THE Swedish royal family was last night maintaining a stony silence after it was revealed that the queen’s father was a member of the Nazi party.
Queen Silvia, a German air stewardess who married Sweden’s King Carl Gustav in 1976, has never publicly commented on her father’s past, despite rumours of Walther Sommerlath’s connection to Adolf Hitler’s regime.
And in an interview with the Swedish daily Expressen before the royal wedding, Mr Sommerlath - an industrialist who died in 1990 - denied he had ever been a member of the Nazi party. However, the Stockholm-based newspaper Arbetaren yesterday revealed that he joined the Nazi party in 1934, when he was living in Brazil. The report added that he never renounced his membership of the party.
Arbetaren said that, according to a party membership register kept in Germany’s state archives, Mr Sommerlath joined the Nazi party’s foreign wing, the NSDAP/AO, which was run by Hitler’s second-in-command, Rudolph Hess.
When he joined the party, Mr Sommerlath was working for a German steel company which had interests in Brazil. Arbetaren also claimed that the company, which it did not name, supported the party and even placed pro-Nazi advertisements in the Brazilian press.
Mr Sommerlath returned to Germany in 1938 and bought a steel fabrication plant in Volkingen . It produced components for the German war effort, including parts for Panzers, as well as gas masks.
Sweden retained its neutrality during the Second World War, although German troops crossed the country by train before the invasion of Norway.
Many Swedes, while shocked at the news, were stoical about the revelations.
Erika Karlsson, a 27-year-old office manager, said: "There have been rumours about this for a long time. It is shocking and it is very bad that he lied about his past, but he is not Swedish, so it should not be a problem."
Isak Jonsson, 34, an engineer, agreed. "I don’t think she should be held responsible for something her father did. She was only a baby during the war."
Last night, a spokeswoman for the Swedish royal family refused to deny Arbetaren’s report, but said: "The queen’s father has never been a part of the royal family and therefore I have no comment."
The royal family is popular in Sweden, largely because of their low-key lifestyle, although the two princesses, Viktoria, 25, and Madeleine, 21, are rarely out of the Scandinavian press.