Leopold Hoesch
Julia Melchior
1 x 45'
Königliche Dynastien
Die Bernadottes

While many dynasties have had to relinquish their crown, one family has held on to the throne for two hundred years: the Bernadottes in Sweden. They enjoy great popularity, also thanks to the "commoners" who have married into the royal family and are widely perceived as an enrichment: Silvia Sommerlath, Daniel Westling or Sofia Hellqvist. The founder of the dynasty was also bourgeois: Jean Baptiste Bernadotte from Pau in southern France. "Death to kings", this slogan is said to have been emblazoned as a tattoo on his upper arm when he was still fighting the monarchy during the French Revolution. At the time, he could not have imagined that the impetuous Frenchman would one day be chosen as King of Sweden. Twenty years later, when Sweden's monarchy was facing a succession problem and Napoleon was setting the tone in Europe, the Swedes saw him as a wise choice for Stockholm's throne. Napoleon's swashbuckler brought peace to the Swedes and established the peace and neutrality policy that still characterises the country today.

Folke Bernadotte, the great-uncle and godfather of today's King Carl Gustaf, made a name for himself as an ambassador for peace. As vice-president of the Swedish Red Cross, he negotiated with Heinrich Himmler for the release of thousands of concentration camp prisoners. In 1948, the United Nations appointed him as the first UN mediator and sent him to the Middle East to find a peaceful solution to the Palestinian question. A short time later, he fell victim to an attack by Jewish terrorists. "He was also the first UN ambassador to die for the cause of peace," recalls former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The life and work of Folke Bernadotte has always fascinated Crown Princess Victoria. Even as a student, she was concerned with efforts to uphold human rights and resolve international conflicts. She named her daughter and heir to the throne Estelle after Folke Bernadotte's wife, who continued her husband's humanitarian life's work after his death. With Crown Princess Victoria and daughter Estelle, the first women from the Bernadotte dynasty will one day ascend the Swedish throne.

Based on several outstanding biographies - from the bourgeois progenitor to the descendants who now reside in the Stockholm palace - Julia Melchior's film takes us through the eventful history of the Bernadottes with opulent images. Computer animations (CGIs) and re-enactments bring the most important historical key moments back to life.

First broadcast: Tuesday, 26 July 2016 at 8:15 p.m. on ZDF

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