Ladies and Gentlemen,
An important part of a nation's culture is its traditions. One of the more well-known Swedish traditions is, no doubt, the way a formal dinner is structured with speeches and other ceremonies.
Although this is not supposed to be a very formal evening I am going to use one of my privileges as a host, that is to welcome you all to this table and to the Royal Palace of Stockholm.
I personally feel that the Palace is one of the major centers for Swedish culture. During its almost three hundred years of existence it has always been a place where new ideas, methods and so called trends have been tested and developed. The collections, which I hope you will have a chance to have a glimpse of this evening, represent the best of what Europe has had to offer during the past thousand years. In the past the influences from the Palace and the Court were of great importance in the shaping of what we today call the Swedish cultural heritage.
I am indeed proud of the collections in this Palace as well as in the other nine Royal Palaces around Stockholm. I am proud on behalf of my predecessors but also on behalf of the Swedish people, because the treasures belong to all of us.
The year of 1998 is most important for Stockholm and for Sweden. As the Cultural Capital of Europe our city will have a very special opportunity to be in focus and to expose our rich cultural heritage which has its roots far back in history but is constantly developing with time and new influences. From within and from abroad.
The Queen and I are pleased to be able to welcome you tonight. You have just had a taste of what Sweden can offer in music, actually one of our major export products right now. Another aspect of culture is the art of cooking. Also in this area our country has managed to fly its colours high.
So with this combination, of music and food, enframed by the treasures of the Royal Palace and of course by a large number of great artists and other representatives of the cultural life of Sweden today, we hope that this evening will be pleasant.
Let me now, finally, as the Patron of Stockholm, the Cultural Capital of Europe 1998, propose a toast.
Skål and welcome!