King’s sex­ual pro­cliv­i­ties irk per­mis­sive Swedes

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY DO­MINIC HINDE

STOCKHOLM | A con­gress­man from New York sends lewd pho­tos of him­self over the In­ter­net. A for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date cheats on his ter­mi­nally ill wife. A for­mer Cal­i­for­nia gov­er­nor re­veals he has a love child with the fam­ily maid.

Those pec­ca­dil­loes grab head­lines in Amer­ica, but none is as hot in Swe­den as the sex scan­dal in­volv­ing the king, and it takes a lot to shock the Swedes.

King Carl XVI Gustaf has plunged the monar­chy into a cri­sis be­cause of al­le­ga­tions that he vis­ited strip clubs, al­lowed a friend to pay a gang­ster to cover up the scan­dal and lied to his sub­jects.

The press is at­tack­ing the 65year-old king, and the royal fam­ily is los­ing pop­u­lar­ity among the pub­lic. In an­other blow to the monar­chy, Queen Sil­via an­nounced plans last month for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into charges that her fa­ther was a Nazi.

Carl Gustaf last week com­pounded his scan­dal in an in­ter­view with the Swedish news agency TT. When asked whether he had vis­ited strip clubs, the king was cryptic.

“It de­pends what you mean by sex and strip clubs. It is a rather broad def­i­ni­tion,” he said.

The king’s ex­ploits were first ex­posed in a book by three Swedish jour­nal­ists in Novem­ber. They claimed Carl Gustaf had a se­cret love af­fair in the 1990s and de­scribed vis­its to pri­vate night­clubs in Stockholm where he was en­ter­tained by women in scanty out­fits.

The book, “The Re­luc­tant Monarch,” also said the king went to strip clubs in Slo­vakia in 2008 and in Atlanta dur­ing the 1996 Olympics.

In Atlanta, he and his body­guards re­port­edly vis­ited the no­to­ri­ous Gold Club, a nightspot linked to Amer­i­can mob­sters, high rollers, ath­letes and celebri­ties un­til the fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut it down 10 years ago.

In his TT in­ter view, Carl Gustaf de­nied hav­ing vis­it­ing the clubs men­tioned in the book.

How­ever, de­fense at­tor­neys men­tioned the king’s night out in the steamy rack­e­teer­ing trial of for­mer Gold Club owner Steve Ka­plan in 2001. The trial ended with a plea bar­gain with a three-year prison term for Mr. Ka­plan.

Crit­ics of the book say that it is pure gos­sip and that the al­le­ga­tions do not amount to much.

Swedes have long gos­siped about the king’s fond­ness for women and his ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair dur­ing the 1990s.

Such af­fairs are eas­ily over­looked in Swe­den’s fa­mously tol­er­ant so­ci­ety. How­ever, Swedes dis­ap­prove of bring­ing gov­ern­ment-paid body­guards to strip clubs and ly­ing about it to the pub­lic.

Po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor Peter Wolo­darski drew par­al­lels with the Mon­ica Lewin­sky scan­dal in­volv­ing Pres­i­dent Clin­ton that rocked the United States in the late 1990s, and of Mr. Clin­ton’s fa­mous avowal of not hav­ing had “sex with that woman.”

“It was a state­ment which very nearly cost Clin­ton the pres­i­dency when it later turned out that he had lied,” Mr. Wolo­darski wrote in the Da­gens Ny­heter news­pa­per.

“By giv­ing the press in­ter­view, the king of Swe­den has mul­ti­plied in­ter­est in his own cri­sis. It is the truth which will now dic­tate what hap­pens.”

The news agency in­ter­view was the king’s sec­ond at­tempt to dis­miss the scan­dal. When the book was pub­lished, the monarch used a news con­fer­ence af­ter his an­nual moose hunt to ap­peal for clo­sure on the mat­ter.

“Now we’re turn­ing over a new leaf,” he said.

His words have since be­come the phrase of choice for Swedes jok­ing about their own in­dis­cre­tions.

The scan­dal deep­ened in May, when An­ders Lettstrom, a friend of the king, was recorded talk­ing to sus­pected mob­sters about a pay­off to Mille Markovic, a for­mer owner of a sex club in Stockholm who claimed to have pic­tures of the king with two naked women.

Swedish Ra­dio aired part of those record­ings in which Mr. Lettstrom is heard dis­cussing the pho­tos, some of which have been seen by the com­mer­cial Swedish broad­caster TV 4.

Mr. Lettstrom told the TT news agency that he con­tacted “crim­i­nals” but in­sisted that the king was un­aware of his ac­tions.

Be­cause of the unique con­sti­tu­tional role of the royal fam­ily in Swe­den, the king en­joys im­mu­nity from most laws and can­not be im­peached in the same way an elected pres­i­dent can.

Never the­less, politi­cians from across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum are call­ing for a for­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tion and a par­lia­men­tary tri­bunal.

“The only per­son who can look into this is the monarch him­self, [he] who wishes it to blow over,” said Sven Erik Oster­berg, a So­cial Demo­crat mem­ber of par­lia­ment and a mem­ber of the Swedish con­sti­tu­tional over­sight com­mit­tee, which, he says, has the power to in­ves­ti­gate politi­cians but not mem­bers of the royal fam­ily.

He added that only the king has the au­thor­ity to ini­ti­ate an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of a mem­ber of the royal fam­ily.

The monarch’s wife, Queen

Swedes have long gos­siped about the king’s fond­ness for women and his ex­tra­mar­i­tal af­fair dur­ing the 1990s. Such af­fairs are eas­ily over­looked in Swe­den’s fa­mously tol­er­ant so­ci­ety. How­ever, Swedes dis­ap­prove of bring­ing gov­ern­ment­paid body­guards to strip clubs and ly­ing about it to the pub­lic.

Sil­via, has avoided pub­lic com­ments on the scan­dal. She has been dogged by al­le­ga­tions that her late fa­ther, Wal­ter Som­mer­lath, was a Nazi who ran a weapons fac­tory con­fis­cated from Jewish own­ers dur­ing World War II.

A Swedish tele­vi­sion pro­gram, “Cold Facts,” ex­posed her fa­ther’s past in a doc­u­men­tary in De­cem­ber. At first, she de­nied the charges and in­sisted that her fa­ther ran a toy fac­tory with no con­nec­tion to Jews.

The king’s be­hav­ior also raised ques­tions about the longterm vi­a­bil­ity of the monar­chy, which re­ceives $20 mil­lion a year in tax­payer funds.

Pub­lic sup­port for the king has plum­meted. An opin­ion poll by the TNS-Sifo re­search in­sti­tute pub­lished May 28 showed that 44 per­cent of Swedes want Carl Gustaf to con­tinue as head of state. A year ago, his ap­proval rat­ing was 64 per­cent.

“The monar­chy is so old­fash­ioned and ir­rel­e­vant that it does not mean all that much, but the king has def­i­nitely made a fool of him­self,” said Nik­las Barn­holm, 26, a stu­dent in Stockholm.

Some say the only way to avoid fur­ther dam­age to the in­sti­tu­tion and the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tional monar­chy is for Carl Gustaf to ab­di­cate in fa­vor of his daugh­ter, the pop­u­lar Crown Princess Vic­to­ria.

The king, how­ever, has re­jected such spec­u­la­tion. “By tra­di­tion and cus­tom, that isn’t how it works,” he told the news agency.

Oth­ers ar­gue that it is time to end the 1,000-year-old monar­chy.

“We don’t see any point in re­plac­ing the king with his daugh­ter on the throne,” said He­lena Tolvhed of the Swedish Repub­li­can So­ci­ety, a cit­i­zens group fight­ing for an elected rather than royal head of state. “We want to get r id of the throne it­self.”

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Any­thing goes, but not this: The ex­ploits of King Carl XVI Gustaf, trav­el­ing in a horse-drawn car­riage with Queen Sil­via, have plunged the ex­is­tence of Swe­den’s 1,000-year-old monar­chy into cri­sis.

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