Category Archives: Events

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.

Princess Madeleine’s wedding: my day in Stockholm

Princess Madeleine's wedding
Every time there’s a royal event possible to reach in real life, the same question pops up: should I stay or should I go? That is: should one stay at home and enjoy the festivities via television via which one gets the best view, can see everything and at the same time follow photos being published online OR should one go to the event in person and actually see some of those royals in real life but on the other hand get a limited experience of the full event, having to come home and catch up on everything?

Yesterday, on Princess Madeleine’s wedding day, I decided to go. After all, the number of royal weddings is very limited, especially per generation and in a small country like mine. So off I went into Stockholm in the forenoon, arriving around 10 AM to a capital with beautiful clear blue skies and a scorching sun.

Princess Madeleine's weddingAfter suffering from decision anxiety about where to stand during the day I had decided to first watch the guests leave the hotel to go to the wedding and then make my way to Riddarholmen, the ending point of the cortège, to see all the guests leave on boat for Drottningholm.

So after arriving to Stockholm I first made a walk to look up the locations, joining my friend Johannes who was in the capital to help Aftonbladet with their web-TV during the day. The metal barricades were already up along the cortège route and everything was prepared at the ending point, with carpets laid out and flower decorations in place. Since it was told that the public would have a viewing point there we decided where a good place to stand could be.

Walking back from Riddarholmen, Johannes left to meet up with Aftonbladet and I stayed on the other side of the road to Grand Hôtel where they had also put up metal barricades and a special box for the media. Since I was there so early Stockholm was still quite calm and there was nothing to do but wait. After a while I noticed I was not alone however, and so I came to talk to a Finnish man who shares my interest in seeing and photographing royals. I even got a chance to practice my horribly rusty Finnish a little. He had found the best spot to stand at aside from the media box and so we came to share it for a few hours. Apart from a few guests occasionally stepping out on balconies to pose for gala portraits above us, there wasn’t much to see for a few hours.

Princess Madeleine's weddingMy first royal sighting was Hereditary Prince Hubertus of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, he walked back and forth to the hotel a few times, to and from somewhere. After a while Princess Benedikte of Denmark got into a car, dressed in a suit, and remained gone for quite a while.

Around noon Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, first cousin of King Carl XVI Gustaf on his mother Princess Sibylla’s side, came out through the main entrance and talked to his son for a bit. It’s not often one has the chance to see German royals in Sweden and because of the family connection with our Royal Family it always feels a little extra special to see that they come to attend events. As Prince Andreas was going for a walk I grabbed my courage and went up to him, he kindly accepted to pose for a photo and accepted my greetings.

By the time guests were starting to come out of the hotel to leave, after 2:30 PM, my friend Pia had joined me. The first to leave were the groom’s best man, Cedric Notz, and someone we couldn’t ID – but after that followed an amazing row of royals. Pia and I had a wonderful time and as really the only ones who could ID all the guests we called on their attention, to the amusement and joy of the by then large assembled crowds around us, and most of them waved and were happy to be recognized. The Earl and Countess of Wessex, Prince Nikolaos and Princess Tatiana of Greece, Prince Philippos of Greece, Princess Theodora of Greece, Princess Charlene of Monaco, Hereditary Prince Hubertus and Hereditary Princess Kelly of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Crown Prince Pavlos and Crown Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, Princess Benedikte of Denmark, Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Prince Joachim and Princess Marie of Denmark, Prince Leopold and Princess Ursula of Bavaria, Prince Manuel and Princess Anna of Bavaria, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, Princess Märtha Louise of Norway and Ari Behn.

Princess Madeleine's weddingThose were the guests we were really there to see but of course a large number of others also passed review. At times it was really crowded with guests on the sidewalk but I think we also spotted Prince Pierre and Princess Silvia d’Arenberg and Princess Khaliya Aga Khan. A few guests, like Princess Takamado of Japan and Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie of Luxembourg were staying elsewhere and the closest family at the royal residences of course. The groom’s mother Mrs Eva O’Neill and her daughters and parts of their families left together and wedding dress designer Valentino was one of the last to leave for the ceremony. Most of the guests were transported on blue public transport buses with Swedish flags and marked “The Royal Wedding” for route name for the day. Some special VIP guests were driven in white chauffeured Volvo’s.

After watching the guests leave the hotel we immediately walked to Riddarholmen to find a spot for the ending point of the cortège. Since they had announced that the bride to the island would be closed off and all traffic would be halted for the cortège later on it was best to be there early, I figured. When we got there a small crowd had already gathered but we managed to get a decent spot, the press enclosement down in prime location by the boats at the quay remained empty for a long time while the public was waiting. It was a mixed crowd that grew in size as we waited, from elderly ladies sitting on camping chairs to parents with children to keep calm and young people sitting on the stone pavement. Thanks to our smartphones we watched parts of the wedding ceremony live on SVT, with the sun still shining intensely upon us but a few dark clouds occasionally appearing.

Princess Madeleine's wedding

A little after 5 PM the buses transporting guests began arriving. By that time the public had been warned ahead of time that the island would be closed off and everyone would have to remain in place until the boats had left. Unfortunately for the huge crowds gathered on Riddarholmen the last stop of the cortège was not planned as a good viewing spot for the public, despite expectations raised by talk of special viewing locations. The blue double-buses stopped right in front of us and we could only see the guests get off and walk down the stairs the quay on the other side – by the time the bus had moved, one after one, most guests were out of sight. This was of course much to the disappointment of the crowds, some boos and whistles were heard, mainly aimed at the “slow” bus drivers (of course everyone knew it wasn’t their fault, it was simply planned like this).

Princess Madeleine's wedding

Three boats lay at the quay to received guests on board, the first one in the row was the family and royal boat and was the only one to remain until the bride and groom – Princess Madeleine and Chris O’Neill – arrived. A few minutes before 6:30 PM the cortège arrived but apart from a few waves from the bridal couple in the carriage, also they disappeared from view on the other side before the carriage and horses had moved on.

Princess Madeleine's wedding

Around 6:40 PM Stockholm blasted its horn and sailed off for Drottningholm, a large fleet of private small boats following it in a tail and crowds gathered on all sides of the water waving it off into the horizon.

Princess Madeleine's wedding

After standing for the entire day and not having had anything but a bottle of water to consume, feats were tired and shoulder sun-burned. We ended the day with a meet-up at a restaurant in nearby Old Town, finally having some food, drink and a chance to share each other’s experiences. When I came back home around 11 PM there wasn’t much to do but to have a small snack and then have lights out. It wasn’t difficult to sleep after a happy and eventful day in a perfect summery Stockholm.

To see a few more of my photos (and I might add more later) please look at my Flickr stream.

New exhibition: “Från Ingegerd till Estelle”

Opening of "Från Ingegerd till Estelle"On the first day of June this past Saturday, I set off for for Sigtuna – a lovely seaside town north of Stockholm with fascinating roots back dating to the pre-Sweden days of the Middle Ages. My destination was not just Sigtuna, picturesque town centre though it has, but their museum and a new exhibition staged there.

The exhibition, “Från Ingegerd till Estelle – en prinsessutställning” (“From Ingegerd to Estelle – a princess exhibition“), combines history – from the very old to that of recent centuries – with modern art installations, objects and reflecting texts. All on the topic of princesses. Sigtuna Museum has chosen twelve of them, ranging in time from Ingegerd (ca. 1000-1050) to today’s Estelle (b. 2012), and tries to escape from the general male power perspective on history.

Opening of "Från Ingegerd till Estelle"From the early days of royal history, questions are asked about why female power yielders are not more interesting to us when we talk about our early history and the created “viking times”, and why are women so absent from history books for younger school children even today?

From an archaeological perspective to modern feminist video installations that explore the female role, the topics are explored in different ways. The modern art perspective though dominates; there are video installations, photographs, porcelain figures and pieces of clothing.

Opening of "Från Ingegerd till Estelle"

Princess Christina opened the exhibition on Saturday, joking that she is “the inauguration princess” of the female royal roles; someone one can call on when events like these take place. The Princess was joined by her husband Tord Magnuson and both seemed in a good mood as they arrived in their own car and happily received a lot of attention from a great audience of people at the museum.

Opening of "Från Ingegerd till Estelle"

A few more photos can be found in my Flickr stream.

An update on Princess Madeleine’s wedding

Princess Madeleine and Christopher O'Neill. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier/The Royal Court.

Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill. Photo: Patrick Demarchelier/The Royal Court.

The Royal Court has today issued several updates on the coming royal wedding between Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill on 8 June. They have also published a special wedding section on their website and made a more thorough official biography of Christopher O’Neill available.

Christopher O’Neill’s title

The Marshal of the Realm, Svante Lindqvist, today issued a press release announcing that Christopher O’Neill will not receive a title subsequent to his marriage with Princess Madeleine. The wording of the announcement, translated from Swedish by me, reads:

Mister Christopher O’Neill is and remains an American citizen, and he intends to continue his business activities as before after he has entered marriage with H.R.H. Princess Madeleine. According to the policy of the Royal House a member of the Royal House should be a Swedish citizen, and not hold a position of responsibility in the business world.

This means that Mister Christopher O’Neill – according to these principles – cannot bear the title H.R.H. Prince of Sweden or Duke of Gästrikland and Hälsingland.

With reference to these demands Mister Christopher O’Neill has respectfully requested to remain a private citizen and not be bestowed with royal dignity.

The title announcement is perhaps not very surprising in my opinion; I really hadn’t expected anything else. What remains to be decided and announced is how they will handle the couple’s future children. The Swedish Act of Succession states that princes and princesses should be brought up in Sweden, the question is what legals experts would argue that it entails in today’s world. Princess Madeleine will not give up her H.R.H. or lose her position in the Royal House after the marriage.

Princess Madeleine & Christopher O'Neill's monogram by Vladimir A Sagerlund.

Princess Madeleine & Christopher O’Neill’s monogram by Vladimir A Sagerlund.

Joint monogram

The heraldic artist at Riksarkivet (The National Archives) Vladimir A Sagerlund has composed the couple’s monogram. It consists of their intertwined and mirrored initials with a princely/ducal crown adorned with Vasa vases and sceptres resting above the M.


Lysning, the traditional announcement of an impending marriage in the church, will be held for Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill this coming Sunday 19 May in the Royal Palace Church at 11 AM. The lysning announcement will be made during the Royal Court Parish’s weekly Sunday service but afterwards a reception for invited guests will be held at the Royal Palace at 2 PM.

Wedding celebrations

On Friday 7 June a wedding dinner will be held at Grand Hôtel which lies opposite the Royal Palace, just across the water. This will be a private dinner for family and friends.

On Saturday 8 June the wedding will take place in the Royal Palace Church at the Royal Palace at 4 PM. The Chief Court Chaplain Lars-Göran Lönnermark and the Pastor of the Royal Court Parish Michael Bjerkhagen will be officiating.

The Prime Minister and parliamentary party leaders are invited to the wedding.

After the ceremony is over a salute of 21 rounds will be shot from Skeppsholmen near the palace. The bridal couple have not announced a balcony appearance but will travel from the palace to Skeppsholmen in a cortège with military lining the route. From Riddarholmen the couple and invited guests will travel to Drottningholm by boat.

At Drottningholm a wedding dinner will be held, responsible chef is the court’s usual choice Stefano Catenacci from Operakällaren in Stockholm.

Sveriges Television (SVT) will air the wedding ceremony but not the dinner. It has not (yet) been announced if they will be allowed to film anything from the inside at Drottningholm, such as the speeches, but they will cover the arrivals there.