5 Reasons Why Swedish Kings Were Kinda Jerks

If the Broadway hit Hamilton (which is awesome, by the way) taught us anything, it’s that kings are often jerks. And not just British kings, as I learned on my field study for my Swedish Language and Culture class, but Swedish kings as well. A guided tour through the Royal Palace focusing on power and presentations of power taught me that Swedish kings back then had a lot of power- and they loved to flaunt it. Here are five reasons why the Swedish kings of the past were jerks.

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The Swedish Royal Palace take on Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors

1. They would invite people to dinner parties and then not feed them.

It was a great honor to be invited to the castle, and boy did the king know it. He would invite people to the castle for dinner, but instead of everyone eating only the Royal Family would eat and everyone else had to watch. And these dinners were like 15 courses and 6 hours long. To make things even worse, guests were not allowed to sit. If someone ever pulled that on me, I would, at the very least, never talk to them again.

2. They would invite people to watch them get dressed in the morning.

This has to be the most arrogant thing I’ve ever heard of. And again- it was considered a great honor to be able to witness this. After the king awakened guests would be ushered into his bedroom, where he would emerge from the bathroom ready to be dressed. While servants put on his clothes for him, the king would greet his guests. If you received more than a simple “Good Morning,” you were an honored guest. A “How are you?” was the sign of utmost respect.

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Our tour in the king’s bedroom (although our tour guide was not getting dressed)

3. You had to climb four flights of stairs to greet them.

The king liked to be more powerful than everyone around him. Therefore, when guests would come to visit, he would wait for them at the top of the castle. Visitors had to climb four flights of stairs to reach them, at which point they would be exhausted and out of breath. This automatically placed the king in a position of power over their hyperventilating guest. People need to know their place, after all.

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The staircase one had to overcome to meet the king

4. Even chairs were used to indicate status.

It is important that where you sit reflects who you are as a person. This is the case in the Cabinet Room, where the king will meet with members of the Swedish government. The king sits at the head of the table in the most elegant and comfortable chair. The chairs moving down from him become gradually less comfortable and ornate. Armrests are an important sign of status. When the Crown Princess wanted to join these meetings, great care was taken to find her a chair that not as elegant as the king’s but more elegant than everyone else’s.

5. Every member of the Royal Family received their own Christmas tree.

In the beginning of the twentieth century, the Royal family would be ushered into the grand ballroom Christmas morning to a tree for each member of the family (it is important to note that this was not a small family). As if that weren’t enough, in front of each tree was a table full of presents for that family member. Yeah, there were too many presents to fit under the tree. Sounds like 5-year-old Jenny’s dream.

Thankful I never had the pleasure of meeting a Swedish king,

Jenny

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