For members abroad
The Swedish Peerage Book (Adelskalendern) documents the lineage of living families that have been introduced into the House of Nobility.
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The Swedish nobility today
The Swedish nobility has just over 28 000 members. There are 657 living families, consisting of 46 counts, 131 barons, and 480 untitled nobles. If all the male members of a family have died it is extinct and all that remains is the coat of arms in the Great Hall. With the Swedish constitution of 1975 the king lost his right to create new nobles.
The nobility is a cross-section of the Swedish population, both socio-economically and geographically. Roughly 26 percent of the members of the nobility live abroad, and constant inquiries are conducted at Riddarhuset to locate people who once left Sweden. There are several examples of branches of families or members of Swedish noble families who have been “discovered” after a long time in different parts of the world.
Organization and main tasks
The name Riddarhuset does not only refer to the building but also to an institution with statutes regulated by the Riddarhuset Order of 1866. Since 2003 the nobility has had no official position in law, functioning solely as an association. However, the nobility has certain shared assets and thus needs a continued organization, even though it no longer has any political role to play.
Every third year a meeting of the nobility is held at Riddarhuset when the principals of each family assemble. A report is given of Riddarhuset’s finances and activities, and any motions are discussed. The meeting of the nobility also elects a directorate with responsibility for administration.
Decisions of the directorate are largely implemented by officers in the Riddarhuset chancellery, some of the tasks being to manage the award of grants from over 330 scholarship and benevolent funds, to answer genealogical queries, to look after the palace and collections, to open the house for visits by the general public, to give guided tours, to publish Sveriges Adelskalender ─ a catalog of the nobility, to update the family trees of the noble families, and so on.
Riddarhuset can also be used by its members as a venue for weddings, dinners, and other festivities. Several of the royal academies hold ceremonial gatherings in the Great Hall. The Great Hall is also used for concerts, lectures, and theatrical performances.
Donations, funds and grants
The assets in Riddarhuset’s funds consist in large measure of securities, but a few foundations consist of forest and agricultural property, including two palaces. Each fund has its special and sometimes rather unusual statutes. What the funds have in common is that dividends mainly go to members of the nobility and that they in many cases are tied to specific families.
All members of the Swedish nobility can apply for grants for studies or for financial aid if considered economically motivated (as defined by the Swedish Tax Agency). The application period is between the 1st of July and the 15th of October each year. During that time you can apply digitally from our website.
One of the most remarkable foundations is Vadstena Adliga Jungfrustift. This is a pension foundation that newborn girls or unmarried female minors can join. As long as they remain unmarried they are maidens of the foundation. The hundred oldest members receive an annual allowance. If one of them marries or dies, a new maiden of the foundation immediately takes her place. A special emblem of the order, a white cross under a blue rosette, may be worn by present and former maidens of the foundation. Parents usually inscribe their daughters at birth, but you can inscribe yourself at any age. For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The genealogical department is an important part of the work at Riddarhuset. This is a large and broad field of activity that can be divided into four main sections: the library, the archive, the pedigrees and genealogies, and the catalogue of the nobility.
The Riddarhuset library mostly consists of specialist literature on genealogy and biography, and it is visited every year by a large number of historians, genealogists, and other interested people. Riddarhuset has an ultra-modern archive for the securest possible storage of valuable and fragile documents and objects. The archive includes the priceless collection of charters of nobility, original documents, and a multitude of other historical documents.
A major time-consuming task is to keep the noble family trees and genealogies up to date. This work has been going on for over 200 years, and it is of great significance for personal history. The family trees contain biographical details of over 325,000 individuals. They are now undergoing a revision that is expected to take several years.
The catalog of the nobility, finally, is published every three years, presenting all the living members of the nobility and the coat of arms of each family with a brief history. It was first published in 1854.
The tasks of the genealogical department also include answering the queries that come in every day from all over the world concerning Swedish noble families, their members, and origin.