Nothing that has appeared in this book is surprising in itself. The surprising thing is that it should be published at all. In Sweden, this kind of information just doesn't get printed, not even in the tabloids. It's circling as gossip and of course it's on the internet. But it's never been like Britain. There are some scandals, but in general everyone is given their privacy.
So this is an exception. But hopefully it will change things more permanently. We really need a more critical conversation about the monarchy, because it's a discussion we simply never have.
But the media and the monarchy have a mutually-beneficial relationship. The monarchy simply couldn't exist today without the enthusiasm that the newspapers generate and the newspapers need them to sell copies. It's not that we're huge royalists – we just think they're nice to look at and no big deal. But now at last people are perhaps starting to question what kind of culture this is surrounding the king; a culture that seems to be roughly where it was a century ago. There's a bit of disgust at this idea that he can do what he likes because of who he is. Sometimes we in Sweden have been able to look at Britain and see how your royals are treated and feel glad that we are different; and think that Britain is much more ridden by class than Sweden. We've been able to forget that our society is affected by class, too. And these stories make that crystal clear – the difference between the king and those girls is profound.
The big question now is whether there will be a long term effect and I think there might very well be one. There have always been royal scandals, of course, as far back as the 18th and 19th Century. But the internet, among other things, has made for quite a different atmosphere around stories like this.
And this book's publication just shows how the media landscape has changed.
The author is a media historian at Lund University and co-editor of 'Media and Monarchy in Sweden'