While the King usually holds a press conference at the conclusion of his annual elk hunt, which ends on Thursday, this year’s event is expected to draw more journalists than usual as it coincides with the release of a new, controversial book about the Swedish monarch.
The book, entitled “Carl XVI Gustaf – Den motvillige monarken” (‘Carl XVI Gustaf – The reluctant monarch’), reportedly provides a rare and detailed look into the King’s private life, including details of love affairs, wild parties with Swedish models, and connections to the underworld.
Written over the last two years by a team of three investigative journalists and authors, Thomas Sjöberg, Tove Meyer and Deanne Rauscher, the book has sparked numerous and wide-ranging debate in Sweden about the limits of the free press and how the Swedish media have covered the King.
After word of the book’s impending release broke earlier this week, Swedish Royal Court officials admitted that the press conference following the annual elk hunt at the Halle- och Hunneberg reserve on the shores of Vänern in western Sweden may be the busiest ever.
As of Wednesday, the Royal Court of Sweden had not yet received advance copies of the book, according to press director Nina Eldh, so it had no comment on the publication.
However, the King has agreed to a press conference on Thursday afternoon, where he is expected to be inundated with many questions unrelated to the elk hunt.
“The King will certainly comment on it in any case,” said Eldh, who is fully aware that there will be many additional journalists at the press briefing this year.
“We have been here before. However, the King is not holding the press conference for the book. It is a press conference for the hunt,” she added.
Anticipation is so great and sensitivity so high that the editor of the Aftonbladet newspaper, which on Wednesday published a summary of some of the allegations detailed in the book, also published a defence of the paper’s decision to publish entitled “Truth or libel”.
“Much of what is claimed in the book has been rumoured for years, but it hasn’t been possible to verify,” wrote Aftonbladet editor Jan Helin.
“It’s relevant to give the public knowledge – not only that Sweden’s head of state has been charged in a new book, but also of what.”
According to the newspaper, the book contains a number of details about the King’s wild parties, an alleged affair, as well as claims that Swedish security service Säpo pressured women to turn over compromising pictures of the Swedish head of state.
One of the book’s chapters tells of the King’s numerous private parties hosted at a Stockholm club run by gangster Mille Markovic in the early 1990s.
According to the book, the King and a group of friends regularly had the club to themselves on Monday evenings for nights filled with elaborate meals and capped with liaisons in a whirlpool with scantily clad women aspiring to be models.
According to Markovic, he enjoyed having the King as a patron because it minimised the chances of unwanted visits by the police.
The book also tells of alleged year-long love affair the King had with a Swedish singer and model. According to the Expressen newspaper, the object of the King’s affection was Camilla Henemark, who was born to a Nigerian father and Swedish mother and who was once a founding member of the band Army of Lovers.
In 1994 she also hosted an erotic-themed programme on Sweden’s TV3 called Seventh Heaven.
The relationship reportedly lasted about a year in the late 1990s and with the knowledge of Queen Silvia.
According to the book, the King was quite smitten by Henemark, who goes by the stage name La Camilla.
“The King sometimes looked like a love-crazed school boy and on one occasion they talked about running away together to an isolated exotic island,” reads the book.
The book also touches on some of the measures employed to ensure the King’s alleged wild side remained hidden from the Swedish public.
In some instances, Säpo agents were deployed to search the homes of different women in order to confiscate pictures and negatives from the King’s private parties.
According to the Aftonbladet report about the book, Säpo agents secretly snooped around in various flats and otherwise pressured women who partied with the King.
“If the rolls of film and pictures and negatives aren’t turned over some unpleasant things will happen,” reads the book.
Speaking with Aftonbladet, Säpo spokesperson Patrik Peter would neither confirm nor deny the allegations.
“We have no information to offer and we’ haven’t read the book,” he said.
The books reliance on anonymous sources, as well as the decision to publish intimate details about the King’s private life, has led to a debate about how Sweden’s royals are scrutinised by the media.
Upon hearing about the book, producers of Uppdrag Granskning, the Sveriges Television (SVT) investigative news programme, met with the authors last summer to discuss possible collaboration.
But the journalists employed by Sweden’s public broadcaster ultimately decided not to join forces with the “Reluctant monarch” authors.
“We decided that we maybe had higher standards for judging sources than what they had,” Uppdrag granskning reporter Janne Josefsson told Expressen.
“The image of the King has been rather one-dimensional and people do not know who he is. I think that in principle, it is good that biographies of this type are written,” Bengt Gustavsson, executive editor of celebrity magazine Hänt Extra, who has not yet read the book, told the TT news agency.
Gustavsson also has no problem with much of the content for the book being based on anonymous sources.
“I assume that they follow journalistic rules and they are not alone in using anonymous sources. That is why there is informant protection,” he said.
Many probably think that exposing this kind of information would be like sitting on a goldmine for gossip columns, but it is not the case, emphasised Gustavsson.
“It has never been commercially feasible for the celebrity press to write negatively about the royal family. People who want to read about the royal family are monarchists and those who are republicans do not buy our publications,” he said.
Sweden’s press ombudswoman Yrsa Stenius said the royal family can be covered like anyone else.
“It is not wrong to write about the royal family as long as it is relevant to the family’s reputation and position. However, it must be accurate. Even the King’s family has a right to privacy,” she said.