The news that Prince Daniel, Duke of Västergötland has been officially registered with the name Olof Daniel Westling Bernadotte, as I commented on in my blog article of 22 June 2010, has now reached the major newspapers in Sweden. Expressen.se wrote among others about it in an article on 26 june.
But the first one out was actually the Swedish church newspaper Kyrkans Tidning, who published an article on the subject on Thursday 24 June 2010. The paper seems to have been tipped off by Per Westling, who is a development officer for Svenska kyrkans arbetsgivarorganisation (The Swedish Church Employers' Association) and works on his blog Kyrkoordnaren in his sparetime.
I have followed his blog for some time, and read with interest his article on 26 May 2010, where he asked how Daniel Westling's surname was going to disappear when he got married. The legal challenge was that the current name law did not allow a surname to be taken away. Traditionally the members of the royal family don't have a surname and are listed in Folkbokföringen, the National Register, with an asterisk. After reading the article, I put the question on a list of topics for my blog, but didn't get the time to do anything about it before the Swedish Royal Court finally started to update the official website on 21 June 2010 with Prince Daniel's biography (see my blog articles of 21 and 22 June).
I guess most newspaper commentators etc., if they ever thought carefully about the subject, had expected that the established customary law would triumph over the name law. Personally I imagined that a loophole could be found somehow. After re-reading Per Westberg's blog article and then Metro's article of 12 March 2010, which Westberg gave me a link to, I realized that no loophole existed - it was not possible for Prince Daniel to get rid of his surname, which is why he is now the only member of the royal house with a surname.
It is interesting to note that while the king's lawyer, Axel Calissendorf, insists that the royal family has no surname, the Tax Agency, which is responsible for the National Register, is of the opinion that they have, but just don't use it. I find the agency's view to be somewhat self-contradictory, as it has allowed the royals to be registered with an asterisk instead of a surname.
What will happen in the future, then? Kyrkans Tidning mentions that Princess Madeleine was the last member of the royal family to be registered with an asterisk, as she was born under the previous name law. The article refers to konstitutionell praxis (constitutional practice/custom, or perhaps customary law is a better expression) at the time. This could explain why, if I understand the article correctly, also Queen Silvia, whose maiden name was Sommerlath, and Princess Lilian, whose surname when she married in 1976 was Craig, are listed with an asterisk instead of a legal surname. It seems that royals born under the new name law will have to be registered with a surname, which most certainly will be Bernadotte, but I guess we have to wait and see what happens, as the newspaper article didn't comment on it explicitly. As I have said earlier, I think it would be appropriate if all the royals were registered with a surname, as the name law makes it compulsory, but is is probably not a pressing matter.
Let's now wait and see if Norwegian journalists will use their imagination and start examining what the situation is in Norway. The members of the Norwegian Royal Family don't use a surname, with the exception of Princess Ragnhild and Princess Astrid. I have been told that the royals are registered with their title in Folkeregisteret (the National Register) instead of a surname. As the Norwegian name law applies to every citizen, I see no reason why they should be excepted, even if customary law has prevailed so far. According to Dagens Medisin 9 October 2003, the royals' don't even have a personnummer (official reference number) in the National Register. Obviously enough to ponder about!
Updated on Tuesday 25 January 2011 at 08.30 (minor language errors).