King’s speech: hope from year of disasters

The outgoing year's natural catastrophes unsurprisingly dominated King Carl Gustaf's traditional speech on Christmas Day. But at the same time, the king pointed out that the misery and chaos was not without glimmers of hope.

“One year has passed, but we will never forget the catastrophe which happened on the other side of the world on Boxing Day and which came to affect our country so badly,” said the king.

“But my wish is that all you who find it so hard will be able to feel hope in an existence which is now unbearable, an existence which could also offer happiness and harmony.”

He also said that his Christmas greeting from last year, in light of what has happened since, now feels “empty and hollow”.

The past year did not offer the joyful and successful future which the king wished everybody. Instead it became the year of the natural disaster. In Asia the tsunami took hundreds of thousands lives, in Sweden Hurricane Gudrun swept across the south of the country, New Orleans was shattered by Hurricane Katrina and in Pakistan tens of thousands of people were killed, injured or made homeless by a devastating earthquake.

But in the midst of the despair and chaos there are still rays of hope which we should be aware of and keep hold of, noted the king.

As an example he mentioned the natural way in which people came forward to help others after the tsunami catastrophe. The Montreal negotiations over the issue of the world’s climate also give hope for the future, he said. Finally, he encouraged everybody to reach out and offer a helping hand to those in need.

“We can all, one by one, light a candle in the darkness,” said the king.