Swedish royals: It's been a tough year

December 29, 2011 - 9:26 AM

STOCKHOLM (AP) — A book that accused Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf of visiting strip clubs and media reports claiming the queen was on the verge of a nervous breakdown made 2011 a very tough year, the royal family said in a documentary being shown on national television Thursday.

In a series of interviews conducted by national broadcaster SVT, the family said the book, "The Reluctant Monarch," triggered an unprecedented media siege that ended up hurting all of its members, but also brought them closer together.

"It's incredibly painful," Queen Silvia said, describing how she had endured reading headlines about herself suggesting she was depressed and close to a breakdown. "Of course I am disappointed and sad, but I think it has strengthened me, too."

Crown Princess Victoria — the eldest of the royal couple's three children, and the wife of Prince Daniel — said: "It has been a very tough year. It really hurts when your parents get written about in this brusque manner."

The 34-year-old princess, who is expecting her first child in March, also expressed concern about how the critical media climate she had witnessed might affect her new family. "I'm worried about this lack of understanding regarding personal privacy," she said.

The book, released late last year, alleged that the king had had a secret love affair in the 1990s and described how he and his friends frequented private nightclubs in Stockholm where they were entertained by scantily clad women. The book, poorly sourced and brushed off by critics as nothing more than a gossip magazine, also claimed the king had visited exclusive strip clubs during some foreign visits.

The king has denied visiting those establishments.

But the scandal intensified when one of the king's closest friends, Anders Lettstrom, admitted trying to find out what "The Reluctant Monarch" would say about the royal family before its publication by using underworld contacts to talk with some of the criminals the book was quoting. Lettstrom's admission led several Swedish newspapers to question the value of the monarchy, with some calling for the king's abdication.

The king said in the documentary that it has been difficult to deal with all the aggressive attention the book generated and that "you just have to pull yourself and your courage together" to handle it.