Today, on their first wedding anniversary, Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Mr Christopher O’Neill hosted the christening of their first child and daughter, Princess Leonore, in Sweden. In the most splendid summer weather, the baroque estate of Drottningholm Palace by Lake Mälaren, a few kilometres west of Stockholm, bade welcome to family, friends and also the Swedish people via television.
Princess Madeleine, who was born at Drottningholm Palace in 1982, and Mr O’Neill had chosen to host the christening in the small palace chapel, decorated by Carl Hårleman in the eighteenth century, and thus marked a difference between this christening and that of Crown Princess Victoria’ and Prince Daniel’s first child which was a larger affair at the Royal Palace of Stockholm.
Guests started arriving after 11 AM and many ladies had chosen soft, creamy pastel colours and hats or coiffes. Apart from the Royal Family (King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, Princess Estelle, Prince Carl Philip and the happy parents) the guest list included members of the O’Neill family, members of the Queen’s family (Sommerlaths), and members of the extended Royal Family. Only three of the King’s sister attended: Princess Margaretha Mrs Ambler, Princess Désirée Baroness Silfverschiöld (without her husband) and Princess Christina Mrs Magnuson. Countess Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg, widow of the King’s late uncle Sigvard and who celebrates her 90th birthday this summer, and Countess Gunnila Bernadotte af Wisborg, widow of the King’s uncle Carl Johan, also attended. The only foreign royal on the guest list, which the Royal Court had earlier said would not include any such people, was Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, first cousin of King Carl XVI Gustaf on his mother Princess Sibylla’s side. The only one of Princess Madeleine’s godparents who did not attend was Princess Benedikte of Denmark.
Mr O’Neill, Princess Madeleine with Princess Leonore, King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Mrs Eva O’Neill. Back row from left: Princess Margaretha Mrs Ambler, Princess Désirée Baroness Silfverschiöld, Princess Christina Mrs Magnuson and Consul General Tord Magnuson. Screen caption from SVT.
The official parts of Sweden were represented by the Speaker of the Parliament, Per Westberg, Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt, members of the diplomatic corps and a short list of high ranking members of various authorities. Only two government ministers other than the Prime Minister attended and only one of the parliamentary party leaders, perhaps because the christening coincided with a birthday celebration of the Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt’s wife Anna Maria Corazza Bildt in Italy this weekend. The Royal Court was represented by both present and former staff; among them the present Marshal of the Realm, Svante Lindqvist, former Marshal of the Realm Ingemar Eliasson, now chancellor of the royal orders, Mistress of the Robes Countess Alice Trolle Wachtmeister with her husband Count Hans Gabriel, Marshal of the Court Karolin A. Johansson, head of the Crown Prince Couple’s household, as well former nannies of the King and Queen’s children. Personal and private guests included Prince Carl Philip’s girlfriend Sofia Hellqvist and long-time close Swedish friends of Princess Madeleine and the Royal Family.
The christening service commenced at noon when a salute of 21 shots was fired from Skeppsholmen in Stockholm. Archbishop Anders Wejryd, perfming his last big duty as such before laying down his archbishop’s crosier one week from now, was joined by Chief Court Chaplain Lars-Göran Lönnermark and the Pastor of the Royal Court Parish Michael Bjerkhagen in officiating the service.
The altar and chapel was decorated with beautiful blooming roses and peonies in different rose-colours and the baptismal font was dressed in ivy, the landscape flower of Gotland. Instead of using the grand and very heavy silver christening font from the seventeenth century, last used for the christening of Princess Estelle in 2012, the regular christening font of the Drottningholm Palace Chapel was used. Princess Eugénie’s crown from 1860 marked the royal dignity of the service.
On two opposite rows of chairs near the altar sat Princess Madeleine’s parents, siblings and Prince Daniel, and on the other the chosen godparents: Crown Princess Victoria (with Princess Estelle next to her in a mini-chair), Ms Louise Gottlieb, Mr Patrick Sommerlath, Mrs Tatjana d’Abo, Count Ernst Abensperg und Traun and Ms Alice Bamford.
The main character of the day, Princess Leonore, Duchess of Gotland, slept through most of the service. The little princess was dressed in a christening gown from 1906, made in cotton batiste and valencienne lace with a slip of satin woven silk and whose lining carries the embroidered names of its previous wearers (Prince Gustaf Adolf, Prince Sigvard, Prince Bertil, Prince Carl Johan, Princess Margaretha, Princess Birgitta, Princess Désirée, Princess Christina, Prince Carl Gustaf, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip, Princess Madeleine and Princess Estelle).
Mr Christopher O’Neill read the introductory thanksgiving prayer in English, Crown Princess Victoria read about Jesus and the children (Mark 10:13) in Swedish and then Mr O’Neill’s half-sister Mrs Tatjana d’Abo read from the Galatians in English. The music consisted of classic period music, coinciding well with the baroque surroundings, as well as the bridal march from Gotland, performed at the wedding of Princess Madeleine and Mr O’Neill, re-worked for organ. Court singer Elin Rombo sang Max Reger’s “Mariä Wiegenlied” (op. 76, nr. 52) in German and Swedish and the final psalm, before the recessional piece from Roman’s “Drottningholm music”, was a beloved classic, “En vänlig grönskas rika dräkt” that is sung in most schools when the start of the summer holiday is marked.
At the end of the ceremony King Carl XVI Gustaf attached a miniature of the Order of the Seraphim to Princess Leonore’s christening gown, signalling that she has been awarded the order but the princess will probably not receive the real insignia and start to wear them until she reaches the age of majority.
After the christening service guests exited the chapel and walked around it on the outside to reach the entrance to Drottningholm Palace. After a short posing moment on the stairs of the palace for the immediate family, Princess Leonore was laid down to rest in Karl XV:s cradle from 1826 in the Ehrenstrahl Drawing Room. In the same room, standing next to the cradle, Princess Madeleine and Mr O’Neill received the guests who also greeted King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia and Mrs Eva O’Neill who was standing at the other end of the room before the guests passed to the next room. The Ehrenstrahl Drawing Room is dominated by great seventeenth century paintings by court painter David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, depicting glorifying images of Dowager Queen Hedvig Eleonora and the Pfalz dynasty on the Swedish throne.
During the reception the Royal Family also allowed cameras to film a little bit of the receiving of the guests and the presentation of gifts, something which was not done at Princess Estelle’s christening. The Speaker of the Parliament and Prime Minister, speaking in front of the gathered guests and next to the happy parents on a podium, presented the government’s and parliament’s gift which is a collection of children’s books by Swedish authors. The Marshal of the Realm presented the court staff’s gift, a set of a children’s sized table and chair made by a carpenter from Gotland of local sustainable wood and presented together with a tea set. The County Governor of Gotland presented the County Administrative Board and people of Gotland’s present in the form of a photo and soft-toy depicting a baby foal of the Swedish race Gotland pony (Gotlandsruss) that was born on 21 May 2014.
After the reception a christening luncheon was given in Karl XI:s Gallery, a room that serves as a reminder of King Karl X Gustaf’s wartime achievements with great seventeenth century battle depictions. The menu consisted of lobster-filled pickled apple cannelloni, langoustine-pannacotta, trout roe and smoked dill crème, lemon and thyme filled chicken breast, confit leg of chicken, potato and asparagus terrine, sorrel sauce and asparagus buds, and a summer trio of rhubarb and strawberries for desert.
Back row: (godparents) Ms Alice Bamford, Mrs Tatjana d’Abo, Count Ernst Abensperg und Traun, Crown Princess Victoria, Mr Patrick Sommerlath, Ms Louise Gottlieb. Front row: Mr Christopher O’Neill, Princess Leonore, Princess Madeleine. Photo: Anna-Lena Ahlström, royalcourt.se.