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Sweden's King Carl Gustaf turns 70

April 30, 2016

Swedes lined the streets of the capital Stockholm for a day of pageantry and color to mark King Carl XVI Gustaf's 70th birthday. The king has been on the throne for 43 years.

Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and wife
Image: Getty Images/AFP/C. Olsson

King Carl XVI Gustaf's birthday started with a service in the palace chapel attended by his family and royal visitors from Japan and across Europe.

Throughout the day, the monarch, along with thousands of Swedes, was treated to a tightly choreographed military parade and a gun salute.

The king was cheered by onlookers as he reviewed the royal guard and later, rode through the capital, Stockholm, in an open horse-drawn carriage. Together with his family, Gustaf then appeared on the palace balcony, cheered by thousands.

Local media described how the king was visibly moved, when at Stockholm's City Hall, he was greeted by a choir singing the Beatles hit "All You Need Is Love" - with the guests joining in.

Guests for his 70th birthday included the former Dutch queen, now Princess Beatrix, of the Netherlands, Spain's ex-King Juan Carlos, Denmark's Queen Margrethe and Japan's Princess Takamado.

But members of the Norwegian royal family canceled their trip after a helicopter carrying North Sea oil workers crashed on Friday near Bergen, Norway's second biggest city.

Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf
Image: Getty Images/AFP/TT/M. Suslin

Born on April 30, 1946, Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus Bernadotte was only nine months old when his father, Prince Gustaf Adolf, was killed in a plane crash in Denmark. He assumed the throne in 1973 following the death of his grandfather, the long-reigning Gustav VI Adolf.

He married German commoner Silvia Sommerlath three years later. They have three children and five grandchildren, with Crown Princess Victoria next in line to the throne.

But the king has for many years struggled to shed his image as a car-mad playboy after being thrust onto the throne at age 27.

His popularity nosedived after newspapers alleged that he had visited strip clubs, resulting in a poll showing that many believed he should abdicate in favor of the 38-year-old Victoria. He has dismissed the idea as nonsense.

mm/tj (AFP, AP)