Dear Swedish citizens at home and abroad.
I wish to convey to you all my Christmas greetings.
As I look out of the window here at the Royal Palace this cold and snowy winter 2010, I can see Nationalmuseum on the other side of the water, through the snowstorm. The museum is displaying the exhibition, Staging Power. It is one of the many manifestations that have been devoted to the Bernadotte Jubilee this year.
It is 200 years this year since Sweden's Parliament gathered in Örebro and elected Napoleon's marshal Jean Baptiste Bernadotte as the new successor to the Swedish throne. It marked the beginning of the long period of peace that we have enjoyed ever since, an advantage that few other countries on this earth have been able to share with us. During Karl Johan's reign as successor to the throne, and later as regent, the foundations of modern Sweden were laid, including a new infrastructure, banking system and education system.
My family and I took part in celebrations in Örebro this year to mark the election of the successor to the throne. We also participated in celebrations in Helsingborg to commemorate the bicentenary of Jean Baptiste Bernadotte stepping onto Swedish soil for the first time, one stormy day on 20 October. We were not particularly lucky with the weather either, but it did not dampen the festivities in any way. I was particularly pleased that my cousin, Queen Margrethe of Denmark, also attended the celebration.
Christmas is a time for us to pause a while to spend time with our loved ones. It's a time for being with family, friends and relatives. But we must also remember that not everyone has someone to share the joy of Christmas with.
I would like to extend a particularly heartfelt greeting to all those of you who are alone or ill this Christmas. I hope that you too will feel some of the joy of Christmas and that next year will be a better and happier one for you. Those of us who can get together with our loved ones over Christmas have a particular responsibility. We must extend the hand of friendship and include those in our neighbourhood who we know are not as lucky. That is the giving message of Christmas.
Christmas is also a time for reflection over the year that has past, as well as hopes for the year to come.
One major family event this year was the wedding between our eldest daughter, Sweden's successor to the throne, Crown Princess Victoria, and Daniel on 19 June. It was a wonderful day and our joy was shared with the many hundreds of thousands of people who gathered along the route of the cortège and down by the Royal Palace, as well as the millions who followed the wedding on TV across the country and abroad. I would like to convey my and my family's heartfelt thanks for all the warmth and good wishes that have been shown to Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel.
In my Christmas speech last year I mentioned that The Queen and I intended to bring a dream that we have long had to fruition, the dream of creating a forum for highlighting the situation of children and young people in the world. The purpose is to inspire and support the observance of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. The first World Child and Youth Forum took place recently at the Royal Palace, with over 400 participants. The Forum brings together both representatives of various children's rights organisations, as well as many children and young people. This dialogue between the generations is vital — something that The Queen emphasised in her opening speech.
In the spring, The Queen and I made a state visit to Brazil. I also visited China just after the opening of the World Exhibition in Shanghai, and The Crown Princess and Prince Daniel were there in the autumn. We noted that the Swedish Pavilion held its own well among the 190 countries. In China there is a considerable amount of interest in what Sweden and Swedish companies stand for: quality, sustainable development, new environmental technology and innovations.
We are currently enjoying a period of strong economic growth in Sweden. Exports are growing and employment figures have begun to increase. But we need to be mindful of the financial uncertainty around the world and the consequences this may have.
Our planet is vulnerable. I usually think of the world as an apple, with the earth's crust as thin as apple peel.
During this past year we have been reminded time and again of how fragile this crust is. Haiti suffered an earthquake in which perhaps as many as 200,000 people were killed. During the year there were also major earthquakes in China, Turkey and Mexico. The volcano eruption on Iceland — when the apple peel broke, as it were — led to major disruption in air traffic across Europe, due to the ash cloud.
We also damaged the surface of the earth. The oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in a huge oil leak, lasting several months.
If the earth is an apple, then life on our earth — people, animals and plants — is as fragile as the dew on an apple, that can so easily be brushed off against your arm. We all have a duty to protect the earth's environment and work towards sustainable development. We have to succeed in reconciling the demands of poor countries for economic development with the need for measures to secure our shared future on this earth.
Many were disappointed at the outcome of the UN's environmental conference in Copenhagen last year. So it is pleasing to see that the latest meeting in Cancún in Mexico appears to have achieved results, results that indicate a better future development, even if there is still a long way to go before we achieve binding international agreements.
These are urgent problems, since the global population is growing. By 2050 there will be three billion more of us than there are today. How will we ensure that there is enough food, water and energy to meet our needs, while at the same time creating sustainable development and protecting the environment?
The answer to this question is more knowledge. Knowledge that is based on scientific fact. This is essential at a time when an increasing number of people believe that astrology is a science.
These were all topics for discussion when the ten Royal Academies gathered at the Royal Palace last month for another round of seminars in the Crown of Knowledge series.
Yes, we can rejoice in the fact that Sweden is at the forefront as a knowledge nation. The Swedish universities and university colleges are being ranked increasingly higher in annual international comparisons. Sweden is also to become the site of several new international, competitive research installations.
For example, in Lund, construction is starting on two new international centres for advanced material research, MAX IV and ESS. Furthermore, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University are working together to create a resource centre for large-scale research within molecular bioscience and medicine.
During the past year we have discovered new insights into the early origins of man. A Swedish researcher, Svante Pääbo, has managed to reconstruct the genetic make-up of our long since extinct closest relative, Neanderthal man. Comparing this genetic make-up with our own has given us new knowledge about what makes us unique, for example our advanced consciousness and intellect, as well as our highly developed social capabilities. Let's use these qualities to create a better world for everyone, to the best of our abilities.
I would like to finish with a few lines from Queen Silvia's prayer book. It is a prayer that was written by Archbishop Anders Wejryd:
"Help us to use the vital force you have put into your creation,
To conserve instead of consume,
And be builders instead of destroyers."
With these words I would once again like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and send my warmest greetings for the New Year.