Supreme Commander of The Swedish Armed Forces - Historical Background

Historical Background

In earlier times, the King was expected to command the forces himself; not seldom on location during war campaigns as shown by Gustavus Adolphus and Charles XII. This remained the case formally until the 1930s.

In 1936, a Supreme Commander other than the King was intended to be appointed in war-time-only, and on 1 December 1939, during World War II, the first Supreme Commander, General Olof Thörnell, was appointed. In 1942 it was decided to keep this office even after the end of the war. The Supreme Commander would in wartime formally report to the King in Council until the enactment of the new Instrument of Government in 1975, and after that to the Government.

Although the Minister for Defence heads the Ministry of Defence, the Minister cannot as a general rule issue directives in his/her own right to the Supreme Commander or any other agency director-general in the defence portfolio due to the Swedish prohibition on ministerial rule, unless such authority is provided for in specific statutory provisions.

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