King Gustav III
Crown Prince Gustav married the Danish Princess Sofia Magdalena in 1766. They had two sons, Gustav (IV) Adolf and Karl Gustav. However, Karl Gustav died in infancy. The year after Gustav III became king, he regained some of the royal power via a coup d'état.
The king had a great interest in culture, and in 1773 he founded the Royal Swedish Opera as a way of establishing a Swedish operatic and dramatic tradition. In 1786 he established the Swedish Academy and reorganised the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, which had originally been created by his mother Lovisa Ulrika.
Gustav III reformed the state, but criticism against him grew. In an attempt to satisfy public opinion, he waged a war against Russia. However, the war was unsuccessful and led to growing opposition to the nobility. In response, Gustav III – with the help of the three lower ranks – managed to strengthen his power and become largely autocratic.
Opposition to him subsequently grew, and on 16 March 1792 he was assassinated at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm.
Gustav III dressed in his coronation attire, painted by the Swedish artist Alexander Roslin (1718–1793). The painting hangs in the White Salon at Gripsholm Castle, and is part of the Swedish State Portrait Collection. Photo: Nationalmuseum