“I love the king!”: tens of thousands of Swedes take to the streets for the royal procession

One is "against the monarchy", the other affirms that it should "not be abolished": on Saturday, under the sunny skies of Stockholm, tens of thousands of Swedes gathered to greet the royal procession of their king Carl XVI Gustaf, who is celebrating his 50th year on the throne

“I love the king!”: tens of thousands of Swedes take to the streets for the royal procession

One is "against the monarchy", the other affirms that it should "not be abolished": on Saturday, under the sunny skies of Stockholm, tens of thousands of Swedes gathered to greet the royal procession of their king Carl XVI Gustaf, who is celebrating his 50th year on the throne.

“I’m against the monarchy,” says Inga Jones, a 23-year-old nursing student. “I will tell him: I think you should leave, that you should leave the throne,” she hopes, adding that she will do it in a “kind way.”

Martin Persson does not have the same opinion. “We must not abolish the monarchy,” says this 60-year-old bus driver. "I think it's good and I hope to see it today," said the man from Västra Götaland county, on the west coast of Sweden.

To the sound of fanfares from the military orchestra and parades, six horses pull the carriage where the royal couple is seated: he, aged 77, is dressed in a sober suit and tie while she, Silvia of Sweden, born Silvia Renate Sommerlath, 79, wears a canary yellow ensemble.

The crowd applauds as they pass, waving small Swedish flags.

The center of the capital has been cordoned off, the police anticipate several hundred thousand spectators. These celebrations were placed under high security, in a country which recently raised its terrorist alert level after several events organized in Stockholm in recent months where an Iraqi refugee desecrated the Koran.

Nothing to scare Christina Flodin, who came to tip her hat to the royal couple.

“I am here to celebrate (his) 50th birthday with him, I want to show my gratitude for everything he does,” this 59-year-old administrative manager told AFP. For her, the monarch represents “continuity, stability, a good model of leader”.

The royal procession is surrounded by some 3,000 soldiers and sailors of the armed forces, who are photographed all around by the audience.

Wendela Seppi is busy on her phone, trying to contact her mother. She did not come for the king, she confided to AFP. “My brother is in the navy and participates in the parade,” explains the 23-year-old industrial operator. “It’s quite unreal, I find it nice that something is happening” in Stockholm.

After the procession, a concert is organized by the city of Stockholm where several big names from the Swedish music scene will perform, before the city center is transformed into a gigantic dance floor. On the program: boogie-woogie, Cuban salsa, rock'n'roll, disco and classic Swedish hits.

The excitement can be felt in Annika Nilsson, who exclaims: “I love the king and the royal family!” “I’m proud of it, I’m proud to be Swedish, I’m proud of our country.”

Born on April 30, 1946, Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus Bernadotte, descendant of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte - a French soldier who became King of Sweden in 1818 - was only 27 when he acceded to the throne on September 15, 1973.

While many Swedes say they are indifferent to their constitutional monarchy, a majority continues to support it.

According to a recent poll by the national daily Dagens Nyheter and the Ipsos institute, 62% of those questioned say they support the monarchy, a rate that has remained constant for 20 years.

And this, despite the scandals which have splashed the king and his family - in 2010, among others, a shocking book depicts him as a womanizer and claims that he frequented sex clubs in the 90s, an image which he It was difficult for him to let go.

17/09/2023 07:52:30 -         Stockholm (AFP) -         © 2023 AFP