The Swedish royal family's hitherto unblemished reputation as a model of regal respectability has been shattered by a new book that portrays the nation's monarch, King Carl Gustav, as an incorrigible philanderer with an insatiable appetite for sex parties and strip clubs.
The book, entitled The Reluctant Monarch, has caused a national scandal in Sweden, a country that has a high regard for its royal family, with many expressing their anger towards the authors in the run-up to publication, which at times appeared to be in doubt.
"We were terribly tense before the book was published," one of the authors, Thomas Sjoberg, said yesterday. "But the book has got through. It has created a media Third World War," he said. The book sold its initial 20,000 print run on the day it was published.
The Reluctant Monarch has exploded the idealised world of Sweden's royal family exemplified earlier this year by the fairytale marriage – watched by millions on television – of the king's daughter, Crown Princess Victoria, to a commoner.
In Sjoberg's book, 64-year-old Carl XVI – a king hitherto renowned for his love of scouting and fast cars – is exposed as a frequent participant at wild sex parties hosted in a Stockholm club by Mille Markovic, a man reported to have links to the mafia.
It also contains sinister allegations that Sapo, Sweden's secret police, worked to conceal the king's activities, kept guard outside his sex clubs and pressurised women to hand over photos and compromising material that would expose him.
The book has also exposed another murky side to Sweden, supposedly a country that champions free speech. Pressure to stop The Reluctant Monarch is said to have resulted in Sjoberg's co-author, Tove Meyer, being sacked from her job in Swedish public broadcasting merely because she was working on the book. Her employers defended their decision by saying that she did not have her contract renewed because she was working on a second, unsanctioned project. But chairman of the Swedish branch of Reporters Without Borders Jesper Bengtsson said: "That Tove Meyer is let go because of her double roles is not enough of a reason. If this is a way to silence somebody who is looking into the Swedish royal family critically, then that is ill-boding. We must be able to scrutinize the royal family the way we scrutinise any other institution, without risking losing our jobs."
Sjoberg's book cites several of the women who allegedly attended the king's sex parties. They describe how elaborate dinners were rounded off with sessions in a communal whirlpool when scantily clad women would "throw off their clothes and sit on the men's laps."
It is claimed that ordinary "suburban girls" were brought to the club where king is said to have "led them on with promises" in order to have sex with them. When that failed the club owner resorted to professional prostitutes. On one occasion, the king – who happens to be the Queen's third cousin – is said to have had sex with two women at the same time. It was "girls à la carte for the king gang", the authors conclude.
Further claims about Carl Gustav's sexual appetite include his having spent some $10,000 at Atlanta's Gold Club night club during the city's 1996 hosting of the Olympics, where he spent two hours in a room with a stripper. The book also details the king's apparently lengthy affair with Camilla Henemark, a Swedish singer and model.
Sjoberg claims that Queen Silvia, Carl Gustav's wife of 34 years knew about the affair but could do nothing because the king had fallen in love "like a teenager" with Ms Henemark and the two were talking about escaping to a distant island to "live on coconuts."
The Reluctant Monarch has been given credibility by the king's reaction to it. Instead of issuing a stern rebuttal to the allegations contained in it, he appears to admit they are true. "I have spoken to my family and the queen and we chose to turn the page and move forward – because, as I understand, these are things that happened a long time ago," he said in a statement.
Most Swedes appear to be shocked to the core by the book's claims. An opinion poll conducted after its publication showed that an overwhelming majority objected to the "negative portrayal" of the king.
However if anything, the scandal seems set to deepen. The ex-Mafia boss and club owner Mille Markovic has claimed to Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper that he made videos of the royal sex parties and was planning to publish them. "It was disgusting how the king made these huge promises to these naïve suburban girls in order to have sex with them," Markovic told the newspaper. "He appeared never to keep his word about helping them with their careers or jobs after he got what he wanted."
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