The fortieth anniversary of King Carl Gustaf of Sweden’s reign saw celebrations across the nation which had, prior to the anniversary weekend, also included a countrywide tour by the King and Queen to all of the nation’s twenty-one provinces. The weekend celebrations were the culmination of the King’s fortieth anniversary, opening with a dinner hosted by the Swedish government at the Nordiska Museum in Stockholm, which was also attended by Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, Prince Carl Philip, Princess Madeleine and Christoper O’Neill. After dinner the Royal Family was driven to Stockholm’s Concert Hall for a Gala Concert. The mood was lighthearted as the guests enjoyed a mixed bag of entertainment including music, comedy and musical sketches. The celebrations continued on Sunday with a service of thanksgiving at the Royal Chapel, but perhaps the most engaging event of the whole weekend was the invitation to a “dance at the palace”. All Stockholmers and visitors to the city were invited to a music and dance party in the inner courtyard of the Royal Palace. “Everybody is welcome. Bring your dancing shoes. Cheers!” the King told the nation during a radio interview. King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia were the first to take to the plastic floor that protected the courtyard cobblestones.
They have been married for thirty-seven years, almost as long as the King’s reign. As the years have passed they have become focal figures for the nation and developed an open and relaxed monarchical style, a symbol of the country’s egalitarian society. Recent polls have given the monarchy a solid sixty percent approval rating but it would be misleading to say that Swedes are uniformly monarchist. In recent years the King has come in for some criticism and some believe support for the monarchy will be best preserved by Crown Princess Victoria taking over from her father in the near future. Inevitably time has taken its toll a little on the King’s popularity, but his vast experience is a huge asset. Nonetheless, there is an ongoing to debate as to how long King Carl Gustaf, now aged sixty-seven, should continue as constitutional head of state. During his radio interview, His Majesty was asked about his plans, making it clear he has no intentions of stepping down for a while: “I can’t answer that. It will be determined by my health gradually. But I think it’s very exciting because there is so much happening in the world around us.” If he chooses to carry on for another decade, or even two, he will join his British counterpart Queen Elizabeth II in celebrating Golden and Diamond Jubilees, a rare feat for a monarch in any age. In the meanwhile King Carl Gustaf, whose personal motto is ‘For Sweden – with the times’ has a lifetime of experience to guide him: “I have tried to live according to my motto by being sensitive to the currents in society, and to the demands, needs and expectations placed on a monarch with the times. For me, it’s a matter of living in harmony with developments in Sweden and the whole of the ever-changing world that we are a part of.”