Queen Silvia of Sweden
Silvia (born Silvia Renate Sommerlath; 23 December 1943) is the queen of Sweden as the spouse of King Carl XVI Gustaf. She has held this title since her marriage to the king in 1976. She is the mother of the heir apparent to the throne, Crown Princess Victoria.
|Queen consort of Sweden|
|Tenure||19 June 1976 – present|
|Born||Silvia Renate Sommerlath|
23 December 1943
|Mother||Alice Soares de Toledo|
|Religion||Church of Sweden|
Childhood and parentage
Silvia Renate Sommerlath was born in Heidelberg, Germany, on 23 December 1943, the only daughter of Alice (née Soares de Toledo) and Walther Sommerlath. Her father was German and her mother was Brazilian.
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, is named after her brother.
She has some fluency in Swedish Sign Language, a national sign language used by the deaf community in Sweden. 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.
Marriage and family
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. 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 in Stockholm Cathedral ("Storkyrkan Cathedral") in Stockholm. 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.
The King and Queen of Sweden have three children and eight grandchildren:
- Crown Princess Victoria, Duchess of Västergötland (born 14 July 1977), who is married to Daniel Westling and has two children
- Prince Carl Philip, Duke of Värmland (born 13 May 1979), who is married to Sofia Hellqvist and has three children
- Princess Madeleine, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland, (born 10 June 1982), who is married to Christopher O'Neill and has three children
Father's alleged Nazi links
In July 2002, the Queen was bothered by becoming 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. 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.
Queen Silvia commissioned a report from World War II expert Erik Norberg, a choice which was criticized 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. In a December 2011 interview for Channel 1 with Sweden's public service broadcaster Sveriges Television, Silvia called media's handling of the information about her father "character assassination".
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.
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. She has also been involved in the Global Child Forum, which she helped initiate, as a keynote speaker in several forums.
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.
Queen Silvia holds honorary positions in the Swedish Amateur Athletic Association, the Children's Cancer Foundation of Sweden and Save the Children Sweden.
Honours and arms
Queen Silvia as consort
|Reference style||Her Majesty|
|Spoken style||Your Majesty|
- Member of the Royal Order of the Seraphim (LoK av KMO)
- Member of the Royal Family Decoration of King Carl XVI Gustaf, 1st Class
- Recipient of the 50th Birthday Badge Medal of King Carl XVI Gustaf
- Recipient of the Wedding Medal of Crown Princess Victoria to Daniel Westling
- Recipient of the Ruby Jubilee Badge Medal of King Carl XVI Gustaf
- Recipient of the 70th Birthday Badge Medal of King Carl XVI Gustaf
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Liberator General San Martín
- Grand Star of the Decoration of Honour for Services to the Republic of Austria
- Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold I
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Southern Cross
- Member 1st Class of the Family Order of Laila Utama
- Grand Cross of the Order of Stara Planina
- Grand Cross of the Order of Bernardo O'Higgins
- Grand Cross of the Grand Order of Queen Jelena
- Knight with Collar of the Order of the Elephant
- Recipient of the Silver Anniversary Medal of Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik
- Grand Cross with Collar of the Order of the White Rose
- Grand Cross of the Order of Honour
- Holy See:
- Recipient of the Benemerenti Medal
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Falcon
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic
- Grand Cordon (Paulownia) of the Order of the Precious Crown
- Grand Cordon of the Supreme Order of the Renaissance
- Knight of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau
- Member of the Order of the Crown of the Realm
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Aztec Eagle
- Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion
- Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Romania
- South Korea:
- Dame Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic
- Grand Cross of the Order of Merit
- Dame Grand Cordon of the Order of Chula Chom Klao
- Member 1st Class of the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise
- Sweden: Lady Grand Cross of the Social Order of the Amaranth
- Germany: The National German Sustainability Award
- United Arab Emirates: Recipient of the Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Motherhood and Childhood Award (November 2016)
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- on YouTube
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- Gala dinner during the state visit of Greek President Karolos Papoulias (21 May 2008)
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State visit of Grand-Dukes of Luxembourg in Sweden, gala dinner (15 April 2008)
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