Friday, October 29, 2010

Remembering... Gustav V

The life of King Gustav V is one which is not well-known in North America, yet was as exciting and tumultuous as any in the early part of the 20th Century; he presided over Sweden's transition from executive to constitutional monarchy, and managed to remain King (as well as keeping Sweden neutral) as in their turn first the Kaiserreich and then the Nazis engulfed the rest of Europe...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBorn in June 1858, he ascended to the throne in 1907, following the death of his father Oscar II, just two years after the Treaty of Separation liberated the country from Norwegian rule. Gustav V was the last King to interfere directly in affairs of state, in 1914, over defense spending; he was also the last King to be Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces. Deeply conservative, he was opposed to various democratizing moves which were afoot in the world at the time, Sweden included.

Despite his conservatism (today we might say because of it) he was involved in one doozy of a scandal during his reign, known as the Haijby affair; often accused of collaborationist tendencies (although, to a certain extent, some of these may be blamed on his German wife Victoria), Gustav V occupies an uncomfortable place in Swedish history.
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