Queen Silvia of Sweden

Silvia (born Silvia Renate Sommerlath; 23 December 1943) is Queen of Sweden as the wife of King Carl XVI Gustaf. She has held this title since her marriage to Carl Gustaf in 1976. The king and queen have three children: Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip, and Princess Madeleine.

Queen Silvia in June 2023
Queen consort of Sweden
Tenure19 June 1976 – present
BornSilvia Renate Sommerlath
(1943-12-23) 23 December 1943 (age 80)
Heidelberg, Germany
(m. 1976)
FatherWalther Sommerlath
MotherAlice Soares de Toledo
SignatureSilvia's signature

Childhood and parentage edit

Silvia Renate Sommerlath was born in Heidelberg, Germany, on 23 December 1943,[1] the only daughter of Alice (née Soares de Toledo) and Walther Sommerlath. Her father was German and her mother was Brazilian.[2]

She has one older brother: Ralf Sommerlath (born 1929). Her other brothers were Walther Sommerlath, who died in 2020, and Jörg Sommerlath, who died in 2006. The Mother-Child House Jörg Sommerlath in Berlin, operated by Queen Silvia's World Childhood Foundation,[3] is named after her brother.[citation needed]

She attended grammar school in Düsseldorf, finishing her Abitur in 1963; and attended the Munich School of Interpreting from 1965 to 1969, majoring in Spanish.[1]

She has some fluency in Swedish Sign Language, a national sign language used by the deaf community in Sweden.[4] She is a trained interpreter and Swedish is her sixth language. She speaks her native German, her mother's language of Portuguese, as well as French, Spanish, and English.[2]

Marriage and family edit

During the 1972 Summer Olympics, Silvia Sommerlath met Crown Prince Carl Gustaf. At the time, she was leading a marketing campaign for the city of Munich. Sommerlath and the other Olympic hostesses wore sky-blue dirndls to promote Bavarian cultural identity.[5][6][7][8] After the death of King Gustaf VI Adolf on 15 September 1973, Carl XVI Gustaf succeeded to the throne.

He and Silvia announced their engagement on 12 March 1976 and were married three months later, on 19 June 1976 in Stockholm Cathedral ("Storkyrkan Cathedral") in Stockholm.[9] It was the first marriage of a reigning Swedish monarch since 1797. The wedding was preceded, the evening before, by a Royal Variety Performance, where the Swedish musical group ABBA performed "Dancing Queen" for the very first time, as a tribute to Sweden's future queen.[10]

The King and Queen of Sweden have three children and eight grandchildren:

In February 2021, Silvia was taken to hospital after she fractured her right wrist in a fall.[11]

Father's Nazi links edit

In July 2002, the Queen became the subject of international curiosity when an article published in the syndicalist newspaper Arbetaren reported that German state archives record that the Queen's father, Walther Sommerlath, joined the Nazi party's foreign wing, the NSDAP/AO, in 1934, when he was living in Brazil and working for a German steel company.[12] In December 2010, Queen Silvia wrote a letter of complaint to Jan Scherman, the CEO of TV4, the network that had aired a documentary about her father's alleged Nazi past.[13]

Queen Silvia commissioned a report from World War II expert Erik Norberg, a choice that was criticised due to Norberg having ties to the royal family. In his report, Norberg argued that the Queen's father had in fact helped the owner of the steel-fabrication plant, a Jewish businessperson, escape from Germany by taking over the factory.[14] In a December 2011 interview for Sweden's public service broadcaster Sveriges Television, Silvia called the media's handling of the information about her father "character assassination".[15]

First Lady Michelle Obama and Queen Silvia meet in the Yellow Oval Room in 2009.

Charity involvement edit

Queen Silvia visits Gustav Adolfi Gümnaasium in Tallinn, Estonia in 1992

Queen Silvia established Mentor International in 1994 in collaboration with the World Health Organization. Her vision was to offer mentoring as inspiration, empowerment, and motivation for young people to make healthy life choices and view their futures more positively. Mentor's work has been recognized by the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime, the Organization of American States, and the Council of Europe. She is now an honorary board member of Mentor Foundation.[16]

She was also a co-founder of the World Childhood Foundation in 1999, having been inspired by her work as Patron of the first World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children held in Stockholm.[17] She has also been involved in the Global Child Forum, which she helped initiate, as a keynote speaker in several forums.[18][19]

Her commitment to the work with dementia and the care of the elderly at the end of life is also well known and respected. On her initiative, Silviahemmet was established in Stockholm. It works to educate hospital personnel in how to work with people suffering from dementia, and also initiates research in the area.[20]

She chairs the Royal Wedding Fund, which supports research in sports and athletics for disabled young people[21] and the Queen Silvia Jubilee Fund for research on children and disability.[21]

Queen Silvia holds honorary positions in the Swedish Amateur Athletic Association, the Children's Cancer Foundation of Sweden and Save the Children Sweden.[21]

Honours and arms edit

National edit

Styles of
Queen Silvia
Reference styleHer Majesty
Spoken styleYour Majesty

Foreign edit

Awards edit

Honorary doctorates edit

Queen Silvia has been awarded a number of honorary doctorates, most recently for her work on dementia.

References edit

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  5. ^ Eddy, Melissa (28 September 2013). "Dirndl, Dress of Past, Makes a Comeback in Bavaria". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
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    State visit of Grand-Dukes of Luxembourg in Sweden, gala dinner (15 April 2008)
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External links edit

Silvia Sommerlath
Born: 23 December 1943
Swedish royalty
Title last held by
Louise Mountbatten
Queen consort of Sweden