When her mother fell ill with dementia, the Swedish monarch Silvia said she was completely clueless. Since then she has learned a lot about the disease – including the pitfalls.

In her own words, Sweden’s Queen Silvia initially had no idea about her mother Alice Sommerlath’s dementia more than 25 years ago.

“My father was very protective of my mother and also partly took over the household because she could no longer do it,” said the 78-year-old on Friday in Munich. It was only after her father’s death in 1990 that she noticed: “Something’s wrong.”

Sommerlath spent her final months with her daughter at Drottningholm Palace near Stockholm before she died in 1997. The realization of the queen after this time: «You have to adapt to the patient, you have to help him. You can’t ask questions that push them to the wall, you have to tell them.” Her mother also didn’t dare to move from one room to the next because she thought the carpet was an abyss.

The illness is also the reason for Silvia’s visit to Munich. On Friday evening she wanted to attend a charity gala organized by the Desideria Care association for her niece Désiree von Bohlen und Halbach, which supports those affected and their families. This fate is tragic for relatives, said the monarch, who herself provides help with her Silviahemmet Foundation, which was founded in 1996. Health Minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU) praised her social commitment: “The Queen has been personally committed to people with dementia for decades and is therefore a great role model,” said the minister.

The monarch also remembered the 1972 Olympics. She was a hostess and fell in love with the future King Carl Gustaf of Sweden. The first part of the games was wonderful – until the assassination on September 5th, in which eleven athletes, one policeman and five terrorists died. Everything collapsed like a deck of cards, said the Queen. “It was a terrible catastrophe.”