Monday, 31 January 2011

Cities of the world: Stockholm in 20 photos II

Europe’s most beautiful capital viewed from the Kaknäs Tower

Early autumn at Prince Eugen’s Waldemarsudde

The City Hall

Detail of the Concert House

Equestrian statue of Carl XV, the most popular of the Bernadottes

The Museum of Maritime History

The City Library – Gunnar Asplund’s masterpiece

The King’s Garden

The Royal Palace

The Western Bridge

Hotels Esplanade and Diplomat

King’s Street after Christmas

Katarina Church

The House of the Nobility

The author Hjalmar Söderberg surprised by the first snow


Mansions along Northern Stream

A view towards Söder

Rosendal, a summer palace in winter

A view from the tower of the Cathedral

Sunday, 30 January 2011

At the road’s end: Tøger Seidenfaden (1957-2011), editor-in-chief of Politiken

Since 2006 the leading Danish newspaper Politiken has chosen to give its editorial added prominence by printing it on its front page. And its editor-in-chief Tøger Seidenfaden has never been afraid of making his opinions known. But on Friday the editorial column was left empty on the front page, reflecting Seidenfaden’s death from cancer on Thursday at the age of 53.
Tøger Seidenfaden had been editor-in-chief of Politiken, arguably the best newspaper in Scandinavia, since 1993 and played a far more visual role than most contemporary newspaper editors. Such was his prominence on the public stage that he was occasionally referred to as the real leader of the opposition during the extraordinary political regime Denmark has experienced during the past ten years.
But he was never a spokesman for any single party and could be hard to pin down politically. In his obituary Bjørn Bredal, author of an interesting book on Politiken’s history, defines Tøger Seidenfaden as an American liberal or French socialist. Many often disagreed with him, but he enjoyed widespread respect as one of Denmark’s great minds and most prominent debaters.
He was born on 28 April 1957 and educated in Paris, Aarhus and at Yale and became editor-in-chief of Weekendavisen at the age of 29. Following a brief spell as CEO of TV2 he moved on to Politiken in 1993, thus fulfilling a family ambition – his father had been expected to become editor-in-chief in 1945.
As editor Seidenfaden never shied away from controversies and often challenged the balance between newspaper and viewspaper – in itself a central question in the history of Politiken. When the former EU Commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard withdrew her critical memoir in 1995, Seidenfaden had it published as a supplement to the newspaper. Fourteen years later he did something similar when the army tried to stop a revelatory book by a soldier serving in Afghanistan. In 2009 Politiken also founded a so-called Iraq Centre, employing refugees from Iraq whose requests for asylum had been denied, thus giving them job opportunities and work permits.
Seidenfaden was deeply critical of Jyllands-Posten’s controversial Mohamed caricatures in 2005, but even more critical of the way Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s government handled the crisis which Denmark soon found itself at the centre of. In 2006 and 2008 Politiken was nevertheless among several newspapers which republished the caricatures when three Islamist fanatics were arrested on suspicion of planning to murder the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.
In February last year Seidenfaden printed an apology to “the Prophet Mohamed’s successors” for the offense caused by the publication of the caricatures, an unexpected move which caused a large number of the newspaper’s journalists to distance themselves from his decision in a letter to the editor, which Seidenfaden did not hesitate to publish in the newspaper. He always insisted that he had not apologised for actually printing the cartoons, but only for the offense it has caused.
He was diagnosed with birthmark cancer several years ago, and illness which he was at one stage thought to have overcome. But the illness returned and he died in the ambulance as he was taken to hospital on Thursday afternoon.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Royal jewels: Queen Maud’s pearl and diamond tiara

The Norwegian Royal Court has just released new official portraits of the senior royals (copyright Sølve Sundsbø and the Royal Court), in which the Queen wears one of her favourite tiaras.
The tiara of diamonds and pearls was originally among the presents given to Princess Maud of Britain on the occasion of her marriage to Prince Carl of Denmark (later King Haakon VII of Norway) in 1896. The givers were the bride’s parents, the Prince and Princess of Wales, the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, but the name of the jeweller is not known.
This tiara is strongly associated with Queen Maud, who wore it frequently and was often photographed with it. But following her death in 1938 it would be thirty years before the tiara and most of Queen Maud’s other jewellery were seen again.
In my biography of Princess Astrid, which contains information on most of the royal tiaras, the Princess explains why. Queen Maud used to take most of her jewels with her when she went to England every autumn and also did so in 1938. When the Queen died during her stay in her native land, her jewellery was put in storage at Windsor Castle.
It remained there during the Second World War and indeed it was only in connection with the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953 that Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Märtha brought it back to Norway. As the Crown Princess was by then already mortally ill and died ten months later she never came to wear any of her mother-in-law’s jewels.
Following Crown Princess Märtha’s death her three children decided not to divide their grandmother’s jewellery until Prince Harald had married, meaning that it was not done until late in the autumn of 1968.
Queen Maud’s big diamond tiara, which had also been a wedding present in 1896 and was possibly the most valuable of the items, was inherited by Princess Ragnhild. Princess Astrid got the turquoise crown which had been made for Queen Alexandra of Britain and a small diadem which can be worn either with ruby flowers or with diamond wings.
Crown Prince Harald inherited a diamond tiara with Maltese crosses (also from Queen Alexandra), the delicate so-called Fan tiara, which was supposedly an eighteenth birthday present to the then Princess Maud from her grandmother Queen Victoria of Britain, and the pearl tiara.
His wife, Sonja, used it frequently both as Crown Princess and as Queen. But on 6 February 1995 the tiara, along with other pieces of jewellery belonging to the Queen, was stolen during a burglary at the crown jeweller Garrard’s in London, where they had been sent for maintenance. The stolen jewellery has never been found, but an exact replica of the pearl and diamond was eventually made.
The tiara can be worn both in its full version, as seen in the official portrait above, and in a simpler version with the frontal part detached. The Queen alternates between the two versions, whereas Princess Märtha Louise wore the simpler version on her wedding day in 2002. Crown Princess Mette-Marit wore the tiara (in its simple version) for the first time at the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden in 2010.
In the official portrait above the Queen also wears a diamond and pearl brooch, yet another wedding present to Queen Maud in 1896, and diamond earrings which were originally pendants on a necklace worn by Queen Alexandra of Britain.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

New books: Biography gone wild

Few if any books caused such headlines in Sweden last year as the unauthorised biography of the King, Carl XVI Gustaf – Den motvillige monarken by Thomas Sjöberg with Deanne Rauscher and Tove Meyer, which made some rather scandalous suggestions about the monarch’s private life. Now that I have at last wasted some time on reading it, I find it first and foremost a very peculiar book. It has two parts which bear little relation to each other.
The first part, which fills some 2/3 of the book, deals with King Carl Gustaf’s life until he became king. It opens with a chapter on the days in which he succeeded to the throne – the illness and death of his grandfather and the ceremonies surrounding his accession and Gustaf VI Adolf’s funeral. These events are described in great detail, with official documents in antiquated legalese (or perhaps rather officialese) quoted in their full length, which eventually becomes rather tiresome but which nevertheless offers an idea of the rather old-fashioned system which the 27-year-old monarch came to preside over. This might have set the stage for an interesting contrast between the system the young king inherited and how he adapted to it or adapted the system to suit his ideas and his time. But no such reflections are made in this book.
Instead we go on to hear about his upbringing, which is well enough, but which brings little we have not already heard. The exception might be the chapter on the case against his maternal grandfather, Duke Carl Eduard of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, for crimes against humanity following World War II, which the authors seem to have done proper research on in German archives and which nuances the picture in an interesting way.
Having been through the future King’s education and military service we reach a chapter on what happened in Torekov in the summer of 1971, i.e. when one reached the compromise whereby the monarchy was retained in the new constitution but the monarch was deprived of almost his entire constitutional role. This is a very interesting topic and again this chapter might have served as a backdrop for what one would expect to find in the second part of a biography of the King, namely how this shaped his role and how he has related to it.
But then the book changes into something completely else. The remaining 120 pages or so do not deal with the reign or with the King’s life after his accession or the development of the monarchy in those 37 years. No single person has been more important to all those three aspects than Queen Silvia and it is perhaps symptomatic that she is mentioned only three times in the second part of the book.
What we now get instead is a loose and rather thin account of parties, extramarital affairs, visits to strip clubs etc in which the King and/or his friends are alleged to have taken part. But we are also treated to long and detailed digressions about the life stories of various other people linked to these claims.
Much of these chapters are made up of interviews, often in verbatim form. Some of those interviewed seem unable to utter a complete sentence (“But, he ... that one ... I don’t understand because he has never been near... I have never had any grip on him... never had... more than said hello to the guy... I don’t understand what he has...”) and some of them do not remember much at all. A waitress at an American strip club King Carl Gustaf is alleged to have visited fourteen years earlier has, among other things, this to tell the interviewer:
Did he tip you?
Yes absolutely, normally...a couple of thousand dollars.
So he gave you two thousand dollars?
Probably, yes.
What happened when he left?
I don’t know.
Do you remember that he left?
I don’t know, I don’t remember seeing him leave”.
And so on and so forth, seemingly without any bells ringing to the authors suggesting that this might not exactly be what one calls and eyewitness to history. There is a foreword dedicated to the sources, where we are assured that the tale told by a notorious gangster must be reliable because co-author Deanne Rauscher “has heard him tell the same things again and again”. But is it really so that something must be true simply because it has been repeated?
At the end of the book the authors try to make a case for why this gossip about King Carl Gustaf and his friends is important – it has to do with no lesser issues than the constitution, democracy and indeed the security of the realm.
An unauthorised biography of King Carl Gustaf might in itself have been an interesting thing as most books on living members of the Swedish royal family have been written by, in cooperation with or under the supervision of the Royal Court’s Information and Press Department and are thus quite one-sided and frequently dull. But as biography this book is an utter failure simply because it does not tell the story of the main protagonist’s life. Instead it relates the first 27 years of his life and then descends into an orgy of gossip about peripheral events and various people’s sex lives.

Monday, 24 January 2011

New books: War and war

The revolutionary and Napoleonic age was certainly a defining moment in the development of the Nordic region; the events of the years 1792-1815 caused the map of the region to be entirely redrawn.
At the outset there were two conglomerate states, of which one consisted of the Kingdoms of Denmark and Norway, the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, the Norwegian dependencies Iceland, Greenland and the Faeroes, and colonies in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean; the other of Sweden including Finland, which had been an integrated part of the realm for centuries, and Swedish Pomerania. At the end of the epoch Sweden had been reduced to its present borders, Finland had become a partly autonomous Grand Duchy under the Russian Emperor, Denmark had lost Norway but gained the small Duchy of Lauenburg, and Norway had become an independent kingdom in a union of crowns with Sweden.
In his new book Omvälvningarnas tid – Norden och Europa under revolutions- och Napoleonkrigen, published by Norstedts, the Swedish historian Martin Hårdstedt sets himself the ambitious zeal of telling the story of that momentous era both from the Nordic perspective and from the greater European perspective while at the same time stressing how Nordic and continental events interlocked. It is an ambition which he only partially succeeds in fulfilling.
For while the book begins well with the author drawing up the background for the events that were to follow he soon narrows his tale down to the military aspects. This is mostly well-told and informative and the author makes some interesting points and analyses, but he presents the wars too isolated and not in the political and diplomatic context of which they were results and on which they depended. Hårdstedt himself implicitly points the finger at this fact when he writes, following Waterloo, that “[w]hat was determining in the end was that Napoléon did not have any political support”.
The book starts out well, but I became less enthusiastic as I read on and was treated to detailed analyses of battle formations, military strategies and army logistics. Without the larger context the wars do not really make any sense and the reader is left with only one aspect of a many-faceted story.
It is perhaps symptomatic for how military matters are allowed almost entirely to eclipse their political and diplomatic context that a man like Talleyrand makes his first appearance only on pages 165-166, when the story has reached the summit at Tilsit in 1807 and we are informed that Talleyrand thereafter lost much of his influence.
Unfortunately it is also rather obvious that although the author knows his way around the battlefield, he has a weaker grasp on non-military aspects of the story, such as political and constitutional issues.
For instance he writes that “[w]hen Napoléon reached Paris on 20 March [1815] it was again dictatorship that awaited [France]”, without writing a word on Napoléon’s unsuccessful attempt at introducing a “liberal empire” during the Hundred Days. And when it comes to the union of crowns between Sweden and Norway it is not correct that the King of Sweden was the commander-in-chief of the Norwegian army (the King of Sweden and the King of Norway were the same man, but in his capacity as King of Sweden he had no powers over the Norwegian army), nor is it correct that the King according to the Norwegian Constitution shared the legislative power with Parliament.
Further, the Norwegian rebellion of 1814 did not “lay […] a foundation for its future independence”. It is unclear when Hårdstedt thinks Norway did actually become independent, but that was in fact what happened in 1814. Perhaps this might be considered a result of the historical mythology nurtured by many Swedes that Norway was subject to Sweden rather than its equal in the union.
There are also far too many factual mistakes. Friedrich Wilhelm II was not the son of Friedrich the Great and Queen Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotta was not her husband’s aunt. Both Franz II, Napoléon I and Gustaf IV Adolf are referred to as “future” emperor or king well after they had succeeded to their respective thrones, while we learn that Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria had just been deposed when he had on the contrary been promoted from elector to king. Viscounts become counts and counts become dukes, while princes are demoted to dukes, and “the Mecklenburgian Princess Fredrika of Baden” is obviously an impossibility. When it comes to the arts it was not the empire style in itself which was called Biedermeier in Germany.
And then there are some rather far-fetched simplifications and exaggerations. I very much doubt Queen Marie-Antoinette could “determine people’s lives” simply by “a shrug of her shoulder” and mentioning Désirée Bernadotte together with Madame de Staël as an example of “women […] who did not simply live in the shadows of various men” borders on the ludicrous.
In my opinion Martin Hårdstedt would have done better if he had decided to write a book on the military history of the era between 1792 and 1815. That is a story he seems to master and know how to tell. But when this is presented as a history of the entire era, the attempt falls short because the military aspects are seen almost isolated and without the political and diplomatic context which determined the question of war and peace.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Prussian “heir” engaged to Isenburg princess

Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia, the head of the former royal family of Prussia (which also held the rank as German emperors from 1871 till 1918), yesterday announced (external link) his engagement to Princess Sophie of Isenburg.
Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia, who lost his father when he was one year old, succeeded his grandfather Prince Louis Ferdinand (himself a grandson of the last German Emperor and King of Prussia) as head of the former royal house in 1994. His father was the third son of Prince Louis Ferdinand, but his elder brothers Friedrich Wilhelm and Michael were deemed to have forfeited their rights of succession by marrying unequally.
The princes Friedrich Wilhelm and Michael later filed an eventually unsuccesful lawsuit claiming that it was discriminatory and unconstitutional to bypass them. This means that Prince Georg Friedrich has been under a certain pressure to choose a spouse who could be considered his equal in royal status.
Although belonging to one of the lesser princely families of Germany, his fiancée meets these criteria as she is the daughter of the Prince (Fürst) of Isenburg, Franz Alexander, and his wife Christine, née Countess von Saurma and Baroness von und zu der Jeltsch.
The bride-to-be has two brothers - Alexander and Viktor - who are both unmarried, and two sisters - Katharina and Isabelle - who are married to Archduke Martin of Austria-Este and Carl, the Prince of Wied, respectively
The wedding is expected to take place in Potsdam before the end of this year. Potsdam, which is geographically next door to Berlin, is the capital of the state of Brandenburg. It was in Potsdam that the kings of Prussia had most of their palaces and the City Palace, which was destroyed during World War II, is currently being rebuilt to house the state parliament. Opposite it is the Church of St Nikolai, which might be an excellent setting for such a wedding.

Friday, 21 January 2011

My latest article: King Harald’s twenty years on the throne

Monday was not only the twentieth anniversary of the death of King Olav, but also the twentieth anniversary of King Harald V’s accession to the Norwegian throne and today twenty years have passed since he swore his oath to the Constitution in the Parliament Chamber.
At a press conference in 1991 the new King assured the journalists that there would be no “palace revolution”, but two decades on “revolution” might perhaps seem an apt term for the significant changes to the monarchy in the present reign. The Norwegian monarchy today is in many ways different from the monarchy of King Olav and in an article in Dagsavisen today (external link) on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary I look back at King Harald’s reign so far and analyse the development of the monarchy during those twenty years.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

The royal oath to the Constitution

Twenty years ago tomorrow King Harald V swore the oath of allegiance to the Constitution in the Parliament Chamber. The oath to govern the country according to its constitution and laws is laid down in the Constitution’s article 9. The King is expected to swear the oath as soon as he accedes to the throne, but until 1871 Parliament met only every third year and until 1990 Parliament did not sit throughout the year. If a change of monarch happened while Parliament was not sitting, the King would make a written oath and later repeat it orally in front of Parliament, usually during the next State Opening of Parliament.
Christian Frederik, the first King of Norway after independence was restored, was elected by the Constituent Assembly on 17 May 1814, the day after the Constitution had been passed. On 19 May he accepted the crown and appeared before the Constituent Assembly in the main hall of Eidsvold Værk Manor to swear his oath to the Constitution.
The course of events forced him to abdicate a few months later and the instrument of abdication, which he signed on 10 October 1814, was ratified by Parliament on 4 November. The same day King Carl XIII was elected King of Norway, but as ill health and other reasons meant that Carl XIII never came to the country during his reign, he never swore the oath orally in front of Parliament, but rather in front of a delegation from the Norwegian Parliament which came to Stockholm in December to inform him formally of his election to the Norwegian throne. Before that his heir, Crown Prince Carl Johan, had presented the King’s written oath to the Speaker of Parliament when he and Prince Oscar, first came to Parliament on 10 November.
In 1818 the State Opening of Parliament took place on 6 February 1818, before news had arrived that Carl XIII had died the previous evening. It was thus obviously impossible for his adopted son and heir, Carl XIV Johan, to be present, but Parliament was still sitting when he arrived in Christiania (now Oslo) on 11 August 1818 on his way to his coronation in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondhjem (now Trondheim). He stayed in Christiania until 25 August, but there is no mention in parliamentary minutes of his going to Parliament to swear the oath. On the contrary all the MPs called on the King in the Royal Mansion both after his arrival in the capital and the day before his departure. The King rather swore the oath during the coronation in Nidaros Cathedral on 7 September 1818, where only a deputation from Parliament was present.
Carl XIV Johan died on 8 March 1844, at a time when Parliament was not sitting. His son Oscar I swore the oath during the State Opening of Parliament in the provisory parliament building in Christiania on 10 February 1845. The King was flanked on the dais by his three eldest sons – Crown Prince Carl, Prince Gustaf and Prince Oscar – while Queen Josephina and the two youngest children, Princess Eugénie and Prince August, watched from a royal box.
King Oscar I died on 8 July 1859, when Parliament was not sitting. While Oscar I was joined by his entire family, Carl XV came unaccompanied by any family member when he took the oath during the State Opening of Parliament on 6 October 1859, which was again held in the provisory parliament building.
Parliament was again not sitting when Carl XV passed away on 18 September 1872. In 1866 the national assembly had moved into a building of its own and during the State Opening of Parliament on 3 February 1873 King Oscar II thus became the first monarch to swear his oath in the room which remains the Parliament Chamber today. Like his brother before him, Oscar II was unaccompanied by any members of his family. It is interesting to note that the session was presided over by Johan Sverdrup as Speaker of Parliament, the man who would later become Oscar II’s main opponent in the fight over the introduction of parliamentarianism and who was appointed Prime Minister following the King’s defeat in 1884.
Following Oscar II’s deposal on 7 June 1905 and his abdication on 26 October 1905, the newly elected King Haakon VII arrived in Norway on 25 November 1905. Parliament was sitting at the time and two days after his arrival the new King drove to the Parliament Building to take his oath to the Constitution, accompanied by Queen Maud, who became the first royal lady to take her seat with the King on the dais rather than in a royal box. Above is Harald Dal’s painting of the event, which exists in three versions – this version hangs in the Parliament Building’s Central Hall. That it is painted more than fifty years after the event can be deducted from the fact that the walls of the Parliament Chamber were not actually red at the time – they got their present colour only in 1914.
King Haakon died on 21 September 1957, after Parliament had been dissolved ahead of the upcoming election. In those days Parliament would not reconvene until more than three months after the election and it was thus only during the State Opening of Parliament on 20 January 1958 that King Olav V swore his oath.
To complicate matters further the Parliament Building was undergoing a thorough rebuilding at the time, which meant that the Parliament Chamber was a construction site and that parliamentary sittings were temporarily held in a large conference room in the new annex to the building. The King, MPs, ministers, supreme court judges and all other dignitaries thus squeezed together in the smaller Lagting Chamber (which was used for the sittings of the so-called Lagting during the semi-bicameral system which was in force from 1814 to 2009) for the ceremony. King Olav was not accompanied by any member of his family.
Since 1990 Parliament is no longer dissolved and thus it formally sits from the beginning of October to the end of September, although there are of course recesses. When King Olav died on 17 January 1991, his son was thus able to go to Parliament on the following Monday, 21 January 1991, to swear his oath of allegiance. By accompanying him Queen Sonja became the first Queen to be present in Parliament for 69 years.
A little-known fact is that there were also other royal oath-taking ceremonies during the union of crowns with Sweden. During the State Opening of Parliament on 24 October 1900, Prince Gustaf Adolf, who accompanied his parents Crown Prince Gustaf and Crown Princess Victoria (King Oscar II was ill at the time and Crown Prince Gustaf thus acted as Regent), swore an oath of loyalty to the Constitution and the King.
The newspaper Verdens Gang questioned the correctness of this as there was no legal provision for the heir to swear such an oath. However, it was clearly inspired by the Swedish tradition whereby princes upon reaching their 18th birthday swore an oath of allegiance during the Swedish State Opening of Parliament (the present King of Sweden was the last prince to do so, in 1965 – the oath disappeared with new Constitution in 1975, but Crown Princess Victoria made an informal pledge of loyalty on her 18th birthday in 1995).
It was also pointed out that Prince Gustaf Adolf’s father, Crown Prince Gustaf, had sworn the same oath when accompanying his father to the State Opening of Parliament on 7 February 1877. There are however no indications that Crown Prince Carl swore such an oath in 1845 or Crown Prince Carl Johan in 1814, but on the other hand Crown Prince Oscar swore an oath of loyalty during his father’s coronation in 1818.
No such oath has been sworn following the dissolution of the union of crowns with Sweden in 1905, but the Crown Prince makes a written oath along the same lines when he becomes eligible for acting as Regent.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

New books: Venice and the staging of its glory

After two critically acclaimed books on Rome, the Danish art historian Mogens Nykjær has moved his focus further north, more precisely to Venice. The result is Venezia – Byhistorie og kunst, a gem among the many books on this most enchanting of cities.
In this lavishly illustrated, information-packed volume Nykjær investigates the relation between history and art in Venice, focusing on the years between the thirteenth century and the Napoleonic age immediately after the fall of the Republic.
Many of Venice’s many famous churches, palatial mansions and artworks go by in this book, but also simpler dwelling houses, communal wells and the many campos around which entire societies in miniature could revolve (Nykjær relates the story of an author who went to see an 100-year-old lady living near the Church of San Pietro di Castello in order to ask her about life in St Mark’s Square in her youth, only to be told that the centenarian had never once been to the Square).
But naturally the major sites, such as the Basilica of St Mark, the Ducal Palace and St Mark’s Square, are given the most thorough treatment and a chapter on ducal funerary monuments are among what stands out in this book.
Venice, Nykjær points out, is virtually alone among major Italian cities in not having a Roman past. This makes it a polycentric city, not a planned, monocentric city like those of Roman origins. But most importantly it meant that when Venice became a great power in the thirteenth century, one saw the need for inventing a past which could bear comparison to those cities with such a past.
And this – the staging of Venice, its self-celebration through art – is the main theme of Mogens Nykjær’s book. Venice cast itself in the role as the new Rome and the new Byzantium, a chosen city with a privileged position, closer to Christ and the Virgin Mary than any other city.
Nykjær highlights how the Doge’s throne in the Sala Del Maggior Consiglio in the Ducal Palace is situated immediately beneath Christ in Tintoretto’s glorious fresco “Paradise”, alluding to the Doge as the earthly mirror image of Christ. The same relation between Christ and the Doge can be found in Pietro Lombardo’s funerary monument to Doge Pietro Mocenigo in the Basilica of San Zanipolo.
In another of the Ducal Palace’s halls, those saved in Palma il Giovane’s “Doomsday” rush to that corner of the picture which is to be found above the door leading to the short corridor linking this hall to the Sala Del Maggior Consiglio. This is as Nykjær sees it the very culmination of how Venice presents itself through its art as a privileged, chosen city. Those redeemed on doomsday are shown rushing towards the door to Paradise – to Venice.
The self-staging of Venice reached its climax in the sixteenth century, when the might of the Republic was in fact in decline – partly as a result of Vasco da Gama’s finding an alternative route to India in 1498 and thus depriving Venice of its monopoly in trading with spices. But, as Nykjær points out, this was only a logical result of the usual practice whereby the urge for stressing the magnitude of one’s power increases when actual power decreases.
Thus, the sixteenth century was nevertheless the “imperial age” of Venice, when she rested contentedly in the position she had acquired while watching it slowly crumble. The fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the sack of Rome in 1527 provided Venice with an even greater opportunity to present itself as the new Constantinople and the new Rome – the imperial survivor.
Yet even the thousand-year-old Republic of Venice eventually came to an end. In the eighteenth century the authorities could no longer afford embellishing the city in the way it had hitherto done and the initiative shifted to private actors who also no longer refrained from glorifying themselves or their families rather than Venice – as can be seen in for instance Villa Pisani in Stra.
Mogens Nykjær’s interpretation of Venice and how it staged its own power and position through the arts is an excellent book which will hopefully be translated into other languages and take its natural place among the classics on this fascinating city.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

A summer palace in winter hibernation

Without any particular reason I thought I would post some photos of Rosendal Palace in Stockholm taken this weekend – the small pleasure palace built by Carl XIV Johan all boarded up and sitting peacefully in the snow. Come May the palace will again open its doors, but as for now it seems almost in hibernation.
I could add that the new issue of Gård & Torp (no 1-2011) has several pages on Rosendal, with some interesting, detailed interior photos by Ingalill Snitt.

Monday, 17 January 2011

On this date: Death of King Olav twenty years ago

Tonight twenty years have passed by since the death of King Olav V and the accession of King Harald V to the Norwegian throne. King Olav died at the Royal Lodge in Oslo at 10.20 p.m. on 17 January 1991.
King Olav had suffered a stroke in early June 1990, a month ahead of his 87th birthday, and Crown Prince Harald thereafter served as regent. However, the announcement of King Olav’s death came rather unexpectedly as he had made a partial recovery and been out late in the night celebrating his brother-in-law Prince Carl Bernadotte’s 80th birthday some days earlier.
He had also spent his day as usual, which included some hours at the Palace catching up with the news and entertaining the Speaker of Parliament, Jo Benkow, to lunch. But the King was deeply worried by the outbreak of the Gulf War, which reminded him of the events of 1940, and King Harald has subsequently called his father “the first causality of the Gulf War”.
Back at the Royal Lodge in the evening, King Olav suffered a heart attack followed by heart failure. His three children, his son-in-law Johan Martin Ferner and five of his ten grandchildren were by his side when he died. Shortly afterwards the two youngest children were walking down from the room where King Olav had died when a doctor came after them and called out “Your Majesty”. It was only when Princess Astrid nudged him and said “He means you” that Harald V realised that he was now King.
The announcement of King Olav’s death caused an outpouring of grief on a scale which had never before been seen in Norway. Hardly had the news been announced before a group of youngsters placed a few candles in the snow outside the Palace. In the following days it grew into an ocean of candles, flowers and children’s drawings. At night, Arne Skouen wrote, it looked as if the snow was burning.
When King Olav died, the Royal Standard was lowered to half mast above the Palace, but was raised again when the new King arrived to chair an extraordinary State Council in which he formally informed the government of his father’s passing and his own accession to the throne. Thereafter the Royal Standard was flown at half from a flagstaff suspended from the balcony. The photo above was taken on the day I went to King Olav’s lying-in-state in the Palace Chapel.
King Olav died on a Thursday evening and on the following Sunday the royal family attended a memorial service in the Cathedral. The next day King Harald was driven to Parliament where he swore his oath of allegiance to the Constitution. He was accompanied by Queen Sonja, who thus became the first Queen to be present in Parliament for 69 years.
The state funeral of King Olav was held in the Cathedral on 30 January and despite the ongoing war it was attended by heads of state, royals and other dignitaries from around the world. The late King was laid to rest at the side of his beloved wife, Crown Princess Märtha, in the Royal Mausoleum at Akershus Castle.
On 17 January 2001 the tenth anniversary of King Olav’s death was marked by a commemorative service in the Cathedral, but this year there will be no public events and at the Palace there has been business as usual today with the King receiving a number of visitors in audience.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Sixth marriage prevents Jan Bernadotte’s seventh wedding

It seems it was a bit premature when I wrote about the seventh wedding of Count Jan Bernadotte af Wisborg on Saturday. Svensk Damtidning today (external link) reports that the wedding had to be postponed at the last minute because it turned out the groom’s sixth marriage was not legally dissolved.
“I just did not know that I was already married”, the Count says to the magazine. The happy couple now intend to marry when the groom and Christiane Grandmontagne, whom he has claimed tricked him into marriage on false pretenses, have been legally divorced. Obviously it cannot be easy keeping track of such things.

People from the past: Iver Winfeldt Buch, Norwegian court jeweller in St Petersburg

This week is the last chance to see the Norwegian National Museum’s exhibition “Sacral Treasures from the Kremlin Museums in Moscow”, which blends the Norwegian museum’s unusual collection of Russian icons with loans from the Kremlin, such as further icons, priestly vestments and precious items used during the liturgy in the imperial cathedrals.
While the many Swedes who left their mark on St Petersburg are fairly well-known, this exhibition reminds us of one the less well-known Norwegians who were also active in the capital of imperial Russia.
Included in the exhibition are two items made by the court jeweller Iver Winfeldt Buch (1749-1811). The picture above (a press photo copyright of the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design) shows one of them, a golden chalice set with 435 diamonds and three gems showing the birth of Jesus, the baptism of Jesus and the removal of the Virgin Mary’s house to Loreto – possibly from Ekaterina II’s own collection of gems. The chalice was commissioned by the Empress in 1795 and presented to the Monastery of St Sergey.
Iver Winfeldt Buch was born in Drammen in 1749. He came to St Petersburg in 1770 and was received into the guild of foreign gold and silver smiths in 1776. According to a family legend related by his relative Ada Polak, a renowned Norwegian art historian who died in London last autumn at the age of 96, Buch first worked for a court jeweller who was exiled to Siberia after he had exchanged one of the largest diamonds in an imperial tiara with an imitation while he was repairing it.
Buch is said to have taken over his workshop and eventually came to own one of the largest such stores in the Russian capital. He was appointed court jeweller to Ekaterina II and later to Pavel I.
Prince Potemkin was also among his customers and following Potemkin’s death Empress Ekaterina II presented the Monastery of St Alexander in St Petersburg with another jewelled chalice by Buch in commemoration of the Prince. In addition to liturgical items he is known to have made jewellery, silver furniture and chandeliers for the imperial palaces.
He was appointed consul for Denmark-Norway in St Petersburg and visited Norway again in 1804. He died in 1811, supposedly in poverty, having spent his fortune on his passion for long journeys.

NPG to mark diamond jubilee with exhibition

With Queen Elizabeth II of Britain due to mark the 59th anniversary of her accession to the throne in a few weeks, plans for the diamond jubilee next year are beginning to take shape. Among the more interesting events will be the exhibition “The Queen: Art and Image” (external link), featuring sixty different portraits of the monarch.
The exhibition will be shown at the National Gallery Complex in Edinburgh from 25 June to 18 September this year, at the Ulster Museum in Belfast from 14 October 2011 to 15 January 2012, at the National Museum in Cardiff from 4 February to 29 April 2012 and at the National Portrait Gallery in London from 17 May to 21 October 2012.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

On this date: Golden wedding of Princess Astrid and Johan Martin Ferner

Today is the golden wedding anniversary of Princess Astrid of Norway and Johan Martin Ferner, who were married in Asker Church on 12 January 1961.
The Princess, who was at the time first lady of Norway, and Mr Ferner had known each other for a long time when their engagement was announced in November 1960. Their betrothal caused quite an outcry at the time because of the fact that Johan Martin Ferner was divorced.
One newspaper called it the worst storm in the history of the Norwegian royal family and many churchmen were not happy that the daughter of the head of the Church of Norway would marry a divorced man. Nevertheless the storm soon died down and relatives from around Europe gathered in Asker Church on a bitterly cold day two months later to witness the marriage.
Five children were born in ten years, three of them while Princess Astrid was still the nation’s first lady. While the Princess has continued to be a working member of the royal family until this day, her husband has never carried out public engagements on behalf of the royal family.
Instead he dedicated himself to the family business, the clothing store Ferner Jacobsen in Parliament Street, where he can still be seen occasionally. In public Johan Martin Ferner has always been the very epitome of discretion and loyalty.

Monday, 10 January 2011

My latest article: Carl XIV Johan and his capital

When Crown Prince Carl Johan first arrived in Christiania (now Oslo) in November 1814, a few days after he had become heir to the Norwegian throne, he found a provincial town with less than 11,000 inhabitants and no public buildings of any significance. When he died thirty years later, Christiania had been transformed into a capital worthy of an independent kingdom and its population had been more than doubled.
The development of Christiania as the capital of Norway in the years following independence in 1814 and the role which Carl XIV Johan played in this process are the theme of my article “Kongens nye hovedstad: Carl Johan, Christiania og arkitektene i Norges demring” in St. Hallvard no 3+4 – 2010, which after a severe delay is on sale from today. Meanwhile a much shorter version appeared in Aften in connection with the Bernadotte bicentenary last autumn, but this is the full version, running to 26 pages.
In fact this is one of the aspects of Carl XIV Johan’s story where the Norwegian side is more interesting than the Swedish. Very little was built in Stockholm during his reign, but in Christiania he had the opportunity to shape an entire capital and in doing so he proved his understanding of how monumental architecture and city planning could be employed as manifestations of the monarch’s image.
The architects who figured most prominently in this process were Hans D. F. Linstow, who the King chose to be the Royal Palace’s architect, and Christian Heinrich Grosch. Linstow drew up the city plan and built the Palace, while Grosch was responsible for most of the other monumental buildings of the era.
Such was Carl Johan’s influence on the development of the Norwegian capital that it is only natural that its main street, itself a product of this process, bears his name to this date and that an equestrian statue of the late monarch looks out over his capital from its plinth in front of the Royal Palace at the top of that street.

On this date: Centenary of Prince Carl Bernadotte

Today is the centenary of the birth of the late Prince Carl Bernadotte, best remembered as the brother of Crown Princess Märtha of Norway and Queen Astrid of the Belgians and the much-loved “Uncle Mulle” of the Norwegian, Belgian and Luxembourgian royal families.
He was born in the so-called Prince Carl’s Mansion at Djurgården in Stockholm, now the residence of the Spanish ambassador, on 10 January 1911 as the fourth and final child of the 50-year-old Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg. Thus he was the grandson of the late King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway and of King Frederik VIII of Denmark.
His nephew Flemming, Count of Rosenborg, later said that Princess Ingeborg had made a deal with her lord that if she ever had a son he would be named Samuel. However, Prince Carl disapproved of the suggestion and the baby was eventually named Carl Gustaf Oscar Fredrik Christian. Yet Ingeborg insisted on calling him Samuel and the rest of the family compromised by using the diminutive “Mulle”.
By birth a Royal Highness and Prince of Sweden, Carl Jr was created Duke of Ostrogothia by his uncle Gustaf V, who thus revived the dukedom which had been held by Oscar II until his accession to the throne in 1872.
He was christened at the Royal Palace in Stockholm on 3 March. The politician Hugo Hamilton noted in his diary that the child cried loudly until King Gustaf pinned the Seraphim Order onto him, “then he was satisfied and fell silent”. Fifty years later, on 12 February 1961, he would become one of the few knights of the Seraphim in history to be stripped of the order and lost his other Swedish orders at the same time.
He would also lose his royal titles and his rights of succession to the throne when he married a commoner in 1937, although he – unlike the other Swedish princes who married commoners – received King Gustaf’s consent. He was instead given the title of Prince Bernadotte in the Belgian nobility by his brother-in-law King Léopold III and was thereafter known as Prince Carl Bernadotte until his death in 2003.
The photo shows the young Prince Carl Jr with his doting mother Princess Ingeborg.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Seventh wedding of Jan Bernadotte

Today Count Jan Bernadotte af Wisborg, a second cousin of the King of Sweden and the Queen of Denmark, married Gunilla Stenfors in Hyltinge Church in Stjärnhov. The 53-year-old teacher from Flen will be his seventh wife.
Carl Johan “Jan” Bernadotte, who will celebrate his seventieth birthday tomorrow, is the eldest son of the late former Prince Lennart of Sweden, who forfeited his succession rights and was stripped of his royal titles when he married the commoner Karin Nissvandt in 1932. The groom is thus the eldest great-grandson of King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria. To me Lennart Bernadotte described his eldest son as “the family’s black sheep”.
He was married to Gunilla Stampe from 1965 to 1967, to Anna Skarne 1967-1970, to Annegret Thomssen 1972-1974, Marita-Else Berg 1974-1987, Gabriele Kicks 1994-2004 and Christiane Grandmontagne 2004-2006. All six marriages ended in divorce. He has three children by Anna, Annegret and Marita-Else respectively and adopted his fifth wife’s daughter.
In 1987 he also accepted payment for adopting an adult man and in the process committed perjury by telling the court a completely false story about how a father-son relationship had gradually grown between the two of them. He admitted to the fraud after its prescription.
His adoptive son has since then used the name “Gerard Graf Bernadotte af Wisborg” – which he is legally entitled to under German law – and has sometimes also added the title “Prince of Sweden”, to which he has no right whatsoever.
In a letter addressed to “HRH Carl XVI Gustaf”, Jan Bernadotte himself announced on 11 May 2009 that he had taken the title “Prince Carl Johan”. This was done in order to restore his father’s honour – that is the same father whom he smeared and threw mud at in his 2006 autobiography.
It is not known whether the bride intends to go by the title “Princess Gunilla”.

A prince and a princess for Denmark

Amalienborg has announced (external link) that Crown Princess Mary has given birth to twins at the National Hospital in Copenhagen today. A prince, who is fourth in line to the throne, was born at 10.30 a.m, while a princess, fifth in line to the throne, was born at 10.56.
The boy weighs 2,674 grams and is 47 centimetres long; the girl weighs 2,554 grams and measures 46 centimetres.
According to Danish royal tradition the names of royal babies are kept secret until their christening.
While a royal birth is traditionally marked by a 21-gun salute from Kronborg Castle and from the Sixtus battery at Holmen in Copenhagen, this time there was two 21-gun salutes - one for each baby.
It is the first time since 1519 - when King Christian II and Queen Elisabeth became the parents of Maximilian and Philip - that twins are born in the Danish royal house (although former Princes Christian and Flemming both fathered twins after they had lost their succession rights and Christian IV had twins by his morganatic wife Kirsten Munk in 1626).
The Prince Consort has already paid a visit to his sixth and seventh grandchildren at the hospital.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Book news: Some books of 2011

The book harvest of 2010 was in my opinion unusually good and now that 2011 has dawned we might use the opportunity to take a look at some of the books expected this year.
In Sweden, Britt Dahlström, whose latest book was about the books of the queens in the Bernadotte Library, is writing a book on Prince Wilhelm as an author. Bo Eriksson has written Svenska adelns historia, a history of the Swedish nobility, which will be published by Norstedts in the spring.
Dianne Rauscher, one of the authors behind the biography of King Carl XVI Gustaf which caused such an outcry two months ago, is at work on a biography of Queen Silvia, whose title is intended to be Silvia – Drottning till varje pris (“Silvia: Queen at Any Price”). A critical approach to the Danish monarchy can also be expected in Kim Bach’s book Frederik den sidste (“Frederik the Last”), due in April.
That month’s British royal wedding can surely be counted on to lead to a flood of commemorative books, while Hugo Vickers, whose best book is in my opinion his biography of Princess Alice of Greece, has written a book on the Duchess of Windsor, Behind Closed Doors, which is expected in April. With Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee in 2012 in mind, BBC’s former political editor Andrew Marr is writing a biography of her, but I am not sure if it will be published this autumn or in the jubilee year itself.
The Norwegian biographer Ingar Sletten Kolloen, perhaps best known for his two volumes on Knut Hamsun, is writing the authorised biography of Queen Sonja, which is due to be published by Gyldendal in the autumn. The fifth of Tor Bomann-Larsen’s six volumes on King Haakon VII and Queen Maud is also expected towards the end of this year.
2011 has been declared the official “Polar Year” in Norway, marking the centenary of Roald Amundsen’s reaching the South Pole and the 150th anniversary of Fridtjof Nansen’s birth. This will occasion two biographies of Nansen, one by Carl Emil Vogt and one by Harald Dag Jølle. Edvard Hoem is also expected to complete the third and final volume of his biography of the author and hyperactive activist Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson.
In politics, the Norwegian Socialist Left Party’s 50th anniversary will be marked by a book on its history by Frank Rossavik, whose biography of former Labour politician and TV boss Einar Førde drew much acclaim some years ago. Former US Vice President Dick Cheney will publish his memoirs.
Julia Gelardi, who seems to have made collective biographies of royal ladies her speciality, will in March release her third such book, From Splendour to Revolution, this time about four Russian imperial ladies – Empress Maria Fyodorovna, Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (the elder), Queen Olga of the Hellenes and Duchess Marie of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
A Danish art historian, Thyge Christian Fønss, will release a book on the iconography of Queen Margrethe II, due out in the autumn ahead of her 40th anniversary on the throne in January next year. This might be an interesting book as Queen Margrethe is not only artistically conscious but, alongside Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, she is probably the most frequently painted monarch of our age.
The increasingly confused Swedish tabloid journalist and self-proclaimed “historian” Herman Lindqvist will of course release at least one book, this time a biography of Louis XIV, Ludvig XIV – Solkungen, which will be published by Bonniers in April. Judging by the standards of his latest works, this book will probably bring surprising, new revelations such as that although commonly called “Ludvig” in Swedish, the Sun King’s name was actually Louis and that Louis was in fact the first man on the moon.
Some books which were expected in 2010 but did after all not appear might perhaps do so in 2011. Among them are Jane Ridley’s Bertie: A Biography of Edward VII, Rene Brus’s Crown Jewellery and Regalia of the World, Adam Zamoyski’s The War on Terror, 1815-1848 and Ilana Miller’s The Four Graces: Queen Victoria’s Hessian Granddaughters, which keeps getting postponed every time the publication date gets near.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

On this date: Grand Duke Jean turns 90

Today is the 90th birthday of Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, the small nation’s former head of state. Grand Duke Jean reigned over the country from 1964 until his abdication in 2000.
Grand Duke Jean is the eldest child of Grand Duchess Charlotte and Prince Félix and was educated in Luxembourg, Britain and Canada. In 1942 the exiled Hereditary Grand Duke, as he then was, joined the British Army and served in the Irish Guards. As Grand Duke he would become Colonel of the same regiment.
On 4 May 1961 Grand Duchess Charlotte appointed him Lieutenant of the Realm, which meant that the Hereditary Grand Duke assumed the regency until his mother abdicated on 12 November 1964.
In 1953 he was married to Princess Joséphine-Charlotte of Belgium, an arranged marriage which by all accounts turned out to be very happy. The couple had five children and were able to mark their golden wedding anniversary in 2003. Sadly the Grand Duchess died from cancer two years later.
By then Grand Duke Jean was no longer on the throne. Following the example set by his mother he decided to leave the throne to his eldest son Henri and announced his impending abdication at the end of 1999. The abdication was set for 23 September 2000, but due to a car accident in which his youngest son, Prince Guillaume, was nearly killed, the abdication was postponed till 7 October 2000. Despite relinquishing the reins of government to his son, Jean kept the title of Grand Duke.
Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte maintained close ties with many royal families around Europe and the world and were always welcome guests at royal events abroad. They continued to attend some such events after the abdication – such as the funeral of Queen Ingrid of Denmark in 2000, the wedding of the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Norway in 2001 and the golden jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain in 2002 – but in later years the Grand Duke has more or less withdrawn from public life.
His entering his tenth decade today will however be marked with a concert which is expected to be attended by Grand Duke Jean and his extended family, including his brother-in-law the King of the Belgians.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Ari Behn’s grandmother has died

Aftenposten today carries the death announcement of Anne Marie Solberg, the maternal grandmother of Princess Märtha Louise’s husband Ari Behn. Born Anne Marie Behn on 15 August 1923, she was 87 when she died on 29 December.
She was the widow of Andreas Solberg, who died in 2008, and leaves two children, four grandchildren and several great-grandchildren. As is the custom in Norway, the family members sign the death announcement with their first names only, except her granddaughter-in-law, who has chosen to include her royal title.
Anne Marie Solberg’s funeral will take place in the Church of Immanuel in Halden on Friday.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

What to see: The Eric Ericson Hall (former Church of Carl Johan), Stockholm

The Eric Ericson Hall, which was until 2001 the Church of Carl Johan (commonly known as the Skeppsholm Church), is one of Stockholm’s few architectural monuments to the era of Carl XIV Johan as well as a prime example of Swedish empire-style architecture.
It replaced the Admiralty Church from the 1630s, which was located on Blasieholmen (approximately where the National Museum now stands) and which burnt down in June 1822. As its predecessor, it was intended to serve the capital’s naval base, which was located at neighbouring Skeppsholmen.
Following the fire, Lieutenant-Colonel Professor Fredrik Blom, Carl XIV Johan’s favourite architect, was commissioned to submit designs for a new church and also to suggest a place for it. However, Blom was on a secret mission to Christiania (now Oslo), whence he had been sent by the King to search for a suitable location for the Royal Palace which Carl Johan was planning.
Before Blom returned to Stockholm Admiral Carl Fredrik Coyet had chosen the hilltop at Skeppsholmen, an island linked to Blasieholmen by a pontoon bridge (made permanent in the 1860s). Another architect, Carl Fredrik Sundvall, was in the meantime also asked to draw up designs, but Blom made his own proposals after he returned from Norway in February 1823.
Of his two suggestions, the relevant authorities set their eyes on the cheapest one, but when the issue came up in State Council on 28 October 1823, the King and government decided for the more expensive one, estimated to cost 53,815 riksdaler banco.
This was an octagonal central church – quite unusual in Sweden at the time – and through the personal intervention of the King, Blom also managed to have the rather simple roof planned changed into a low dome in 1833. The dome is surmounted by a temple-shaped lantern consisting of eight Corinthian columns.
The resulting building is one of the many churches in the world which are obviously based on the Pantheon in Rome. The idea of building a Pantheon-style church in Stockholm had often been put forward in the days of Gustaf III, but had then never led to any results.
As Blom had never been to Italy, it has been suggested that a mediating link between Pantheon and the church at Skeppsholmen might have been Nicodemus Tessin the Younger’s 17th century Church of Holy Trinity in Blom’s hometown Karlskrona – which would be fitting as Karlskrona was since 1680 the headquarters of the Navy.
Inside the octagonal interior, 20 Ionic columns form a circular room and support the coffered, domed ceiling. Between the arcades one can find niches with statues of apostles, which were eventually joined by two larger sculptural groups by Johan Niclas Byström.
Work on the church progressed very slowly and came to a halt more than once, partly for financial reasons, partly because of the lack of manpower. Blom had moved the location slightly from the spot chosen by Coyet to a more complicated terrain, which caused the work on the ground and foundations to take several years. The architect’s long European tour from 1829 to 1832 may also have played a part.
On 7 July 1842 King Carl XIV Johan gave permission for the church to be named after him and it was consecrated on the 24th of the same month. The King also presented the church with its silver.
One might think that the Church of Carl Johan, an architectural monument to his age, might have been a natural place for Carl XIV Johan to be buried, but the founder of the Bernadotte dynasty was ever conscious of the need to stress his own position as a link in the long line of Swedish monarchs and thus he was buried in the Riddarholm Church where most of his predecessors since the 17th century rested.
However, the Church of Carl Johan features prominently in Emile Mascré (or Maseré)’s state portrait of the King, now at Rosersbergs Palace, which was painted in his silver jubilee year 1843 and shows the 80-year-old monarch surrounded by symbols of the achievements of his reign.
The naval base left Skeppsholmen in 1969 and the church thus lost its congregation. Yet it continued to serve as a church until 5 December 2001, when it was deconsecrated. The former church remained shut and disused until 2010, when it was leased to the Eric Ericson International Choral Centre and renamed the Eric Ericson Hall. It can now also be used for profane events, such as the government’s dinner on the eve of the wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel last summer.