By Curator Kerstin Hagsgård, the Royal Collections
When King Carl XVI Gustaf celebrates 40 years on the throne in 2013, he will become only the second Swedish monarch since the Middle Ages to reach such a milestone. Until now, only King Gustaf V (1907-1950) has reigned longer.
On 5-6 February 1843, King Karl XIV Johan celebrated 25 years on the throne. The commemorations began with Te Deum thanksgiving services at the nation's churches and congratulatory tributes. A gala performance was also held at the Royal Swedish Opera House. The real highlight, however, was the bourgeoisie ball at the Stock Exchange.
The festivities began with the royal family — in two carriages, surrounded by torch-bearers — riding in a cortège past Slottsbacken, Mynttorget and Storkyrkobrinken, before arriving at the Stock Exchange building on Stortorget in Stockholm's old town, Gamla Stan. They were received by the Governor of Stockholm, Count Mauritz Axel Lewenhaupt, and nine hosts including Mayor Nils Sandblad, Master Brewer A J Lychou and Master Tailor C F Spångberg.
Supper was served at midnight, and the royal family left the ball at half past one in the morning. The king, who had arrived in Sweden as the newly appointed crown prince from France 33 years previously, was very much taken by the congratulations and the warmth with which he was met. Touched and delighted, he said to the French ambassador: "When I had to leave the bourgeoisie ball at the Stock Exchange, I would rather have died."
A number of other events formed part of the jubilee celebrations. A gathering of artists took place in Stockholm in June, culminating in a major art exhibition and attracting participants from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. The king welcomed the delegates at Logården, the Royal Palace of Stockholm's own garden, and invited them to a gala dinner.
A few weeks later, the jubilee continued with the Fourth General International Press Congress. The congress was held at Riddarhuset in Stockholm, where the king gave a well-received speech in French to the assembled international journalists.
However, the biggest and most noteworthy aspect of the jubilee was the General Art and Industrial Exposition of Stockholm, held on Djurgården, which began on 15 May. The exhibition was opened by the king, and some of the earliest Swedish film recordings are from this event. The exhibition was declared a great success by both Swedish and international visitors.
His 25th jubilee in 1932 was commemorated with a private hunt on Drottningholm. The Kreuger Crash and the ensuing financial collapse of the same year no doubt contributed to the low-key nature of the jubilee. King Gustaf V's 30th jubilee was also marked by little in the way of pomp and ceremony.
On the day of the jubilee in 1937, the newspaper Social-Demokraten wrote:
As King Gustaf celebrates the thirtieth year of his monarchy today, he can rejoice in the fact that he is personally held in high esteem by all sections of the population, and that he is the figurehead of a state, the internal conditions of which — under his reign — are showing a real improvement in all respects, and which is therefore among the most favoured nations in this declining, chaotic world in which we live.
When King Gustaf V reached 40 years as monarch in 1947, he was a much loved and esteemed ruler whose people would have paid great homage to him. However, his grandson and heir to the throne Prince Gustaf Adolf died tragically that same year. This — combined with his weakening health — meant that once again the celebrations were of a modest nature.
"In the Cabinet Meeting Room at the Royal Palace of Stockholm, The King — surrounded by his family — receives the Government's congratulations from Prime Minister Erlander. The King, who coped with a strenuous day with an uncommon stature and radiant vigour, is seen here immediately surrounded by The Crown Princess and Princess Sibylla with heir to the throne Prince Carl Gustaf, who has here experienced the first of the thousands of official ceremonies that await him in future. Behind The King are The Crown Prince and Prince Bertil, with Princess Ingeborg and Princess Margaretha of Denmark at the far ends."