Crown Princess Victoria’s name day 2014

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014Until yesterday, three years had passed since Crown Princess Victoria’s name day was last celebrated with the traditional congratulatory call by the defence and the public at the Royal Palace of Stockholm.

In 2012 only weeks had passed since the Crown Princess had given birth to Princess Estelle when the name day came along and so the public celebration was cancelled. In 2013 the Royal Family were in mourning for Princess Lilian when the Crown Princess’ name day occurred two days afterwards and so it was cancelled again. But yesterday, 12 March 2014, it was time again.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014After a grey, damp and altogether depressing winter everyone in Sweden is longing for spring and summer. And so it was a treacherous sun that cast its glorious golden rays over Stockholm yesterday morning, making many people pick their spring coat instead of something warmer for the day. At the Royal Palace however, standing in the shadow of the inner courtyard, many realised how deceiving the sun can be. Luckily, I took the safe option and grabbed my winter coat for the day as I got on the train in the early morning.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014But however freezing many of us were, standing there awaiting the start of the event, I think the temperature might even have slightly risen when Crown Princess Victoria came out together with not only Prince Daniel but also the two-year old charmer Princess Estelle. Many happy exclaims came from all sides at the sight of the little princess who had a lot to look at, from the crowds surrounding the royals to the military men and band standing in front of them.

The Crown Princess’ family took their places together at the small blue podium, where the Crown Princesss has previously stood alone. At a safe distance behind the royals the head of H.R.H. The Crown Princess’ Household, Court Marshal Karoline A. Johansson, and Aide-de-Camp Helena Sigurdsson, placed themselves.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014Princess Estelle was impeccably well behaved during the concert part which consisted of the performance of three military marches, a drum salute, the traditional Swedish congratulatory song “Med en enkel tulipan” (“With a simple tulip”) and the Victoria fanfare followed by the congratulatory hurrah exclamation of the public.

The little princess applauded each performance and even broke into a little dance every now and then. Princess Estelle curiously looked up at the military representatives when they stepped forward to present their company’s congratulatory bouquet to her mother; perhaps thinking they had some funny looking hats on… Every now and then the little princess also looked back at Karoline and Helena standing behind them.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014After the musical programme was finished the Crown Princess went on her usual walkabout to receive flowers, presents and children’s drawings from the crowds. Prince Daniel took Princess Estelle on his arm and walked along. As always it was wonderful to watch the Crown Princess’ fantastic interacting with people of all ages, always taking the time to stop for a moment for all of those who wants her attention.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014The most spectacular gift of the day was probably the spettekaka that a woman brought with her directly from Skåne, of which it is a speciality. The Crown Princess was very happy to receive it and was impressed by how this fragile cake had been transported so far and arrived without any noticeable damages.

To see more of my photos from Crown Princess Victoria’s name day in 2014, please visit my Flickr album dedicated to the event.

Crown Princess Victoria's name day 2014

Her Royal Highness Princess Leonore Lilian Maria of Sweden, Duchess of Gotland

Princess Leonore. Photo: Christopher O'Neill/The Royal Court.

Princess Leonore. Photo: Christopher O’Neill/The Royal Court.

Yesterday King Carl XVI Gustaf, having just about returned from a visit to New York and his grandchild together with Queen Silvia, chaired a special cabinet meeting at the Royal Palace of Stockholm upon the birth of his second grandchild.

Because of the current winter holiday and many current travels in the country and abroad for ministers, it was quite a thin government that gathered around the table to hear what the King and his advisors had decided for the first royal heir to be born abroad since King Oscar I in 1799 (though he was not born royal).

Just like when Crown Princess Victoria gave birth to her (so far only) child Princess Estelle in 2012, speculations were circling around traditional Swedish and royal names like Alice and Désirée – but again Sweden was delivered with a name surprise. Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill’s first child and daughter is styled Royal Highness, received the ducal title of Gotland and will be named Leonore Lilian Maria.

Leonore is not a traditional Swedish name, only 128 Swedish women bare it with only 35 of them using it as a calling name, but this choice is fully in line with the current royal trend of giving royal offspring all kinds of modern and non-traditional names. Lilian was chosen to honour Princess Lilian, Duchess of Halland, the dear “auntie” of the royal children who passed away last year. Maria is the second name of Mr O’Neill’s mother Eva.
- There were very many other names that we had thought about. I can only say that it was a joint decision which we made together. It’s a nice name that we both like very much, Christopher O’Neill told Expressen.

Versions of the name Leonore seems to be a bit of a trend in the royal world at this time. In Spain there is Infanta Leonor, oldest daughter of the Prince and Princess of Asturias and one day destined to become the country’s ruling queen unless her parents have a son. In Belgium there is Princess Eléonore, fourth and youngest child of King Philippe and Queen Mathilde and with Crown Princess Victoria as one of the godparents. In the Netherlands there is Countess Leonore of Orange-Nassau, third and youngest child of Prince Constantijn and Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands.

One version of the name Leonore – Eleonora – is a very traditional Swedish royal name and still today quite popular with more than eleven thousand women bearing the name. No less than four queens in Swedish history have carried the name: Maria Eleonora (née Brandenburg, 1599-1655), consort of King Gustav II Adolf, Hedvig Eleonora (née Holstein-Gottorp, 1636-1715), consort of King Karl X Gustav, Ulrika Eleonora the older (née of Denmark, 1656-1693), consort of King Karl XI, and Ulrika Eleonora the younger (1688-1741), ruling queen of Sweden who abdicated in favour of her husband King Fredrik I, landgrave of Hesse-Kassel.

Gotland is a a county, province and diocese is made up of one large main island surrounded by many smaller island of varying sizes in the Baltic Sea off the coast of south-west Sweden and has just under 60.000 inhabitants. It has been a royal dukedom once before: Prince Oscar (1859-1953), second of four sons and children of King Oscar II and Queen Sofia (née Nassau), received the dukedom at his birth and then lost his style, titles and succession rights at his unequal marriage to Ebba Munck af Fulkila in 1888. Prince Ocar was later conferred with the non-hereditary title Prince Bernadotte and became the father of the world-famous Count Folke Bernadotte af Wisborg.

Princess Leonore with grandparents Queen Silvia and King Carl XVI Gustaf. Photo: Princess Madeleine/The Royal Court.

Princess Leonore with grandparents Queen Silvia and King Carl XVI Gustaf. Photo: Princess Madeleine/The Royal Court.

After King Carl XVI Gustaf announced the name, style and title of his new grandchild at the cabinet meeting, a short press conference followed. The Marshal of the Realm, Svante Lindqvist, said that the King and court has made an interpretation of the Act of Succession that means that Princess Leonore will have to move to Sweden from the age of six to remain in the line of succession.
- She will be brought up from about the age of six and have her whole schooling in Sweden. She is to be Swedish, speak Swedish fluently and take a Swedish student certificate.

With these decisions King Carl XVI Gustaf has implemented completely gender-neural succession, style and title practices – although there are many questions remaining out in the open about the future of the Swedish Royal House and family. What does it mean to be a Royal Highness – will there be a correlation between receiving styles, titles and being in the line of succession and actually becoming a working royal? What happens if Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill won’t want to move to Sweden by 2020, can a royal keep their style and titles but not be in the line of succession? What citizenships will Princess Leonore have?

There are many reasons for joy these days, but also cause for great debate and pondering on the future.

Princess Madeleine has given birth to a daughter

Princess Madeleine's wedding

While most Swedes were sleeping away in the darkness of another winter night, Princess Madeleine gave birth to a baby daughter in New York, USA, while it was still late evening on the other side of the Atlantic. The baby girl was born at 10:41 PM EST on 20 February 2014 at the Weill Cornell Medical Center at the New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Sweden woke up to the news of the royal birth this morning, 21 February 2014, when the media were full of the news and the Royal Court published the official announcement by the Marshal of the Realm on the royal website. The first salutes for the baby girl were fired at noon (CET) today from Skeppsholmen in Stockholm and tomorrow four other Swedish cities will follow suit.

Shortly after noon local New York time (EST), just after 6 PM in Sweden, the proud father Christopher O’Neill held a short press conference. It was an unshaved, casual and clearly very tired father who told the media that the little girl weighed 3,150 grams and was 50 centimetres tall at birth. It was a normal birth and Mr O’Neill attended the whole process which took just about “the whole day” according to a doctor present. The proud father further told the gathered media that the little girl has dark hair and dark eyes and resembles his mother; something he had apparently been hoping for. Mr O’Neill was the one who cut the umbilical cord and he has already taken many photos with his mobile phone. A name has already been decided but he was (of course not) allowed to share it. After a rather improvised press conference of a few minutes and not the best sound, Mr O’Neill showed the cameras a footprint of his daughter on one of his arms. He also said that he had prepared a little gift for the new mother, probably a piece of jewellery as is the custom (a box was mentioned).

In Sweden the Royal Court has confirmed that King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia got on a plane during the day to fly to New York and meet their second grandchild. The traditional cabinet meeting which the King calls after a royal birth to announce the name and titles will probably be held sometime next week. Instead of the traditional witness confirmation, an ancient ceremony where the Speaker of the Parliament, Prime Minister, Marshal of the Realm and Mistress of the Robes confirms the royal birth and that its genuineness in a document signed with seals, two doctors who attended the birth in New York will write a document of confirmation to the King. A Te Deum, the traditional thanksgiving service held in the Royal Palace Church after a royal birth, will be held on Sunday 2 March at 2 PM and invitations went out already before the birth.

Ever since Princess Madeleine’s pregnancy was announced in September 2013 there have been ongoing discussions and speculations on her and Prince Carl Philip’s (possible future) descendants and the future composition of the Royal House. The issues at stake here are possibly enormous and not just about this particular child.

The Swedish Act of Succession only specifies that those in the order of succession need to be of the evangelical Lutheran faith and be brought up within the realm; leaving many questions behind and perhaps also room for interpretation? Since members of parliament did not do a very good and thorough job at examining the articles and considering the future when the legislation was changed in 1979/1980, and now the special circumstances of a royal birth abroad – the room for discussion feels like a great void.

A statement by the King’s lawyer, Axel Calissendorff, made to Svensk Damtidning only shortly after the announcement of the pregnancy is the only hint we have so far as to what the King and his advisers have been considering for the future. But on the other hand one wonders how well thought out the answers in that interview were as Mr Calissendorff seemed to suggest that children of a Royal Highness would somehow also naturally be a Royal Highness. It doesn’t take much thought to realize that following that line of reasoning would very quickly lead to a very large Royal House and no correlation between styles and titles and actually working for Sweden and representing the monarch.

To be brought up in the Lutheran church will pose no great obstacle but what has hopefully been investigated behind closed doors in recent time is what it means to be “brought up” in Sweden, as the Act of Succession puts the requirement for succession rights. Would it for example be enough for children in line of succession to live in Sweden from their school age and forward? What is also of interest is what citizenship(s), surname(s), style and title(s) this baby and future grandchildren of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia will have. Looking at our neighbouring monarchies, Denmark and Noway, we can see that there are different roads to take. Perhaps the King’s inability to create new noble titles is of hindrance in the discussion of the future of the monarchy, the Royal House and extended Royal Family?

Princess Madeleine’s baby girl is now born – questions and confusion still remain. Hopefully the King and perhaps also the government will be able to clear the clouds when the special cabinet meeting is called – whenever that will be….

New exhibition: “40 år på tronen – 40 år för Sverige”

Opening of "40 år på tronen - 40 år för Sverige"Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of attending the opening of a jubilee exhibition at the Royal Palace of Stockholm, made for King Carl XVI Gustaf’s 40th jubilee as king which is celebrated this September and throughout the year. The exhibition, aptly named “40 years on the throne – 40 years for Sweden”, feels like a very well-made and multi-faceted display of the King’s official life and role for Sweden.

The Hall of State is the setting for the main part of it. Screens with photos from the King and his family’s official life runs along the walls on each long side of the grand hall. In the middle of the room a similar line runs through the room. First up in the middle is a section of lighted screens that displays the story of the King’s accession to the throne – of how the days played out and with some personal recollections, for example of how the 27 year old Carl Gustaf practiced for his throne speech with the help of Prince Bertil and some courtiers. There are also sections devoted to painted and photographic portraits of the King, coins and stamps from different events marked during his 40 year long reign, and formal documents concerning the death of King Gustaf VI Adolf and following accession and the enthronement of King Carl XVI Gustaf.

Opening of "40 år på tronen - 40 år för Sverige"

The exhibitions offers some nice contrasts; from some of the grandest symbols of the old monarchy to the modern way of presenting royals in today’s world. Queen Christina’s silver throne from her 1650 coronation draped with King Oscar II’s coronation mantle with ermine trimming at the head of the room. At the back are selected parts of King Carl Gustaf’s wardrobe, ranging from formal to outdoors and taken from famous occasions, each accompanied by identifying photos. In the end of the middle line there are flat television screens showing events from the King and his family’s official life, glimpses of things like official- and state visits and weddings.

Opening of "40 år på tronen - 40 år för Sverige"

Apart from the main exhibition in the Hall of State there is also a selection of portraits given to the King at state visits on display in the guest apartment (yesterday in the Apartments of the Orders of Chivalry), and in the council chamber a video of the King’s oath of assurance is shown.

Opening of "40 år på tronen - 40 år för Sverige"

Opening of "40 år på tronen - 40 år för Sverige"Yesterday evening’s opening night offered a buzzing Hall of State filled with expectant guests. King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia were joined in the royal boxes/podiums by Princess Christina and Tord Magnuson, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, Prince Carl Philip, Princess Madeleine and Princess Désirée and Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld.

In the audience were Count Bertil and Countess Jill Bernadotte af Wisborg, Countess Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg and Countess Monica Bonde, among others.

Opening of "40 år på tronen - 40 år för Sverige"

Princess Christina Mrs Magnuson, the King’s youngest sister and the one who has been closest to the King during his 40 years on the throne (both physically, as she’s the only one who’s remained in Stockholm, and personally, being near to- and supporting to the King), was the one to declare the exhibition formally opened. Below I have translated her speech which moved both the King and her sisters deeply, a video can be seen here of it.

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Your Excellency

I now stand before a situation which you, my dear brother, has stood before many times during the last 40 years. Namely this, as the last speaker, to open an exhibition. An exhibition where those who know so much more of what it’s about already have spoken, also lengthily, a lot and well. Even so I know quite a bit about what this exhibition is about. I have had the privilege to follow you and your work at close range during these 40 years. At times I have acted as a sounding board, occasionally a supporter, sometime advisor, and sometime, the devil’s advocate.

Yes, maybe no one has followed you in your role as Sweden’s head of state for as long as I have. I do know with which relentless energy you have fulfilled your many duties. Yes what does not come to light in this exhibition is the work which lies behind all of these appearances. All the planning meetings, all the preparations, early mornings, long working days. Not to mention all the long travels to other parts of the world and other time zones. The kind of things that wears on body and soul. Working 9 to 5 is a for you unknown concept, rather 7/24, and this almost the whole year around. Despite this, you have also had the time to be a husband, father, and now also grandfather, and not the least a caring brother, brother-in-law, uncle, to me and my sisters and our families.

Yes there is a personal sphere which this exhibition about your first 40 years on the throne does not cover, and neither should it, because the private is just that, private. So even if we both very well remember the dramatic and for us shaking days in Helsingborg and then in Stockholm 40 years ago, that is just that, our private memories. No, the focus in this – which I think is a both beautiful and different exhibition – is your role as head of state, your first 40 years on the throne, your first 40 years for Sweden.

Let me say this here, publicly and once and for all, I and all of your other big sisters with me, admire you for all that you have done during this time. And now I want to invite you all to really experience the exhibition. And hereby I have the honour and joy to open this exhibition.

Opening of "40 år på tronen - 40 år för Sverige"

The exhibition is open until 2 February 2014 but it is recommended to study the opening times before going, especially as the parts which are not in the Hall of State may at times be closed due to official representation of the Royal Family.

Current exhibition: “Treasures of the Palace”

"Treasures of the Palace"
The Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, is currently undergoing a two-year renovation. For the duration of the work the president has moved out together with his staff and all representation takes place in temporary offices elsewhere. This long period of closure opened up opportunities to let conservationists work on its collections, and to display it to the public.

Said and done, Ateneum (The Finnish National Gallery) opened this exhibition back in April. I had a chance to visit it during my recent summer stay in Finland. Earlier on members of the public could even watch the conservation department work on some of the pieces in the museum, but that was likely on summer break or done with by the time I had a chance to go…

“Treasures of the Palace” starts with a bang on the second floor. As you enter the main hall of the exhibition you are met with the gigantic painting ”Alexander II opens the Diet in 1863 at the Imperial Palace” by Robert Wilhelm Ekman. The huge painting, on loan from the House of Nobility in Helsinki, shows the opening of the Diet of the Estates on 18 September 1863 and those interested in the personalities of the day can borrow an identification map to learn the names of many of the figures appearing in front of the tsar. The painting clearly shows a Finnish lion coat of arms behind a chandelier above the tsar’s podium, perhaps one sign of Alexander II:s benevolent attitude towards his Finnish country and one of the reasons why he is still today held in such good esteem by many.

Photo: Hannu Pakarinen / Finnish National Gallery's Central Art Archives

Photo: Hannu Pakarinen / Finnish National Gallery’s Central Art Archives


The exhibition shows art, sculptures, furniture, clocks, chandeliers, tableware and an Iconostasis. Weaved into these categories is also the story of the palace and its varying use through the centuries, told through sketches, drawings, photos and texts.

The Presidential Palace’s art comes from two collections; the Imperial Collection and Ateneum’s deposited collection. The Imperial Collection consists of art bought during the era of the Grand Duchy of Finland, mainly from the second half of the 19th century, and consists of some (nationalistic) pieces that show the defence of Russian soil as well as many landscape depictions. Most of this collection stems from Alexander II:s time and almost all pieces are by Finnish artists. The Ateneum collection at the palace started after Finland’s independence and has shifted through the years.

One of the paintings from the Imperial Collection is “Anchorage in Copenhagen III, 1890″ by Albert Edelfelt. It was commissioned by Alexander III in 1889 and shows the home town of his wife, Danish-born Empress Maria Feodorovna. Edelfelt painted three versions of this motif, encouraged to work on the colours which the empress first found “too bland”, and one of them was purchased for her personal collection.

The extensive collection of tableware shown is topped by two dinner sets; the imperial one bought in Russia in the 1850′s, crowned with the grand ducal coat of arms, and the current presidential state dinner set with the Finnish lion. One can also view some photos of palace life from the tsarist era as well as the later presidential one, and there many photos of the traditional independence day ball through the years as well as a photo of how the state dinner set was used by Queen Elizabeth II at a state visit in 1976.

One room shows the sculptural busts of the presidents of Finland and the painted portraits of the spouses of the president. The first ladies (a term not used in Finland) are normally displayed in the apartment of the empress on the palace’s second floor and thus usually have a very limited exposure.

A portable iconostasis painted on canvas as well as other religious objects from the palace’s former orthodox chapel, a room now used as a library, are exhibited in their own room. It was acquired for palace in 1834 and was transferred to Ateneum’s collections in 1919.

Accompanying the exhibition is an audio guide in which the current living presidents and their spouses have selected their favourite piece of art from the collection and tells the visitors about it (the non-Finnish versions are narrated by others).

“Treasures of the Palace” is on until 1 September 2013.