ENTERTAINMENT

ABBA get a prestigious Swedish knighthood for their pop career that started at Eurovision

Jun 3, 2024, 1:20 PM

The artists Björn Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Reuss, Agnetha Fältskog and Benny Andersson (ABBA). Photo: J...

The artists Björn Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Reuss, Agnetha Fältskog and Benny Andersson (ABBA). Photo: Jonas Borg/King. (Jonas Borg/Kungl. Hovstaterna)

(Jonas Borg/Kungl. Hovstaterna)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The four members of the Swedish pop quartet ABBA, who triumphed at the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest with the peppy love song “Waterloo,” on Friday got one of the most prestigious knighthoods in Sweden from the Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf.

The Order of the Vasa was handed out for the first time in almost 50 years. Agnetha Faltskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid Lyngstad became “Commander of the First Class” of the order for “very outstanding efforts in Swedish and international music life.”

Sweden has several orders, including the Royal Order of Seraphim, which is awarded to heads of state and foreign royals, and the Royal Order of the Polar Star that is given to foreign citizens and stateless persons.

The Royal Order of Vasa, which is given in recognition of personal efforts for Sweden or for Swedish interests as well as the successful performance of public duties and assignments, was dormant until late 2022, when it was reactivated after regulations opened the Royal Orders to Swedish citizens again.

Earlier this year, candidates were nominated by the public and the Swedish government and the king approved the nominees that included the four ABBA members.

The orders were awarded during a solemn ceremony at the Royal Palace in the gilded Vita Havet Assembly Rooms. The monarch handed them the order in a red box while a diploma was given to them by Queen Silvia.

”The order you get today is Sweden’s thanks for your exceptional efforts,” the monarch said before handing out orders to “13 exceptional Swedes.”

Andersson, Faltskog, Lyngstad, who now uses the last name Reuss walked up using a cane, and Ulvaeus received the order in an event that was aired live on Swedish media.

The Eurovision victory turned ABBA into a pop juggernaut, by far the most successful band to win the pan-continental music contest. ABBA’s melodic disco pop sold hundreds of millions of records worldwide. The stage musical “Mamma Mia!” based on its songs is 25 years old and spawned two movies.

Coincidentally, the 2024 Eurovision was held in southern Sweden. Swiss singer Nemo won the 68th contest with “The Code,” an operatic pop-rap ode to the singer’s journey toward embracing a nongender identity.

The Swedish band members have not performed together live for four decades, but released a comeback album, “Voyage,” in 2021. The digital “ABBA-tars” opened in London in 2022.

Two other recipients were two 2023 Nobel Prize winners: French-Swedish physicist Anne L’Huillier, and Svante Pääbo, who won the coveted award in physics and medicine. They were both made Commander Grand Cross of the Royal Order of the Polar Star for “outstanding research efforts.”

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ABBA get a prestigious Swedish knighthood for their pop career that started at Eurovision