Yesterday, June 6, was National Day here in the Kingdom of Sweden (really, that’s the official name), which mainly seems to be a day of show and display for the Royal Family and, since 2005, an excuse to take a day off from work. I don’t really get this whole royalty business. It’s probably because I’m American – our people never had this intitution, in fact, we rebelled against it.
At any rate, we thought National Day – and the day preceding it – would be a good time to take a look at the two main Royal Palaces: Drottningholm Palace (“Drottningholms slott”); and, the Royal Palace (“Kungliga slottet”).
Drottningholm is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the current residence of King Carl XVI Gustaf and his wife, Queen Silvia. Here’s what it looks like from the approach:
If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I usually go off on historical tangents. At present, I don’t know enough about the history of Sweden to say much other than to tell you that Drottningholm Palace was designed and constructed at the height of Swedish power in the 1600s. They keep a few cannons outside as a reminder of those good ‘ole days.
As I said, the King lives in Drottningholm Palace, but he has to commute like the rest of us to his office downtown. Here’s where the King takes care of business, the Royal Palace on Gamla stan, built in the 1700s:
The police were in the process of cordoning off the drive as we arrived since the Royal Family was expected to return soon from the National Day celebrations down the road. We hustled up to the landing in front of the main entrance so I could take this photo back down the drive before they shooed everybody away. As you can see, there’s a lot of building going on in downtown Stockholm right now.
Drottningholm Palace, being the residence, had some interesting bedrooms, salons and other private rooms, but the really elaborate building was the Royal Palace where affairs of state are held. Here’s the banquet hall, seating available for 170, if I recall correctly.
Other European countries that still maintain royalty are Belgium, The Netherlands, Spain, and the tiny countries of Monaco, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. The United Kingdom, of course, also has its Royals, as well as its Commonwealth affiliates that genuflect to the Queen: the Caribbean nations of Antigua, The Bahamas, Barbuda, Bardados, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts, Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Belize; the Pacific nations of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands; and, the big boys – Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Besides that, here’s the list of the rest of the constitutional monarchies in the world today, not a real progressive group: Bahrain, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, Jordan, Kuwait, Lesotho, Malaysia, Morocco, Nepal, Samoa, Swaziland and Thailand. And Japan still has its emperor.
Fortunately, the monarchies of the world today are mainly ceremonial offices, as can be seen by a quick look, for example, at the King of Sweden’s calendar on any given day. It’s the elected Parliaments and the entrenched bureaucracies that really take care of the business of government.
And speaking of taking care of business, the King here in Sweden has two thrones for that purpose: one in the Royal Palace…