STOCKHOLM — Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf’s attempt to quash a scandal by rejecting reports he had visited strip clubs and had indirect contact with organised crime was met with skepticism by Swedish media Tuesday.
In a rare, long interview with Swedish news agency TT published late Monday, the 65-year-old king denied a flurry of allegations published in two books and by the media in recent weeks and months, but media reports Tuesday chided him for being too vague and defensive.
“The interview with TT does not make the royal crisis any clearer,” insisted an editorial in Sweden’s paper of reference Dagens Nyheter.
“If the whole story is simply a case of libel, then why didn’t the king come out and say that last autumn? Why did he instead talk about wanting to ‘move on’?” it asked, referring to the monarch’s reaction after the publication late last year of a tell-all biography about him.
The book, “Carl XVI Gustaf, the Reluctant Monarch,” caused an uproar with its descriptions of his participation in wild parties and an affair with a young woman — allegations he finally denied in Monday’s interview, saying “no” no less than 36 times, according to a count by free daily Metro.
The main author of the book, Thomas Sjoeberg, on Tuesday accused the Sweden’s head of state, who has sat on the throne for 37 years, of lying to his subjects.
“It is uncomfortable for me to see how he so obviously stands there lying to the Swedish people in the face… It’s embarrassing,” Sjoeberg told Dagens Nyheter.
Sven-Erik Oesterberg, a spokesman for the main opposition Social Democrats, meanwhile called for an official probe into the veracity of the king’s comments, insisting that “the problem has not been resolved.”
“A more in-depth investigation is necessary into the information and these rumours because it of course affects the state,” of which the king is the top representative, he said in a statement.
Sweden’s two main tabloids also slammed Carl XVI Gustaf’s interview Tuesday, with Expressen plastering “The king’s terrible defence speech” across its front page, and Aftonbladet handing space to a former mafia member to reiterate his claim he has in his possession pictures of the monarch at a sex club in the same shot as two naked women.
The scandal is the latest blow to Sweden’s royal family which has recently been hit by new revelations of the Nazi past of German-born Queen Silvia’s father and Princess Madeleine’s messy break-off last year of a long engagement.