This week, as it happens! The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are paying their first official visit to Sweden on 22-24 March.
It’s part of a week-long Nordic tour, embracing Norway and Denmark.
Here in Stockholm, they arrive on Thursday at lunchtime and are greeted at Arlanda by Prince Carl Philip. There they also meet Swedish air force personnel and inspect a Gripen plane, as well as meeting representatives of its maker, Saab, and of the UK company, Selex Galileo, which makes some of its high-tech equipment systems.
I see this engagement as an opportunity to thank Sweden for the important role it played in the NATO-led Libya operation and to mark UK-Sweden defence industrial co-operation.
Their Royal Highnesses, accompanied by the Queen and Prime Minister Reinfeldt, then visit Fryshuset, to meet and talk to young people and to the centre’s leaders about the great work it does in tackling gang violence and other social problems and in promoting integration, all themes close to the heart of the British and Swedish governments and Royal Families.
My wife and I are hosting a reception that evening, for the Prince and Duchess to meet members of the UK community in Sweden, particularly those involved in community service and volunteering, which are themes of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
On Friday, Queen Silvia and the Duchess visit the British International Primary School and a Swedish pre-school. The King and Prince Charles visit the Stockholm Resilience Centre, to discuss climate change and the challenges facing the planet, and then they go to St Erik’s housing development to see a leading example of community-centric urban architecture. Both of these themes, the global environment and the built environment, are of course dear to Prince Charles’ heart. As is renewable energy, and I will be hosting a meeting for him to meet leading Swedish players in the biomass sector.
On Saturday, Their Majesties accompany Their Royal Highnesses to the Vasa, without which no trip to Stockholm would be complete! There will be a brief walkabout near the Vasa Museum, around 11.00 on Saturday, which would be the best occasion to catch a glimpse of our Royal visitors. They complete their 48 hours in Sweden with a visit to Saltå Kvarn to see an organically based mill and bakery in operation.
The themes the visit covers reflect the challenges of modern societies – sustainable growth, energy and agriculture, education, international security and integration – that the UK and Sweden are tackling together.