HM The King's Christmas speech


The Royal Palace, Stockholm

(The spoken version shall take precedence)

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

"A child is born this day." So starts one of our most well-known Christmas hymns, with a text by the reformer Martin Luther.

Christmas is a Christian festival. We celebrate in memory of the birth of Jesus. However, Christmas's message - of peace, joy and fellowship - is universal and can be embraced by everyone. Regardless of where you come from or what you believe in.

This also applies to the challenge the Bible directs at us: Carry each other's burdens! Let us not become weary in doing good.

I know that there are many of you in our country who devote a lot of time and energy to precisely this: carrying the burdens of others. Helping to the best of your ability.

We see it time after time with different crises in society. After the terrorist act on Drottninggatan many people showed what it means to be a fellow human being. Who acted with courage, consideration and energy.

This desire to help also exists in everyday life. The hand that is extended in support, that knocks on the door of a sick neighbour, that invites the lonely into the community; that hand carries an enormous force, far stronger than hatred, violence and distrust.

2017 will inevitability be associated with the terror attack in Stockholm in April. Five people lost their lives. My family and I would like to direct our warmest sympathies to their families and those close to them on this difficult first Christmas.

This year has also represented the start of an important conversation between all of us. How are we to treat each other with respect? How are we to show each other consideration? How are we to strengthen responsibility and moral courage? These are questions which have always been important. But which have become particularly relevant after the autumn's many testimonies to unacceptable violations.

How we answer these questions will shape the society in which our children and young people grow up. I therefore hope that this is something that we continue to talk about, now and in the future.

When I look back on the year that has passed, there are a number of events in particular that I will remember:

Aurora, the biggest defence exercise in our country since the early 1990s, took place in September, with over 20,000 participants from eight countries and 40 or so civil authorities.

I personally had the privilege, together with Prince Carl Philip, to visit both Gotland and Sörmland to get a picture of the exercise in situ. I met both professional members of the military and volunteers on the ground, in the air and at sea. Men and women with different backgrounds who are ready to defend Sweden, our freedom and our democracy. I feel respect and gratitude for their commitment.

The climate meeting in Bonn in November was a confirmation that the important agreement from Paris 2015 is holding fast. Rising global emissions are a cause of concern. But there are constructive forces that are ready to take responsibility for the future.

Sweden is a relatively small country, but a large forest nation. We have been developing valuable knowledge over many years about how the forest can be managed in a way that is sustainable in the long-term. I am convinced that this knowledge will enable us to make an important contribution to the task of addressing the world's climate challenges.

In the evening of the sixth of December, on Finland's independence day, blue and white candles were lit in many windows in our neighbouring country to the east. A tradition that had additional significance in that Finland was celebrating one hundred years as an independent nation.

In June I personally took part in a splendid ceremony together with other Nordic Heads of State at the Hanaholmen Cultural Centre outside Helsinki. Many Swedes have their roots in Finland. Others have connections through personal ties. The Nordic community is strong. Not just historically. We are neighbours and colleagues. We cooperate and share the values of democracy and the equal worth of all people. In business and sport we are sometimes competitors. But above all we are family and friends.

Sweden's relations to the Nordic countries are important. As are our relations to other countries in the world. We will continue to cultivate them.

2017 has been an eventful year for my family too: Crown Princess Victoria celebrated her 40th birthday. A joyful celebration, with a fantastic gathering both in Stockholm and on Öland.

The Crown Princess has also commenced a series of walking tours that will proceed through all of Sweden's provinces. I have always had a strong commitment to nature and the environment, and is it gratifying to share this interest with my children. It is my hope that these walks through the provinces will contribute to more people opening their eyes to the fantastic natural environment to which all of us in Sweden have access.

During the year my family has expanded with a new member: Prince Gabriel. He was christened just a few weeks ago in the wintry Royal Chapel at Drottningholm, with water from our own spring on Öland. And we are now looking forward to welcoming another small child in the spring.

I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you for all the congratulations that we have received during the year and for the warm reception that we receive on our trips and visits to different activities. My family and I value this consideration highly.

I started this Christmas greeting by talking about carrying each other's burdens. People don't like to intrude. We don't like to place obligations on others. It can require courage, both to offer help and to receive it. My wish for the coming year is that we will all find this courage. To be not just people, but also fellow human beings.

With this thought, my family and I would like to wish everybody in our country a continued Merry Christmas with peace, joy and fellowship - and subsequently a Happy New Year for 2018.