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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.