Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia arrived in New Delhi Monday morning on a five-day visit aimed at strengthening bilateral ties. The royal couple were accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
The Swedish monarchy is one of the oldest in the world. According to the website of the Swedish Royal Court, the country has had a monarch for more than 1,000 years.
King Carl XVI Gustaf is the seventh King in the Bernadotte dynasty. He succeeded his grandfather King Gustaf VI Adolf on September 15, 1973, and officially ascended to the throne at a ceremony in the Hall of State at the Royal Palace in Stockholm four days later.
On September 15, 2013, Sweden celebrated the 40th anniversary of the King’s accession.
The functions and duties of the King of Sweden are described in the 1974 Constitution Act, which also defines the working procedures for the Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) and the government.
The 1974 Constitution Act and Riksdag Act describe the duties of the Swedish Monarch as follows:
– The King is the Head of State who heads the special cabinet council held when there is a change of government, and also the regular “information councils” of the members of the government.
– He opens the Riksdag every year.
– He chairs meetings of the Advisory Council on Foreign Affairs, the members of which are appointed by the Riksdag to hold consultations with the government on foreign affairs.
– He holds the supreme rank in each of the service arms of the Swedish defence forces, and is the honorary commander (Colonel-in-Chief) of certain military units.
– As Sweden’s foremost representative in relation to other countries, the King receives the credentials of foreign ambassadors and signs those of Sweden’s ambassadors.
Diplomatic ties between India and Sweden were established in 1949. The two countries enjoy an excellent relationship, and cooperate widely in regional and international fora.
Sweden supports India’s membership of the expanded United Nations Security Council (UNSC). It supported India in its membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and has extended full support to India’s bid for its pending membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
Mutually beneficial economic interests are the major driving force in the bilateral relationship.
According to the website of the Indian Embassy in Sweden, high-level contacts between the two countries began in 1957, when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited Sweden. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi visited Sweden for the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in 1972. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited Sweden in March 1986 and January 1988.
The first-ever State Visit by the President of India was by Pranab Mukherjee, in 2015. This landmark visit took the bilateral relationship to new heights.
This was followed by the visit of the Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to India in 2016. Löfven also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 25 September 2015 in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The leading institutional mechanism of inter-governmental dialogue between India and Sweden is the Indo-Swedish Joint Commission for Economic, Industrial and Scientific Cooperation at the level of the Ministers of Commerce and Industry in India and the Swedish Minister for Foreign Trade and EU Affairs.
During the visit of the President of India to Sweden in 2015, the two sides agreed to reach the ambitious total trade target of US $5 billion by 2018. However, bilateral trade fell to US $1.9 billion in 2016-17, as compared to about US $2.17 billion in 2015-16.