Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel in the footsteps of Carl XIV Johan

As previously announced Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden have been visiting France this week as part of the bicentenary of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte’s election to Crown Prince of Sweden, a trip which is also their first official visit abroad following their wedding this summer.
The crown princessly couple have visited both Paris and Pau. In the southern town Pau they visited the house in which the future Carl XIV Johan was born in 1763, which is now the Musée Bernadotte. Judging by the photos they received a warmer welcome than King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia when they arrived unexpectedly at the museum two or three years ago and were turned away at the door as the museum was about to close for the lunch break. (The mayor of Pau was not happy when she heard about it).
In Paris the Crown Princess and Prince Daniel called on President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Élysée Palace. Given that the future Carl XIV Johan was (and is) considered a traitor by many Frenchmen there are not that many reminders of him to be found in the French capital. His name can be found on the Arc de Triomphe with the other generals of the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, but he is one of the few marshals for whom a Parisian street has not been named.
However, the Crown Princess and Prince Daniel paid a visit to the town hall in suburban Sceaux, where the then General Bernadotte married Désirée Clary in 1798, and were shown the entry in the book recording the marriage. The General and his wife spent their first years as a married couple in Sceaux, which was not to Désirée’s liking as she found it too far from Paris – I guess this goes quite a way in explaining why she considered Stockholm too far from Paris!
The crown princessly couple also made a visit to Château de la Grange la Prévôte in Savigny-le-Temple, some forty kilometres from central Paris. This estate was acquired by the Bernadottes in 1800 and, according to the art historian Britt-Inger Johansson’s interesting chapter on the Bernadotte residences in a recent anthology on the dynasty, Bernadotte had an existing building demolished and a new small palace built. As the architecture of la Grange is quite typical of the revolutionary era this seems not unlikely and, if correct, means that la Grange should be added to the list of palaces built by Carl XIV Johan, which otherwise consists of only Rosendal Palace in Stockholm and the Royal Palace in Oslo.
When Bernadotte became Crown Prince of Sweden and joined the enemies of France, ownership of the estate was transferred to his wife’s brother, Count Nicolas Clary, so as to avoid confiscation as enemy property. It remained in the Clary family until 1915 and is now owned by local authorities and used for conferences.
When they return to Sweden, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel will soon embark on a second official visit, this time to Beijing and Shanghai between 11 and 14 October. Later they will visit their duchy, Westrogothia, from 21 to 23 October, before making a third official trip abroad, this time to Finland on 1 and 2 November.
Here in Oslo we can meanwhile expect King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, who will join the King and Queen of Norway in celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Swedish-Norwegian conference centre Voksenåsen on Friday. Queen Silvia will stay on until Sunday, when she will attend mass at the Swedish Margareta Church together with Queen Sonja. This means that the Queen of Sweden will be in town during the State Opening of Parliament on Saturday, but there is no tradition for foreign dignitaries to attend this ceremony.

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