Sweden’s royal Bernadotte family is recognizing its 200 years of leadership. No other Swedish royal family has ruled so long, and in no other European country has the same branch of the same family under the same name ruled over a free and independent country in peace as long as the Bernadotte family.

In 1810, an extraordinary parliament was gathered to elect a successor to the throne. The childless Karl XIII, older brother of Gustav III, whose adopted son, Crown Prince Karl August died earlier the same year in a riding accident, was to adopt a new heir to the throne. There were several candidates but after deliberations in a secret committee the government proposed French Marshal Jean Baptiste Bernadotte (1763-1844) as heir to the Swedish throne. The election would mark the end of the Holstein-Gottorp dynasty and the beginning of the present Bernadotte dynasty on the Swedish throne.


Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was born into a bourgeois family in southern France. He wanted to go into the military but because he was not of noble status he could not become an officer. He has served in the military for 11 years before the French Revolution broke out and then all talented young men could advance regardless of their background. Within two years Bernadotte rose from captain to general, with a high post as a Napoleonic marshal, and he even ruled over a large part of Germany as governor of Hamburg-Bremen-Lübeck.

It wasn’t uncommon to look in other countries for worthy heirs and Sweden found Bernadotte, offering him a position as Crown Prince of Sweden. He was unanimously elected by Sweden's parliament, became a Protestant and assumed the Swedish name Karl Johan. With him the throne was secure in his 14-year-old son Oscar, who would later become King Oscar I of Sweden and Norway.

The 200th anniversary has been celebrated for several years, marking various occasions related to other dates from the beginning of the Bernadotte dynasty in Sweden. This year, on February 5, a seminar titled "Bernadotte 200 years" will be hosted by H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf, H.M. Queen Silvia, H.R.H. Crown Princess Victoria and H.R.H. Prince Daniel at the Royal Palace. www.kungahuset.se