2021 – Spanish State Visit to Sweden

Although the official welcome did not take place until the morning of November 24th, Their Majesties King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia flew up to Stockholm the previous day. They were accompanied by the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr José Manuel Albares and Ms Diana Morant, Minister of Science and Innovation. Here they attended a reception at the Spanish Embassy for the Spanish community in Sweden. The Queen wore a snow white gown with an asymmetrical finish at the bottom. Her earrings were those of a large pearl hanging from a string of diamonds and she wore a rather modern gold ring on her index finger. As for accessories she combined the white dress with shoes and clutch in a grey colour with snake skin print.

Day 1

On November 24th the King and Queen of Spain were then officially received by Their Majesties King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia at the Royal Mews. The Spanish King wore his dress uniform of a Captain General (Grand Admiral) of the Spanish Royal Navy. With this he wore the pale blue Sash and the Breast Star of the Order of the Seraphim, the Breast Star of the Spanish Order of Charles III and the Neck-tie of the Order of the Golden Fleece. Likewise King Carl XVI Gustaf wore the dress uniform of an Admiral in the Swedish Royal Navy. He also wore a mix of Spanish and Swedish Orders. To honour his guests he of course wore the highest Spanish Order he possess; the Sash and Breast Star of the Order of Charles III. In addition he had pinned to his tunic the Breast Star of the Order of the Seraphim and around his neck he wore the yellow Neck-tie of the Order of the Sword.

Queen Letizia was dressed in a red dress from the designer Carolina Herrera. Because of the cold weather she wore a beige cape over the dress, also from Carolina Herrera. Her shoes, gloves and clutch matched the colour of cape, while the headband matched the colour of the dress. Queen Silvia had chosen to wear a thick coat of a vibrant purple colour with matching hat. She combined the look with modern earrings with red gemstones and her moth brooch with ruby and emerald body.

After having been warmly greeted by the King and Queen of Sweden both Royal Couples travelled in a stately procession through the streets of Stockholm to the Royal Palace. They were escorted by a mounted Sovereign’s escort. The two Kings drove in the first carriage while the two Queens followed immediately behind. Along the route Spanish and Swedish flags flew side by side and detachment of soldiers had been positioned lining the streets of the last stretch up to the Palace.

It created a splendid sight and unfortunately it is a great tradition no longer observed in many countries. But luckily Sweden is one of those who preserve this special way of welcoming the Heads of State paying a State Visit to the country. It definitely gives a special flavour to such rare and important visits.

In the Royal Palace’s inner courtyard the official welcoming ceremony continued. A military band played the Spanish as well as the Swedish National Anthems. King Felipe VI, accompanied by his Royal host, then proceeded to inspect the Guard of Honour lined up in their spotless full dress uniforms. The King and Queen of Spain were next introduced to the dignitaries present by the Grand Master of Ceremonies and the Master of Ceremonies in their fantastic Court uniforms: the President of the Riksdag (the Swedish Parliament) together with the Vice Presidents. Sweden’s Prime Minister was absent though. The Spanish State Visit takes place at a very unusual time in Sweden as the outgoing Prime Minister, Mr Stefan Löfven, announced some months ago that he would not seek re-election as party chairman at the Party Congress and as a consequence he would resign the Premiership once the new Party Chairman had been elected. The new Party Chairman, Ms Magdalena Andersson, was consequently elected as the new Swedish Prime Minister on the same day the Spanish State Visit began. However, shortly after the vote it was announced that the coalition partner had decided to leave the Government. Another vote was therefore needed to see if the Parliament accepted Ms Anderson as the new Prime Minister. Thus neither Mr Löfven nor Ms Andersson were able to be present at the welcoming ceremony as they were occupied with the voting in the Riksdag (Parlament). Present though in the inner courtyard were other members of the Swedish Government as well as representatives from various civilian and military authorities.

The two Royal Couples then entered the Palace, where they were greeted by Her Royal Highness Crown Prince Victoria and her husband His Royal Highness Prince Daniel in the Victoria Salon. Also there to welcome them were Their Royal Highnesses Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia. Official photographs were taken in the Bernadotte Gallery and an exchange of gifts took place. Apart from any carefully selected gifts from the Spanish Royal Couple the King of Spain awarded new honours to the members of the Swedish Royal Family present (see here). This did not include King Carl XVI Gustaf who had already received the highest Spanish Order; the Golden Fleece during the previous Swedish State Visit to Spain back in 1983.

A private luncheon followed next in Princess Sibylla’s Apartment where both the Crown Princessly Couple and the Princely Couple attended. Crown Princess Victoria wore a baby blue dress from Andiata to which she had pinned the small pin of the Order of the Seraphim. Her husband Prince Daniel donned a dark suit and tie, also with the pin of a Knight of the Order of the Seraphim fastened to his lapel. Prince Carl Philip on the other hand was dressed in his naval uniform wearing the Sash and Breast Star of the Order of the Seraphim, the black Neck-tie of the Order of the Northern Star and several medals. His wife wore a black dress with floral prints from Ida Sjostedt topped with a black headpiece by the designer brand “M”(source on the dresses: UFO No More  @ufonomore on Twitter). She also wore earrings from LWL Jewelry.

First post on the programme in the afternoon was a visit to the Nobel Museum in the old centre of Stockholm. Both Kings had by now changed into suit and tie and Queen Letizia had removed her headpiece. Here they were given a tour of the special exhibition on the Spanish neuroscientist Santiago Ramón y Cajal who received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1906 for his pivotal work. This made him the first Nobel Laureate in Science of Spanish origin.

After the visit to the museum King Felipe VI made a courtesy call on the President of the Riksdag. Meanwhile Queen Letizia was accompanied by Queen Silvia and Crown Princess Victoria to the Karolinska Institute where they attended a seminar on issues concerning disabilities and rare illnesses.

State Banquet

In the evening the King and Queen of Sweden hosted a splendid State Banquet at the Royal Palace in honour of the King and Queen of Spain.

The banquet was held in the large Ball Room, also called “Vita Havet” (White Ocean) where tables were arranged for about 90 persons. The number of guests had to be reduced from the normal number of about 150 in order to observe the distancing due to the current Covid-19 situation. Also in normal circumstances there would have been just one large table. But because of the situation the guests had been placed around various small tables in the grand room. The main table was a bit larger and longer than the other round tables.

Before going into the Ball Room, now converted into a grand dining room, the Swedish Royal Family and their Royal guests received the other guests in Louise Ulrica’s Dining Room. Once the guests had been shown to their places the Royal Procession began its way to Vita Havet. The Swedish Queen and the King of Spain walked first. Walking right behind them were the King of Sweden and Queen Letizia. Behind them again came Crown Princess Victoria with her husband Prince Daniel and lastly Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia.

Both Kings and both Princes were dressed in white-tie. King Felipe wore for the first time the Collar of the Order of the Seraphim he had been given earlier in the day by King Carl XVI Gustaf. In addition he wore the Breast Star of the same Order and the Breast Star of the Order of Carlos III. Around his neck he also wore the Neck-tie of the Order of the Golden Fleece. King Carl XVI Gustaf wore the Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece which he had received at the start of his State Visit to Spain in 1983. In addition he wore the Breast Stars of the Order of Carlos III and the Order of the Seraphim. The Swedish King also wore the Neck-tie of the Order of the Polar Star.

Prince Daniel and Prince Carl Philip had both been awarded the Spanish Order of Civil Merit and naturally wore the Order’s blue Sash with a thin white stripe in the middle and the Order’s Breast Star. As for Swedish Orders they both wore the Breast Star of the Order of the Seraphim and the black Neck-tie of the Order of the Polar Star.

To Prince Daniel’s left was Queen Silvia and Ms Teresa Riesgo Alcaide, Under Secretary for Innovation, had been place to his right.

The Royal ladies looked dazzling in their diamonds, gold and gems. Queen Letizia had chosen an evening gown in black tulle by the Swedish company H&M. Anybody thinks that was a coincidence? In fact, Crown Princess Victoria has been seen wearing a very similar one too, also from H&M. The Spanish Queen wore for the first time the Sash and Star of the Order of the Seraphim, a gift from the King of Sweden. She didn’t wear any additional Orders.

With many previous State Visits when the visiting Head of State has been a fellow monarch the Swedish Queen wears the incredibly impressive Braganza tiara. It must weigh a ton and it is understandable that Queen Silvia finds it too heavy to wear these days. Instead she had chosen to wear the tiara from the Cameo parure. This is also a tiara that is not often seen, so that must have been selected to show the importance of this visit. The Queen had selected a golden evening gown and she wore, also she for the first time, the Sash and Breast Star of the Order of Carlos III. In addition she wore the Breast Star of the Order of the Seraphim as well as the Portrait of King Carl XVI Gustaf in a Diamond frame. At the table she, as the hostess of the evening, was sitting next to the guest of honour, the King of Spain. The Spanish Foreign Minister had the honour of sitting to the Queen’s right.

Crown Princess Victoria had chosen a gown by the Swedish designer Fida Jonsvens with bright and colourful floral embroidery. She sat to the left of the Spanish King and to her own left she had the Swedish still Prime Minister Mr Löfven.

Princess Sofia had gone for a snow white Safiyaa Heliconia Drape Fishtail evening gown. And to mirror the white she had selected diamonds and pearls. She was not sitting at the main table, but had instead been placed at one of the round tables like her husband.

The tables had been beautifully set with the silver service which is an heirloom from the Empress of Brazil. It had been placed on top of shining white table cloths. The glassware was a wedding present from the Swedish Parliament to King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia in 1976. The fish course was served on plates procured by Queen Josephine in the late 1800. Porcelain plates dating from the 1850s originally having belonged to Queen Victoria of Sweden’s mother the Grand Duchess of Baden were used for the meat course.

In the centre of the main table had been placed a large tall silver jardinière filled with freshly cut flowers kept mainly in orange and red colours. Smaller floral decorations in the same colours were placed in smaller jardinières out on the main table and the smaller round tables as well.

A varied four course menu awaited the guests:

Baked char with roe, chive, sour cream and bread with spices

Grilled wild turbot and Swedish octopus with leek compote served with butter sauce flavoured with gooseberry and “Kalix löjrom” (roe of the small salmonid fish species Vendace)   

Smoked reindeer with mushroom croquettes, beetroot baked in coffee and reindeer gravy

Autumn apple in salty caramel with rosemary, almond, “brioche feuilletée” and Tahitian vanilla flavoured ice cream  

The glittering jewels and Orders worn by the Royal Ladies:

Queen Letizia

The Grand Ansorena Fleur-de-lis tiara

No Necklace

Diamond earrings from the “lote de pasar”

The two Diamond bracelets from the “lote de pasar”

Front element of the modern Fleur-de-lis tiara as brooch

Sash and Breast Star of the Order of the Seraphim

Queen Silvia

Tiara from the Cameo parure

No necklace

Large Pear-shaped Pearl earrings

Bracelet from the Cameo parure on left wrist

Pearl bracelet on right wrist

Brooch from the Cameo parure

Sash and Breast Star of the Order of Carlos III

Breast Star of the Order of the Seraphim

Portrait of King Carl XVI Gustaf in Diamond frame

Crown Princess Victoria

The Aquamarine Kokoshnik tiara

Small Diamond rivière

Diamond hoop earrings

Diamond Lozenge brooch

Small Diamond brooch at the back

Sash and Breast Star of the Order of Isabel the Catholic

Breast Star of the Order of the Seraphim

Portrait of King Carl XVI Gustaf in Diamond frame

Princess Sofia

Her own wedding tiara topped with Pearls

No necklace

Diamond hoop earrings

Small Diamond floral brooch at the front

Small Diamond round brooch at the back

Sash and Breast Star of the Order of Civil Merit

Breast Star of the Order of the Seraphim

Portrait of King Carl XVI Gustaf in Diamond frame