Swedish queen files complaint against satirical artist who painted her scrubbing a swastika
Sweden’s German-born Queen Silvia has filed a complaint against four publications that last year printed photos of a satirical artwork depicting her trying to scrub a swastika off the floor, the palace said Wednesday.
“We can confirm that the queen has filed a complaint with the Press Council,” a professional body that rules on appeals in disputes with the media, palace spokeswoman Annika Soennerberg said.
“We won’t make any other comment until the Council has made a decision,” she added.
Soennerberg said she did not know when the Council would publish its ruling.
Swedish press reports on Wednesday said a first complaint by the queen to a lower authority, the Press Ombudsman, had been rejected, which was why she was now appealing the case to the Press Council.
The artwork is a collage showing King Carl XVI Gustaf overlooking the naked body of pop singer Camilla Henemark, together with a group of people eating pizza off her, while the queen kneels on the floor scrubbing a swastika.
Some of the people in the collage were named in an unofficial tell-all biography that shook the Swedish monarchy two years ago, including claims the king had a year-long affair with Henemark in the 1990s and details of his alleged partying at dubious clubs, one of which was owned by an ex-convict.
The picture is controversial even in a country that cherishes its freedom of speech.
The artist behind it, Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin, is known for sparking controversy, making headlines most recently last year in Serbia with her exhibition “Ecce Homo”, featuring photos portraying Jesus among homosexuals, transsexual people and people with AIDS.
Four publications that printed the picture — tabloids Aftonbladet and Expressen, regional daily Sydsvenskan, and the Tiden magazine published by the Social Democratic party — were targeted by the complaint, Expressen said.
Expressen’s editor-in-chief Thomas Mattson published a picture of the complaint on his blog, in which the queen denounced “the particularly grave and indefensible accusations”.
In 2010, the highly-popular German-Brazilian queen spoke out for the first time about her German father’s membership in the Nazi party, saying he was a “civilian” member and not a soldier.
The Press Ombudsman, Ola Sigvardsson, would not confirm the media reports that the queen’s initial complaint had been rejected.
“The complaints are confidential throughout the entire process in order to protect the plaintiff,” he explained.