Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Turkish state visit to sombre Sweden

Yesterday the President of Turkey, Abdullah Gül, and his wife, Hayrünnisa Gül, arrived in Sweden on a three-day state visit hosted by King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. It is the first Turkish state visit to Sweden ever, but the King and Queen of Sweden made a state visit to Turkey in 2006.
There are old links between the two countries, as Sweden and the Ottoman empire saw a mutual arch-enemy in Russia and thus had a common cause. Following his defeat at Poltava in 1709, King Carl XII of Sweden spent the next five years in the Ottoman empire, the first four of them in Bender (now in Moldavia).
In 1885, King Oscar II and Queen Sophia of Sweden and of Norway visited Constantinople, where their son, Prince Carl, had fallen gravely ill. This was a private visit and the circumstances meant that the King and Queen wished to be incognito. However, it was only very rarely that foreign monarchs came to the Ottoman capital, and Sultan Abdulhamid II made much out of the visit and showered King Oscar and Queen Sophia with gifts.
The state visit to Sweden, which began yesterday and ends tomorrow, has a sombre touch because of the death of Princess Lilian, which happened on Sunday, when it was probably too late to postpone the state visit. King Carl Gustaf has decided that the flag should be flown at full mast on the Royal Palace during the state visit, but flags on other public buildings and along the Northern Bridge were on half mast when the state visit commenced yesterday. The King was wearing a black armband on his uniform and all the members of the royal family were wearing black, including at the state banquet last night. For the daytime events as well as for the banquet Crown Princess Victoria wore in a prominent position a small brooch which was a present from Princess Lilian and Prince Bertil.

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