Sunday, 26 January 2014

The heirs of 1914: Sweden

In 1914, the Swedish heir to the throne was among the oldest of the men waiting to be king.  He was also the only one who was married and the only one to have children.  Of all the heirs, he might have expected his royal life to fade the soonest but Gustaf Adolf, in fact, ended up ruling well into the last half of the 20th centuries and saw many of his fellow heirs of 1914 lose their crowns or renounce their thrones while he was still waiting for his.

Gustaf Adolf of Sweden is seen meeting some footballers in England at some point between 1910 and 1915.  He became Crown Prince of his country in 1907

Oscar Frederik Wilhelm Olaf Gustaf Adolf was born in 1882, the eldest son of Gustaf of Sweden and his wife, Victoria of Baden.  When Gustaf became the fifth king of that name to rule Sweden in 1907, his new Crown Prince was 26 years old and already married with children.  By 1914, Gustaf Adolf and his wife, Princess Margaret of Connaught, had been married for nine years and had three sons and a daughter.  While his fellow heirs were still completing their educations, Gustaf Adolf was becoming well known for his passions for botany, archaeology and sport.

The Crown Prince and Princess of Sweden in 1912 with their newborn son, Bertil, and their three other children - Gustaf Adolf, Sigvard and Ingrid

The heir of 1914 had another 36 years to wait before he became king and in the meantime he would lose his first wife, marry again and lose his only son in a plane crash in 1947.  His reign lasted from 1950 until 1973 and he would be succeeded by his grandson.  But in 1914, Gustaf Adolf was one of the few adult heirs in Europe - and no one could have guessed that he would still be ruling when most of the others had faded into history.

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