He was a young, shy king who has become safer over the years. King Carl XVI Gustaf is not planning to retire [as he just turned 65 last week]. “In any case I do not intend to feed birds," he said in an exclusive interview with news agency TT.
In the outer courtyard of Stockholm Palace there are a few tourists wandering around in the spring sun. Inside the castle, in the magnificent floor of the King's late mother Sibylla, the King reflects on his years as head of state. The first time he describes as remarkable. He was only 27 years old and accustomed to stand up when an elder entered the room.
Yet it was not the first years that was the heaviest. Instead, the worst time appeared after a few years on the throne.
“There was a period where it somewhat floated in between, when I neither was young and could hide behind that, or was enough old and experienced”.
If the king had to give some advice to the young Carl Gustaf had been to obtain an education, but also to be curious and ask about things.
Had the King needed to ask more questions in the beginning?
“Yes, but then I was too young and too shy. I was really shy. I've been shy all my life”.
He do not want to say how strong his shyness remains, but says it is "less" now.
“You feel safer and more secure. I know so many and have learned so much over the years”.
The King does not think it is so special to turn 65, but still regards the birthday as an occasion for reflection. There are no plans to step down.
“It is a part of the system that the monarch carries out his work as long as he is in his right mind”.
He believes that the monarcy is more important today because so many cultures co-exist in Sweden.
“In this way you have an even greater responsibility, precisely because there are so many new Swedes, who do not automatically have the Swedish history and the Swedish character in itself "by birth". It is of major importance to try to be a unifying symbol for the nation”.
The disadvantages of being a head of state is as before, according to the King. However, media coverage has become more intense.
"Before, I could have some privacy, but now you are public almost around the clock. Although I was public also earlier, this is more evident. And it consumes, it is heavy and it is tough".
During a press conference in Botswana recently, the King was asked about the Queen's health. The surprising and humorous response came quickly: that the queen was so sick that her ears must be cut off (she had the flue).
“You can see the humor sometimes. Sometimes they write so much that is not ture, so it does not matter what you answer”.
Last fall, there was much writing about the King after the publication of the scandal book “The reluctant monarch”. The book accused the king of, among else, infidelity, and wild parties with young ladies.
“It is of course never nice to be portrayed the way I and many others was. They exposed many others, that is perhaps what is most tragic in the context”.