HM The King's speech at the state banquet in connection with the state visit from Italy
Royal Palace, Stockholm
(The spoken version shall take precedence)
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour and pleasure for Her Majesty the Queen and me to welcome His Excellency the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella and his daughter, Madame Laura Mattarella, to Sweden.
A State Visit is a unique opportunity to reaffirm, and celebrate, the friendship between two countries. In the case of Italy and Sweden, the bonds between us go back a long way.
Over the centuries, Italy’s wealth of culture and history has inspired some of Sweden’s most prominent cultural, scientific and political personalities. The Swedish Institute in Rome and Villa San Michele on Capri are living proof that this heritage is very much alive today.
The Swedish Institute was in fact founded by my grandfather, King Gustav VI Adolf. He would travel to Italy on a yearly basis to participate in archaeological excavations. And every time he returned to Sweden, he would have new and exciting stories to tell my sisters and me.
My grandfather is just one of several Swedish monarchs who have had a close affinity with Italy.
Another was Queen Christina, in the 17th century, who went to live in Italy, where she later became a patron of the arts and sciences.
Yet another was King Gustav III, whose collection of
classical Italian art can still be seen here at the
Royal Palace, in Sweden’s oldest public art museum
– Gustav III’s Antiquities Museum – which we visited earlier today.
In more recent times, Her Majesty the Queen and I have had the pleasure of paying two State Visits to Italy.
This is the second Italian State Visit that we have received. And just two years ago, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel paid a very successful official visit to Rome and Milan.
So, as you can see, the exchange of visits between Sweden and Italy is a tradition that my family and I are very happy to uphold.
Today, many Italians travel to Sweden for pleasure,
study and work. More than one thousand young Italians came to Sweden last year to study at a Swedish university, for example. And almost as many young Swedes are studying in Italy today.
Also, over the years, many thousands of Italians have made their home here. And they have made great contributions to Swedish society.
During this visit, we will focus on a few areas in which our countries already enjoy successful cooperation and exchanges, and further potential exists.
These areas include digital transformation, European cooperation, especially in scientific research, and arts and culture.
Just like Italy, Sweden is a long-stretched and geographically diverse country. I am very pleased that I will have the opportunity to show our guests not only our beautiful capital, but also the city of Lund.
This university town in the very south of Sweden is home to one of Northern Europe’s oldest
universities, and the more recently established
European Spallation Source, which I look forward to visiting with our guests on Thursday.
Few things embody European cooperation better than the impressive ESS project – with Italy’s contribution at the heart of it, including the ion source built in Catania.
European cooperation has indeed opened up new possibilities. Both our countries are committed members of the European Union, working together across borders. And there are plenty of opportunities to develop this further.
With new technologies and innovations, and with forward-looking businesses and industries, we can work together to tackle and overcome the challenges of our time.
I very much look forward – with great confidence – to seeing what new cooperative ventures may come out of this State Visit.
President Mattarella, First Lady, distinguished guests: allow me to once again extend to you a very warm welcome to Sweden.
To you, President Mattarella, to the First Lady, to the people of Italy, and to the enduring friendship between Italy and Sweden, I would now like to raise a toast.