HM The King's Christmas speech 2016

The Royal Palace, Stockholm

(The spoken version shall take precedence)

Dear people of Sweden, both at home and abroad. Everyone in Sweden!


These words are of key importance to me. They are sometimes used to describe good leadership. However, I believe that they can be good guiding principles for us all. Not least at times when we face great challenges.

According to researchers, 2016 looks to have been the warmest year on record. Temperatures are continuing to rise, both in the sea and on land. Over the past year we have seen how extreme weather conditions have caused great losses around the world – in economic terms, but particularly also in human terms.

Climate changes affect us all: our opportunities to obtain food and clean water, to support ourselves, and ultimately to protect life and property. People's living conditions are closely linked to how we take care of our environment.

Here in Sweden, we can get clean water straight from the tap. We often don't even think about it. We take it for granted. The global water shortage may feel like a distant issue, but it concerns us all. After a dry summer and autumn, the groundwater levels are unusually low. This has led to water shortages in many parts of Sweden, including on Öland, where we had to bring tankers of water from the mainland.

This creates a difficult situation for many people, not least for farmers. It is also an important reminder of how reliant we are on clean water.

The Royal Family is strongly committed to water-related issues. And I am particularly pleased that The Crown Princess has chosen to focus on marine and water issues in her role as an advocate for the UN's global development goals.

Climate change and other environmental problems do not respect national borders. What happens on the other side of the planet affects us, and vice versa. This is why the climate agreement signed in Paris last year is so important. We need to work together to reverse the trend.

Protecting the environment is not only a question of ethics. It is also a question of survival.

Sweden is a forest nation. This is a fantastic natural resource, which covers more than half the surface of our country. The size of our productive woodland corresponds to more than three football pitches per inhabitant. Forestry is an important industry, but forests are also popular places for recreation. Many of us feel a special sense of peace and happiness when we can spend a few hours in a beautiful, silent forest.

There is a long tradition of forestry in Sweden. Over many generations we have built up valuable knowledge of how to make good use of the opportunities offered by forests.

During the past year I have visited many businesses based on this knowledge, which contribute in various ways towards long-term sustainable development.

I visited Skåne in the summer to open the MAX IV research facility, which will attract researchers from all over the world. One of many exciting ongoing projects involves developing new materials using raw materials from Swedish forestry.

Development also involves adaptation. For example, I visited a former pulp mill in Ångermanland which had been converted into a modern facility for manufacturing products such as biofuel.

And in Västerbotten, I got a fascinating insight into environmentally friendly forestry research.

Swedish research and technical expertise are important assets, both for the environment and as a foundation for Sweden's future prosperity.

During the year, The Queen and I took part in three state visits: two outgoing and one incoming. These featured dramatic contrasts, from our visit to the tiny kingdom of Bhutan in the Himalayas to the populous Germany, one of Sweden's biggest trading partners. We also received a state visit from Chile, a nation with which many Swedes have close links, despite the great geographical distance.

One thing that these visits have had in common is an interest in sustainability, the climate and the environment. These are issues where we have a great deal to learn from each other.

State visits help to create dialogue and an exchange of knowledge between Sweden and other countries. I see this as an important part of my role as Sweden's Head of State.

In a few days, Sweden will be joining the UN Security Council. This will be an important forum during the coming years. I am convinced that our nation will be a positive force for peace and security. Sweden is needed!

Terror attacks, armed conflict and uncertainty – these are troubled times. Where is the world heading to? This is a question that I have often asked myself during the last year. And I believe that I am not alone.

The flow of news never ceases, and it can be hard to take everything in. The hardest thing to digest is the images and stories of children suffering. Working for the rights of children feels more important today than ever before.

We may well feel uneasy about the future, but we must not allow our fears to control our everyday lives. We all have a responsibility to act as role models for our children and young people.

Once again: We must demonstrate courage, consideration and energy.
The courage to stand up for what is right.
Consideration for each other.
And the energy to intervene when someone needs help.

A short while ago, The Queen and I attended an ecumenical service in connection with Pope Francis' visit to Sweden. Catholics and Protestants came together in Lund Cathedral to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

During this historic meeting, we agreed to put unity before division. To focus on what we have in common instead of our differences. These steps towards reconciliation give us hope for the future!

As I look back on the past year, I feel a great debt of gratitude – including on a personal level.

Our family has grown with the addition of two young princes. During the summer, The Queen and I celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary. And I received many greetings and messages of congratulations on my own 70th birthday in the spring. I am thankful for the warmth and care that we experience. It means a lot to me and my family.

I would also like to send a special greeting to all the Swedish men and women who are currently far from home, taking part in various international peace and security assignments.

I would like to thank you for your valuable efforts. You and your families make great personal sacrifices, not least on special occasions like this. You deserve our respect and our thanks.

2016 is now drawing to a close. At some point next year, Sweden will gain its ten millionth inhabitant. This could be an immigrant, or someone returning home after a longer period overseas. It could be a child who is born somewhere in our country.

Whatever the circumstances, he or she will be a part of our shared future. To this person, I would like to say: Welcome! I wish you the very best!

With this, my family and I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year for 2017.