Royal palaces and residences
Royal palaces, residences, churches, parks and stables. Four centuries of art and history.
The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace in Gamla Stan, Stockholm
The Royal Palace in Stockholm is the official residence of His Majesty the King, the Head of State. This is where the Head of State performs his constitutional, state ceremonial and official duties, together with the rest of the Royal Family, who assist the Head of State in his duties. It is also the physical workplace of the Royal Family and their administration.
Since the early Middle Ages, the palace has been the residence of Sweden's Head of State. To begin with, the building was more of a fortification. However, under King Gustav Vasa (1496–1560), one of Sweden's first modern kings, the country's administration was centralised here. The palace was transformed by degrees, drawing inspiration from manuals of architectural theory and using craftsmen who mainly came from other countries.
Throughout the 17th century, there was also a desire to turn the building into a Baroque palace in line with the construction ideals of the time. This was not achieved until the late 17th century, when King Karl XI (1654–1697) commissioned the architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger (1654–1728) to carry out extensive renovation work, which began in the North Wing.
On 7 May 1697, a fire broke out and spread across the roof. The newly renovated North Wing escaped relatively unscathed, but the other parts were deemed to have been so badly damaged that they were demolished. The Great Nordic War delayed the rebuilding work, but a 1727 parliamentary decision decreed that the nobility should fund the new palace, as it was impractical for Sweden's administration to be without a permanent workplace. The new Royal Palace was sufficiently complete by 1754 for the royal family and the administration to move in.
The Royal Palace is included in the right of disposal that was written into the 1809 Instrument of Government and left unchanged in the Instrument of Government of 1 January 1975. The well-preserved interiors are largely accessible to the public.
Drottningholm Palace on Lovön in Ekerö Municipality
The Royal House of Bernadotte has made use of Drottningholm Palace since the time of King Oscar I (1799–1859). In 1981, the current Royal Family moved from the Royal Palace in Stockholm to Drottningholm Palace, which has been The King and Queen's private residence ever since.
The Royal Domain of Drottningholm has been preserved intact since the 18th century, and is therefore an excellent example of an authentic palace environment from the 17th and 18th centuries. As a result, UNESCO designated Drottningholm a World Heritage Site in 1991. Drottningholm's rich heritage dates back to the 16th century, when King Johan III took an interest in the royal estate of Torvesund and had a small palace built there for his wife Queen Katarina Jagellonica (1526–1583). Like several other Swedish queens, she has a strong connection to Drottningholm Palace. Queen Dowager Hedvig Eleonora (1636–1715) took over the palace in 1661, but on the day before New Year's Eve in 1661 the old palace burned down. The fire presented an opportunity to build a palace that would be more prominent by international comparison. Architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder (1615–1681) had carried out a study visit to Europe between 1651 and 1653, and the result was a highly suitable palace that featured architectural elements inspired by the palaces of France and Italy.
Lovisa Ulrika (1720–1782) married Crown Prince Adolf Fredrik (1710–1771), to the accompaniment of Johan Helmich Roman's Drottningholm Music, in the Hall of State at Drottningholm Palace in 1744. Lovisa Ulrika had a number of interiors created, including to house her collections of art, coins and medals. Carl Linnaeus was one of the experts who helped to catalogue her collections.
Lovisa Ulrika passed on the right of disposal to her son Gustav III (1746–1792). The park was expanded with a system of canals and islands, and is now an excellent example of the 18th century English park ideals.
Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred, Strängnäs Municipality
A letter dated 1381 shows that Seneschal of the Realm Bo Jonsson Grip (1335–1386) resided at his estate of Gripsholm at that time. We can therefore conclude that there was an appropriate building here for a man of his status. Queen of the Union Margareta assumed ownership in 1404, after which Gripsholm became a crown estate that has been at the disposal of Sweden's kings and regents ever since.
The castle is still part of the royal right of disposal, which was written into the 1809 Instrument of Government and left unchanged in the Instrument of Government that came into force on 1 January 1975.
Gripsholm is considered to be one of the finest examples of Vasa Renaissance architecture, particularly externally, but a few interiors from the time of King Gustav I Vasa (1496–1560) still remain. During the 17th century, Gripsholm was occupied by several queens including Hedvig Eleonora, who used it for 61 years. Her desire to surround herself with family portraits meant that she built up a large collection of paintings here.
In 1772, King Gustav III moved to Gripsholm. He mentions in a letter how "I imagine that I have returned to the time of King Gustav I, which fills me with indescribable pleasure". He recognised the importance of emphasising his links to the House of Vasa, but more modern interiors were required and a theatre was also constructed in one of the towers. The portrait collection was expanded further, but it was not until 1822 that it became known as the State Portrait Collection. The collection now includes more than 5,000 portraits, and it continues to grow. Every year, an honorary portrait is painted of someone who has made outstanding contributions within their field.
The castle is open to the public. Both the art collections and the building itself offer an excellent insight into many different periods of Swedish history.
The Chinese Pavilion
The Chinese Pavilion in Drottningholm Park on Lovön, Ekerö Municipality
On 24 June 1753, Queen Lovisa Ulrika's birthday was celebrated with a theatrical performance in the Hall of State at Drottningholm Palace. The royal party then rode through the park to its final destination: the newly built Chinese Pavilion, which had been secretly erected for the queen. To keep it a secret, the corner-timbered building had been constructed at Arsenalen in Stockholm and transported by night on barges before being assembled on site.
The Queen appreciated the small pavilion, although it lacked modern conveniences. However, thoughts about improving the building led to its demolition. Carl Fredrik Adelcrantz (1716–1796) was in the process of building Drottningholm Theatre, and the design of the new theatre's festive interiors led quite naturally to the spectacular interior and exterior of the Chinese Pavilion. The pavilion presented an idealised view of the exotic far-eastern nation, which was famous for its fine artisan objects. Avenues of trees were planted in different directions next to the pavilion. Small factories to produce oriental-inspired objects were built alongside the avenue leading to Lovö Church. The street was named Kanton after the Chinese city now known as Guangzhou, and still bears the name to this day.
The building's interiors were restored in the 1960s. A careful study was made of the inventory drawn up in 1777 when Lovisa Ulrika handed over the palace, and all the objects taken from the pavilion were brought back. King Gustav VI Adolf's (1882–1973) expertise in Chinese porcelain and his interest in the reconstruction work were particularly helpful. To this day, the Chinese Pavilion remains part of the royal right of disposal, which was written into the 1809 Instrument of Government and remains in the Instrument of Government that came into force on 1 January 1975. The Chinese Pavilion features well-preserved interiors, and is also fully furnished. This, and its unique collection of Chinese porcelain and ceramics, were important factors in the decision to add the Royal Domain of Drottningholm to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1991.
Ulriksdal Palace in Solna
Field Marshal Jacob de la Gardie had Jacobsdal Palace built in 1639. His son Magnus Gabriel often invited Queen Kristina here, and the queen's coronation procession set off from here in 1650. In 1669, Jacobsdal was bought by Queen Dowager Hedvig Eleonora. She gave it to her grandson Prince Ulrik as a christening gift a few years later, whereupon the name was changed to Ulriksdal. The prince died the following year, and the palace reverted to Hedvig Eleonora who owned it until her death in 1715. Later in the 18th century, a theatre was built in the former manège, now Confidencen.
During the time of King Karl XIV Johan, the palace became a home for military invalids for a number of years. The interiors were removed and sold. In 1856, the scaled-back Ulriksdal was transferred to Crown Prince Karl (XV). He wanted to turn the palace into a romantic mediaeval castle, in line with the prevailing ideals. No exterior changes were ever made, but the interior was transformed into an idealised vision of life in the 1640s. Several buildings were built in the park, including the palace chapel.
Gustav (VI) Adolf married Louise Mountbatten in 1923, and Ulriksdal was renovated as the couple's residence. King Karl XV's interiors were largely replaced with Swedish 1920s classicism interiors. The living room, featuring furniture designed by Carl Malmsten, transformed a knights' hall into a modern, homely family room.
Nationalmuseum has reinstated some of the objects that were kept at Ulriksdal during various historic eras. Since 1988, the Orangery in the park has also housed Swedish sculpture from the museum's collections. Ulriksdal Palace and the surrounding area are included by the royal right of disposal, which was written into the 1809 Instrument of Government and remains in the Instrument of Government that came into force on 1 January 1975.
Rosersberg Palace in Sigtuna Municipality
After a long diplomatic career, Bengt Gabrielsson Oxenstierna (1623–1702) took an interest in his father's estate, named after his grandmother's family Tre Rosor ('Three Roses'). His brother-in-law, the famous architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger, helped him to transform the building into a magnificent Baroque palace. The Baroque influences can still be seen, particularly in the palace's setting and its perspective of length.
The palace was presented to Prince Karl (1748–1818) in 1762. Following the death of his brother King Gustav III in 1792, he became the guardian of his nephew King Gustav IV Adolf and, after the latter's abdication in 1809, Duke Karl was elected regent. However, he would not become King Karl XIII until he had accepted the new Instrument of Government, which came into force on 6 June 1809. This included the right of disposal over the royal palaces, which still applies in the current Instrument of Government dated 1 January 1975.
During the time of King Karl XIII, a distinguished home was created at Rosersberg with a spectacular English park. His adopted son Karl XIV Johan took over the palace, which subsequently became his wife Desideria's jointure. Her possessions, which remain at the palace, form part of its fascinating, well-preserved environment.
Rosersberg Palace is open to the public. Today, it is mainly a visitor attraction, but the palace is sometimes used for official representation. An interesting meeting took place here in May 2008, with attendees including UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. They were received by The King at Rosersberg, which is close to Stockholm's Arlanda Airport.
Strömsholm Palace, Kolbäck Municipality, Västmanland
Strömsholm's history dates back to 1528, when King Gustav Vasa (1496–1560) inherited the watermill in Mölntorp on the Kolbäck River. He bought Mölntorp Farm in the 1550s, and established a new stud farm there.
In 1669, Queen Hedvig Eleonora (1636–1715) commissioned her favourite architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder (1615–1681) to build an almost brand new palace, which is the present-day building. However, it was her son King Karl XI (1655–1697) who was most fond of spending time here, perhaps because he was able to supervise the breeding work carried out at the stud farm – an essential activity at the time, in order to provide the army with suitable horses. The walls of the Hall of State are covered with life-sized portraits of horses: King Karl XI's horses, depicted by Court Painter David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl (1628–1698). Following the death of King Karl XI, his mother Hedvig Eleonora visited Strömsholm less and less often.
The next queen to leave her mark on the palace was Sofia Magdalena (1746–1813), the wife of King Gustav III (1746–1792). The wall panel paintings in the dining room – an excellent example of the contemporary craze for chinoiserie – were produced during her time here.
The royal right of disposal was written into the Instrument of Government in 1809. This means that the state owns the royal palaces, but they can only be placed at the disposal of the Head of State unless there are compelling reasons for another body to use them. The Strömsholm area was chosen in 1868 for the Army's riding and driving school, in view of its excellent pastures and the good condition of its stable buildings and manège. When the Army left the palace in the 1960s, the Swedish Equestrian Federation took over the riding activities at Strömsholm. Horse racing is often arranged here against the magnificent backdrop of the palace, which is open to the public.
Tullgarn Palace in Södertälje Municipality, Södermanland
The palace enjoys a beautiful location on a promontory in the Baltic Sea. The park includes a water treatment plant that is adapted to the ecocycle, ensuring biodiversity and excellent growing conditions for the surrounding wildlife.
Tullgarn was purchased by the nobility in 1772 for Fredrik Adolf, Duke of Östergötland and younger brother of King Gustav III, and thus became a royal summer palace. Here, he enjoyed the country life and a more relaxed ceremonial style, in contrast to the formality of King Gustav III's court. The interiors at Tullgarn are among the finest Gustavian interiors in the country. Fredrik Adolf's travels to France and Italy influenced him strongly. In the years leading up to his death – between 1800 and 1803 – he added wings and an additional storey, giving the palace its present appearance.
Following the death of Queen Josefina (wife of King Oscar I) in 1876, the palace passed to King Oscar II. However, the right of disposal was transferred directly to Crown Prince Gustav. He and Crown Princess Victoria used inspiration and souvenirs from their travels when designing the interiors. The breakfast room is a homely interpretation of a German tavern, and is used today by The King and his guests for his annual hunting lunches.
King Gustav V ascended to the throne in 1907. Two years later, Tullgarn was visited by the Russian Tsar Nicholas II. The tsar's entire family signed the guestbook, which can be seen in the palace's show apartments. Following the death of King Gustav V in 1950, King Gustav VI Adolf took over the palace, overseeing its sympathetic restoration and opening it to the public.
Tullgarn is included in the royal right of disposal. This was written into the 1809 Instrument of Government, and remains in the Instrument of Government that came into force on 1 January 1975.
Gustav III's Pavilion
Gustav III's Pavilion in Haga Park, Solna
The newly crowned King Gustav III (1746–1792) bought Old Haga, a small house located in the southern part of the modern-day park. After travelling to Italy and France in 1783–84, his visits intensified and so too did his plans to create something magnificent at Haga. The area is situated on Lake Brunnsviken, and features incredibly beautiful undulating terrain.
Haga underwent a period of change, and grand plans were drawn up for new buildings, including a large palace, and for the layout of the English park. These plans required additional land, and in 1785 the neighbouring Brahelund Farm was purchased. Its main building replaced Old Haga as the king's private retreat, becoming his own private pavilion. However, the old stone building had to be adapted according to the king's new tastes. The architect Olof Tempelman (1745–1816) had a classical style that suited King Gustav III's wishes perfectly. The interiors were produced by Louis Masreliez (1748–1818), and are considered to be among the finest in Sweden from the period, thanks largely to his knack of drawing the surrounding grounds into the décor of the rooms – including through reflections in the expensive mirrors. Following Gustav III's assassination in 1792, work on the palace's construction came to a halt. However, his son King Gustav IV Adolf used the pavilion regularly from his father's death until his own abdication in 1809.
During the time of King Oskar I (1799–1859), the palace was renovated. A century later, in the 1940s, it was renovated once again. At this time, the value of the unique setting was understood and the decision was made to open it up to the public, resulting in the restoration of some of King Gustav III's interiors. The pavilion was opened as a museum of Gustavian interior art in 1949.
Haga Palace in Haga Park, Solna
Among the older generation, Haga Palace is closely associated with the childhood days of King Carl XVI Gustaf and his older sisters during the 1930s and 1940s. Since 2010, a Swedish heir to the throne has lived at the palace once again. Crown Princess Victoria and her family took over the palace after the Government gave the newlywed couple right of disposal. The Government had used Haga Palace to receive foreign dignitaries since 1966. From a historical perspective, however, Haga Palace's current function as a family home for the heir to the throne is far more in keeping with tradition.
Haga Park has been in royal ownership since the time of King Gustav III. His son, King Gustav IV Adolf (1778–1837), assumed power on coming of age in 1796, and married the following year. The couple wanted to continue to use Haga, with its beautiful setting next to Lake Brunnsviken. Haga Palace was completed in 1805 to plans by Carl Christopher Gjörwell, and featured interiors in a Late Gustavian style that hinted at the delicate décor of the Empire style. When Gustav IV Adolf abdicated in 1809, a new Instrument of Government was drawn up which included the royal palaces, with Haga among them. The palaces thereby came under the royal right of disposal, which remained unchanged in the Instrument of Government that came into force on 1 January 1975.
Prince August, Duke of Dalarna (1831–1873), took over the palace together with his wife, Princess Teresia. Haga was then redecorated in the new styles of the 19th century. Following her husband's death, Teresia lived permanently at the palace until her death in 1914.
The current King's parents, Prince Gustav Adolf (1906–1947) and Princess Sibylla (1908–1972), moved into the palace after their wedding in 1932. The light interior style of the time represented a clean break with 19th century interiors, as the simpler lines of the Late Gustavian style emerged. A modern home was created for the family, but after King Gustav Adolf's death in 1947 the family moved to Royal Palace in central Stockholm.
Rosendal Palace on Royal Djurgården in Stockholm
There were two reasons why King Karl XIV Johan (1763–1844) liked to spend time at Djurgården. One reason was that he wanted to supervise the mounted soldiers of the First Life Guard, who would carry out military manoeuvres at Gärdet. As a former marshal of France, military life remained close to his heart even after becoming King of Sweden in 1818. The second – and perhaps more important – reason was to come closer to the people, who had access to the palace's park area.
The palace was designed by Fredrik Blom, and its interiors were created between 1825 and 1832. The décor is considered to be as French as it was possible to achieve in Sweden. The inspiration came from the French Empire, a style that is referred to as Karl Johan style in Sweden. King Karl XIV Johan's wife Queen Desideria (1777–1860), who had recently moved back to Sweden from France, provided stylistic advice. Silk woven in Sweden and Swedish furniture makers were chosen, as the king wanted to encourage domestic production.
Djurgården was transformed into a park for recreation, including education and knowledge in the form of a museum, positioned on a hill above Rosendal Palace. The museum project came to nothing, but a museum was eventually opened at the palace itself. In 1913, the building was opened to the public. Since then, visitors have been able to see King Karl Johan's objects and interiors, selected in accordance with a codicil to King Oscar II's (1829–1907) will. The palace has been managed by the Royal Djurgården Administration since 1910.
The King and Queen previously used the palace for certain representation activities. However, since amenities such as the electricity supply are not up to modern standards, the building has only been used for public visits since the 1990s.
The Royal Stables
HM The King's Royal Stables
The current buildings at the Royal Stables were completed in 1894, and were designed by the palace official Ernst Jacobsson. The complex takes the form of a brick fortress, with towers and walls surrounding a magnificent inner courtyard.
The Royal Stables currently comprises ten buildings, including two stable buildings. The horses at the Royal Stables stand in boxes on beds of wood chippings, with an area of just over 12 square meters. The Royal Stables also includes a manège, workshops, a garage and residential apartments.
The garage houses the cars used for Royal Family's official transport. The carriages used for royal representation activities, such as state visits, are kept in the coach shed.
The Riddarholmen church
The Riddarholmen Church, Stockholm
The Riddarholmen Church is the final resting place of the Swedish kings, and is Stockholm's only preserved mediaeval abbey. Alongside the mediaeval kings Magnus Ladulås and Karl Knutsson Bonde, the church is also where all Sweden's monarchs from King Gustav II Adolf to King Gustaf V – with the exception of Queen Kristina – are buried.
Since 1747, the walls of the church have been hung with the coats of arms of deceased Knights of the Order of the Seraphim, now totalling around 800 in number. When a Knight of the Seraphim dies, their coat of arms is taken down from the walls of the Apartments of the Orders of Chivalry at the Royal Palace. On the day of the funeral, no matter where in the world the funeral takes place, the coat of arms is brought in procession from the Royal Palace and is hung in the church among the shields of the previously deceased knights. At the same time, the church bell rings for an hour. This is known as a Seraphim Toll.
Solliden Palace, Borgholm, Öland
Each year, The King and Queen spend much of the summer at Solliden on Öland, together with other members of the Royal Family.
Solliden Palace was built as a summer residence for the then Crown Princess Victoria in 1906. The crown princess, who suffered from poor health, found that Öland's drier climate provided relief.
The crown princess drew inspiration from the Italian villa San Michele on Capri when the new palace was designed. The architect was Torben Grut.
Following the death of Queen Victoria, King Gustaf V assumed responsibility for Solliden and opened the palace park to the public. He bequeathed Solliden Palace to the then Heir Apparent Prince Carl (XVI) Gustaf, who now owns and manages Solliden.
Stenhammar Palace, Flen, Södermanland
The earliest reference to Stenhammar dates back to the 14th century, when it was known as Slädhammar. The first named owner was Agmund Ulfsson. Baron Johan Rosenhane (1611–1661) inherited Slädhammar and built the current palace in 1658. It was also during Rosenhane's time that the name was changed to Stenhammar. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Stenhammar was owned by the Ribbing and Falkenberg families. In 1809, Stenhammar was sold to the merchant Anders Petter Söderberg, who developed its agricultural operations.
A modern agriculture and forestry
Söderberg's daughter Maria Charlotte inherited Stenhammar, and married County Governor of Uppsala Robert Fredrik von Kræmer in 1832. Their son, Robert von Kræmer, then inherited Stenhammar in 1870. The latter became Marshal of the Court in 1892, and put significant effort into improving the estate.
Robert von Kræmer and his wife died without heirs, and left the estate to the state. The main condition in von Kræmer's will was, in brief, that Stenhammar should be leased for life to a prince of the Royal Court with succession rights to the throne. Prince Wilhelm was the first prince to meet this condition. After Prince Wilhelm's death in 1965, the then Crown Prince Carl (XVI) Gustaf took over the lease.
Today, HM The King practises modern agriculture and forestry at Stenhammar. Since the mid-2000s, extensive animal husbandry has been carried out on the estate, with organic drainage ditches and Simmental and Angus bulls for breeding. In order to succeed with the breeding work and to ensure scientific monitoring of the results, the estate works closely with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala.
Environmentally certified forestry and crop cultivation also take place at Stenhammar.
Visit the Royal Palaces
Ten Royal Palaces with museums, chapels, parks, gift shops, cafes and Royal Stables. Four centuries of art and history. Click on the sites for opening hours and tickets.