Saturday, 21 December 2013

Swedes want King to abdicate

The Swedish broadsheet Dagens Nyheter (external link) today publishes an opinion poll from Ipsos that shows that only 39 % of the 1,162 interviewees want King Carl Gustaf to remain on the throne, while 48 % want to see his stepping aside for Crown Princess Victoria. 14 % are uncertain.
This is a significant change from 2010, when only 17 % wanted to see the King go and 64 % were in favour of his remaining on the throne.
These days 64 % want Sweden to remain a monarchy (down from eighty percent i 2005), while 27 % want a republic (up from 16 % in 2005).

Thursday, 19 December 2013

My latest article: Queen Louise of Sweden

Queen Silvia of Sweden, who will celebrate her seventieth birthday on Monday, has by now been Queen of Sweden for nearly forty years, but her predecessor remains fairly unknown to many. This was her husband’s step-grandmother, Queen Louise (1889-1965), an unassuming, yet very regal lady who was the first really visible Queen of Sweden for nearly a century and proved to be an ideal Queen for the democratic Sweden of the 1950s and 1960s. Despite this and her popularity in her lifetime, Queen Louise is sadly not very well remembered today. In the January 2014 issue of Majesty (Vol. 35, No. 1), which goes on sale in Britain today and soon in other major European cities (and some North American, I believe), I tell her story.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Seraphim honours for Mandela in Stockholm

While Nelson Mandela was laid to rest in Qunu in South Africa yesterday, I happened to be in Stockholm, where I got the chance to observe the ceremonial which accompanies the death of a Knight of the Royal Seraphim Order, Sweden’s highest order, which nowadays is only awarded to royals and heads of state.
While a knight of the order is alive, his or her armorial shield is kept at the Royal Palace, where a selection is displayed in the Seraphim Hall next to the Hall of State. After the death of a knight, the shield is hung in the former royal burial church at Riddarholmen.
At 11.15 a.m. yesterday, Nelson Mandela’s shield was carried from the Royal Palace to the Riddarholmen Church, accompanied by a guard of honour made up of four grenadiers, while the soldiers guarding the Royal Palace paraded in the Outer Courtyard.
In the Riddarholmen Church, the shield was displayed on an easel at the entrance to the chancel, next to a table with a photo of Mandela, two white candles and a bouquet of flowers, guarded by two grenadiers. The bells of the church tolled from noon to 1 p.m.
The so-called Seraphim tolling is done on the day of the funeral of a knight of the order, as long as the Swedish court is aware of the knight’s passing and the date of his or her funeral (it has happened that the tolling has not taken place because the court has not received news of the death of a knight).
As the bells fell silent at the end of the Seraphim tolling, the easel with Mandela’s shield was carried to the northern side nave of the church and placed in front of the wall where it will be hung with the shields of other late knights.
Nelson Mandela received the Seraphim Order when he, as president, hosted King Carl Gustaf’s and Queen Silvia’s state visit to South Africa in 1997. Crown Princess Victoria represented the Swedish royal family (and Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt the government) at the memorial service held in Johannesburg on 10 December, while no Swedish representative was present at the actual funeral yesterday.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

My latest article: Frederik II, renaissance king

King Frederik II of Denmark and Norway has often been overshadowed by Christian IV, his son who has been much loved by posterity. Yet Frederik II, who reigned from 1559 to 1577, was himself one of the most interesting Dano-Norwegian monarchs and indeed the realm’s first renaissance king.
He was a significant patron of the arts and sciences, and his reign saw the birth of true royal splendour at court and the advent of gifted professional artists. Such was the fame of his lasting monument, Kronborg Castle in Elsinore (Helsingør), that Shakespeare chose it as the setting for Hamlet.
Nevertheless, the Norwegian city of Fredrikstad is today one of the few places where Frederik II is honoured, as it was he who founded the town in 1567, and in Fredrikstad Museum’s yearbook, Mindre Alv XV, which goes on sale today, I tell the story of the city’s founder’s life and reign.
Since I completed this article this spring Frederik II has for the first time become the subject of a biography, written by the historian Poul Grinder-Hansen, which is also well worth reading.