Monday, 6 January 2014

King Gustaf V of Sweden as a hunter

King Gustaf V (1858-1950) of  was an avid hunter, who regularly took part in hunts in different parts of Sweden as well as abroad. He still participated in a duck shooting in Drottningholm at the age of 92, just a few months before his death. Particularly King Gustaf enjoyed hunting on the island of Öland, in Scania and in the traditional royal hunting grounds Halle- and Hunneberg.

King Gustaf V (third from the left sitting) and his hunting party in Hunneberg in the fall of 1908. Eric Trolle, then minister for foreign affairs, sits on the King's left side and the man on the right side is count Hugo Hamilton, then minister of the interior.
In November 1908 King Gustaf (who had succeeded Oscar II in 1907) and Queen Victoria made official state visits to Great Britain and France. Hunts were part of the programme in both visits.

In Britain King Gustaf's hunting partner was the Prince of Wales (the future King George V), and in France the hunt, which took place at the Château de Rambouillet grounds, was hosted by Clément Armand Fallieres, then President of the French Republic:

King Gustaf V of Sweden at the hunt in Rambouillet in the fall of 1908.

King Gustav together with his host, President Fallieres.
King Gustaf shot 107 animals of the total of 695 at the hunt in Rambouillet.
(Fortunately, this kind of mass hunts are not anymore organized for royals or politicians).

Halle- and Hunteberg in the province of Västergötland, where King Gustaf often hunted, has quite an interesting history:

Halle-and Hunneberg are two unique tableland mountains in the province of Västergötland. They are like islands in the flat lands and differ from the surrounding area both in history as well as in their rich and unique nature. The mountains are composed of several layers of sedimentary types of rocks which were formed at the bottom of the sea several hundreds of millions of years ago.

In 1351 King Magnus Eriksson made the mountain "a royal park" and 200 years later king Gustav Wasa made a decree that all hunting on the mountains was reserved for the king. As time passed the rules became even stricter. The rights of country people to fetch firewood and timber were suspended. In a way, stricter rules were necessary because the mountains were overused during hundreds of years. In 1830 the first forestry plan was erected. Its purpose was to restore the forest on the mountains. In connection with this, access to the mountains was restricted through gates, and guards were hired to make sure theft of wood ceased. Some of the old cottages in which the guards lived are still there. The mountains have remained in the ownership of the federal government ever since the time of king Magnus in the 14th century. Today, it is still the right of the King to hunt for elk on the mountains, but otherwise many changes have been made. Nowadays, the mountains have become an attraction for tourists and are at the same time an important recreational area for approximately 100, 000 people in the surrounding area.

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