The King's banquets, the Royal Table, are among the highlights of present-day royal representation. The tradition goes way back, and meals at the princely courts of generations ago were an expression of stately and social position.
Tabula The word 'table' is taken from the Latin word 'tabula', which means tablet or plank. Medieval feasts were laid on simple wooden planks that were covered with table cloths.
Royal Household organisation The Royal Table is also an organisation within the Royal Household. Formal meals have always been part of official ceremonies. The Royal Household at the Royal Palace is managed by the Steward, while the Court Footman (Taffeltäckaren) is responsible for laying the Royal Table. These titles are still used at the Royal Court.
Nobel dinner in Karl XI's Gallery. Photo: The Royal Court.
The King and Queen's official dinners The King and Queen's official dinners normally take place in Karl XI's Gallery. On a few particularly momentous occasions the Hall of State and Vita Havet assembly rooms have been used, the Hall of State being used most recently for The King's 50th birthday party.
Silver tableware The gala table is always laid with real silver, which is also a tradition going way back. Silver cutlery, candelabra and centrepieces were visible evidence that the state's finances were in good order.
Inherited pieces The magnificent table also includes valuable porcelain and exquisite glass services, items handed down over the years or gifts from previous royal weddings and anniversaries. At their wedding in 1976 the Swedish government and Parliament (Riksdag) presented The King and Queen with 800 glasses featuring the King and Queen's monogram, a gift from the Swedish people that has become part of our cultural heritage.
Public suppers In the past, public observation of the royal meals was regarded as a civil right. But despite noisy protests from Stockholmers, Karl XIV Johan banned what were known as public suppers in connection with his son Oscar's (I) marriage to Princess Joséphine in 1823.
You could say that the tradition of public suppers has now been reintroduced, what with the televising of Nobel dinners and today's royal events. Major public viewing of a Swedish banquet has not occurred since the royal wedding in 1976. The wedding and subsequent wedding lunch were followed by an audience of several million all over the world.