the Nobel Prize Award Ceremony
Pascal Le Segretain / Getty Images

Swedish Monarchy: Royalty in Sweden

In 1523, Sweden became a hereditary monarchy instead of being chosen by rank (elective monarchy). With the exception of two queens (Kristina in the 17th century, and Ulrika Eleonora in the 18th), the Swedish throne has always passed to the firstborn male.

However, in January 1980, this changed when the 1979 Act of Succession came into effect. Amendments to the constitution made the firstborn the heir, regardless of whether they are male or female. This meant that the current monarch, King Carl XVI Gustaf's only son, Crown Prince Carl Philip, was automatically deprived of his position as first in line to the throne—in favor of his older sister, Crown Princess Victoria.

The Danish Royal Family walk through Christiansborg Palace at a gala event
Patrick van Katwijk / Getty Images

Danish Monarchy: Royalty in Denmark

The Kingdom of Denmark is a constitutional monarchy, with executive power and Queen Margrethe II as head of state. The first royal house of Denmark was established in the 10th century by a Viking king called Gorm the Old and today's Danish monarchs are descendants of the old Viking rulers.

Iceland was also under the Danish crown from the 14th century onward. It became a separate state in 1918 but did not end its connection with the Danish monarchy until 1944, when it became a republic. Greenland is still part of the Kingdom of Denmark.

Today, Queen Margrethe II. reigns Denmark. She married French diplomat Count Henri de Laborde de Monpezat, now known as Prince Henrik, in 1967. They have two sons, Crown Prince Frederik and Prince Joachim.

The Norwegian Royal Family attend a ceremony for Nobel Prize awardees
Erik Valestrand / Getty Images

Norwegian Monarchy: Royalty in Norway

The Kingdom of Norway as a unified realm was initiated by King Harald Fairhair in the ninth century. Contrary to the other Scandinavian monarchies (elective kingdoms in the Middle Ages), Norway has always been a hereditary kingdom. After the death of King Haakon V in 1319, the Norwegian crown passed to his grandson Magnus, who was also king of Sweden. In 1397, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden formed the Kalmar Union (see below). The kingdom of Norway obtained complete independence in 1905.

Today, King Harald reigns Norway. He and his wife, Queen Sonja, have two children: Princess Märtha Louise and Crown Prince Haakon. Princess Märtha Louise married writer Ari Behn in 2002 and they have two children. Crown Prince Haakon married in 2001 and had a daughter in 2001 and a son in 2005. Crown Prince Haakon's wife also has a son from a previous relationship.

Ruling all Scandinavia Countries: The Kalmar Union

In 1397, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden formed the Kalmar Union under Margaret I. Born a Danish princess, she had married King Haakon VI of Norway. While her nephew Eric of Pomerania was the official king of all three countries, it was Margaret who ruled them until her death in 1412. Sweden left the Kalmar Union in 1523 and elected its own king, but Norway remained united with Denmark until 1814, when Denmark ceded Norway to Sweden.

After Norway became independent from Sweden in 1905, the crown was given to Prince Carl, the second son of Denmark's future King Frederick VIII. After being approved in a popular vote by the Norwegian people, the prince ascended Norway's throne as King Haakon VII, effectively separating all three Scandinavian kingdoms.

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Mapes, Terri. "Royalty in Scandinavia." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Mapes, Terri. (2020, August 28). Royalty in Scandinavia. Retrieved from Mapes, Terri. "Royalty in Scandinavia." ThoughtCo. (accessed July 25, 2021).