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Thousands line Stockholm streets to cheer king

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16:45 CEST+02:00
Thousands of Swedes lined Stockholm's streets to cheer on the royal procession between the palace and the City Hall on King Carl Gustaf's 60th birthday.

At the Sergels torg roundabout sat wellwisher Bozena Malmqvist at the front in her three wheeled motorcycle.

"It was a pure coincidence. The area was cordoned off just as I arrived," she said, beaming.

When the king and queen passed in an open carriage with six horses the crowd dispersed, while the royal couple were welcomed for lunch at the City Hall.

Beforehand, the king had greeted the crowd at Lejonbacken, at the palace. The thunderous applause peaked as the birthday boy and his family came outside. The queen was in a coral coloured dress with a broad-rimmed hat and orange shawl, while Crown Princess Victoria wore a champagne coloured outfit and her sister, Princess Madeleine, wore ice blue.

"It's wonderful to stand up here. I wish that you could all stand up here with me," said the king.

Under the flags of the Norrbro bridge and at the old parliament building, more wellwishers had gathered.

They heard a choral performance from the Adolf Fredrik and Stockholm music schools, supported by the Army choir.

In the morning, many had gathered in the castle's Outer Courtyard, usually the site of the changing of the guard, to hear the drums and horns of the Navy's music corps. After a series of ceremonies, a group children rushed forward to present flowers and gifts to the king.

Birgitta Ohlsson, 67, from Södertälje, was there to support the king. She said she thought the king brought much-needed continuity to Sweden.

"It's a big day, both for the royal family and for us," she told TT.

She was there with her husband Jan-Erik, her daughter-in-law Karin and her grandchildren, Amanda, aged 7, and Jonathan, who was also celebrating his birthday, albeit only his second.

In Kungsträdgården the Republican Association handed out cake and resignation letters, where the holder could express the desire to leave the monarchy.

Hillevi Larsson, a social democrat member of parliament and chairman of the organisation, said that the whole Swedish public - including the royal family - 'needs to be free of this old, undemocratic tradition'.

As the royal procession passed them, the cheers of the crowd contrasted with the message of the association.

"It feels a little contrary," admitted Larsson.

"But at the same time, remember that this is a spectacle and a publicity stunt and a day off," she added.

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