(Det talade ordet gäller)
Your Royal Highnesses,
Ladies and gentlemen.
It is a great honour for Her Majesty The Queen and me to welcome Your Majesties to Sweden.
My family and I have warm memories from Your official visit to Stockholm as Crown Prince couple in 2005, as well as from your attendance at the Crown Princess couple’s wedding in 2010. We are all delighted to welcome you back.
Let me first say what a great pleasure it is to be able to meet in person again and to bring people together, as we are doing this evening. This state visit was initially planned for September last year. However, we both agreed to postpone it due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has placed enormous pressure on our societies.
Now, held under adapted circumstances, this state visit offers a valuable opportunity to reaffirm and to celebrate, the bond between our two countries.
Her Majesty The Queen and I had the pleasure of paying a state visit to Spain in 1983 and have visited your beautiful country on several occasions since then. I remember especially a visit with the Royal Technology Mission, where we were shown some remarkable examples of Spanish engineering.
This is the second Spanish state visit that we have received. The last time was in 1979 when your parents His Majesty King Juan Carlos and Her Majesty Queen Sofia visited us, and we have looked very much forward to welcoming you.
Already in 1651, Queen Kristina sent the first Swedish envoy to Madrid set to facilitate open trade between our nations. Today – more than 350 years later – Spain and Sweden enjoy close ties in many different areas. Apart from trade there is also cooperation in science, education, and culture. The interactions between our nations are multiple and frequent. At the political level, as well as between our peoples.
Spain is the first tourist destination for Swedes and as many as 100 000 Swedes have made Spain their home base permanently or during the winter part of the year. Furthermore, Spanish is the most popular third language among Swedish pupils.
At the same time, it is very rewarding to see that many Spanish students have decided to pursue their higher education at Swedish universities.
The bond between our two countries is also reflected in the history of our families:
Your Majesty: In 1927, my great-grandfather Gustaf V travelled to Spain and visited your great-grandfather, King Alfonso XIII.
The next year King Alfonso visited Stockholm, where he acquired a beautiful villa at Royal Park Djurgården, formerly the home of King Gustaf V:s younger brother, Prince Carl. The villa has since served as the residence of the Spanish ambassador.
King Alfonso also brought with him a most magnificent gift: a large, saffron-coloured carpet with a rose pattern. It is placed in the grand living-room of Drottningholm Palace, where the Queen and I live. With its strong and beautiful colours, it reminds me every day of our long-standing friendship.
King Gustaf V also had another younger brother, Prince Eugen, who was a gifted painter. On his way to King Alfonso’s enthronement in 1902, the Prince first travelled in Andalucia together with the Swedish painter Anders Zorn. Zorn’s Spanish motifs are today among the most well known in Swedish art history. The Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla was a friend and colleague of Zorn, and in November 1991, almost exactly 30 years ago, your mother, Her Majesty Queen Sofia of Spain and Queen Silvia together inaugurated the exhibition “Zorn and Sorolla – from two seas” at Nationalmuseum, Sweden’s museum of art and design.
Your Majesty: Right now, our nations and economies face a period of recovery from the pandemic. This past summer saw extreme weather in many parts of Europe, including in Spain and Sweden. These events highlight the need to transition to more sustainable and resilient societies.
This presents us with challenges, but also with opportunities for innovation and development. The close ties between our nations and people lay the foundations for cooperation and solidarity, and for solving problems – together.
During this important visit, we will pay attention to some areas where our countries already have successful collaboration and exchange, and where there is great potential to develop further.
Your Majesties, your visit here manifests the close bond between our countries. It also lays the ground for further cooperation and progress.
Once again, it is my great pleasure to extend to you a very warm welcome to Sweden and to this evening’s dinner at the Royal Palace in Stockholm.
To Your Majesties,
to the continued friendship between our two Houses,
and to the happiness and prosperity of the people of Spain,
I now propose a toast!