DAILY BRIEFINGThe Moron's Daily Briefing
Aug. 8 - Today is the Queen's Name Day in Sweden and the 28th anniversary of Richard Nixon's resignation as President of the United States. Because this is an American Almanac, I have opted to ridicule foreign pomp rather than pick at domestic scars. Today's briefing will therefore instruct the reader on the curious institution of the Swedish Monarchy.
The current Queen of Sweden is Queen Silvia. She is married to King Carl XVI Gustaf Folke Hubertus, of the Bernadotte Dynasty. They have three children: Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip, and Princess Madeleine.
Since 1974, the Swedish Constitution has ruled that succession in the royal family should go not to the eldest male heir, but the eldest heir of either sex. Victoria is therefore the Crown Princess and will some day be Queen.
It is difficult for someone as antipathetic to the institution of monarchy and as apprehensive of the nefarious Swedes as I am to behold the young and lovely Crown Princess. It is difficult to think of her as the "titular head of state" without blushing.
Every crowned head of Sweden has been permitted to select his or her own motto for the period of their reign. These mottos provide an abstract history of the forces at work on and within the Swedish monarchy, and are easier to review than actual events, people, or political papers.
The practice apparently began in 1523, with Gustav Vasa selecting the motto, "All Power is of God." His successor, Erik XIV, elaborated further that "God Gives to Whom He will."
The first Swedish monarch to ditch God from the motto was Sigismund (1592-1599), whose optimistic phrase was "For Justice and the People." This from a king who wanted to rule Sweden from Poland, and was finally repelled by force of arms. (He continued as king of Poland until 1632.) The next two mottos were "In God I Trust" and "With God and Arms Victorious," the latter coming from Sweden's first legless king, Gustav II Albert.
The next Godless motto came from the celebrated Queen Kristina (1632-1654), who proclaimed (probably sarcastically) that "Wisdom is the Prop of the Realm." She abdicated in 1654 and dashed around Europe on a white horse, wearing men's clothing and studying philosophy. It was nearly a hundred years before anyone else chose a motto that didn't mention God.
During that period, mottos included "In God My Destiny - He Shall Perform It," "The Lord is Become My Defender," "With God's Help," and "In God My Hope" (twice).
Adolf Frederik, who ruled from 1751 to 1771, reigned with the secular motto, "The Prosperity of the State my Felicity." His successor was more nationalist, choosing "The Fatherland." In 1792, God made his last appearance in the Swedish motto, and one can sense the changing political tide implicit in Gustav IV Adolf's "God and the People." His successor, Karl XIII, chose "The Good of the People my Supreme Law." The so-called People subsequently received all the obsequeties previous reserved for the deity, only to be gradually supplanted by Law, Truth, and Duty through the middle of the last century.
The current king's motto is "With the Times," an interesting variation on Rudy Giuliani's former motto, "With the Post."
Today is the birthday of Donny Most (1953), Keith Carradine (1949), Connie Stevens (1938), Dustin Hoffman (1937), Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer (1927), and Esther Williams (1923).
© 2002, The Moron's Almanac