In just a few short days Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling will finally say ”I do”.
Friend or foe of the Royal Wedding, there is no way of missing that something big is about to take place in Stockholm. From celebrations in the city centre to buildings decorated with banners and portraits of the Crown Princess Couple – wedding fever has hit the Swedish capital.
Though interest for hotel rooms in the city has not meet previous expectations, some 200,000 people are expected to line the streets on June 19 and according to the Swedish Trade Federation the event could bring up to 2.5 billion kronor in extra revenue.
The Royal Wedding will be the grand finale to months of intense media coverage, speculation, PR and marketing campaigns – and debates about the monarchy. The 19th of June will also be the culmination of months of preparation, and coordination, by thousands of participants.
The main organizer of all this, the Swedish Royal Court, has pumped resources and thousands of man hours into planning the wedding and the other events leading up to it.
Under the leadership of wedding coordinator Håkan Pettersson, the entire organization has been involved. Everyone from the Royal Family’s household offices, to the press and information department, to the Royal Mews and the Ceremonial Household have been busy getting ready for the big day. The Royal Collections have also occupied with getting the Royal Palace into tip-top shape. No detail is too minute.
“The Palace is like an anthill – so many people are busy doing everything from laying the tables to preparing the flowers,” is how Palace spokeswoman Nina Eldh put it on Thursday.
Helping the Royal Court with many of the practicalities surrounding the Royal Wedding have been Sweden’s government offices, in particular the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Ministry will be helping the some 2,300 accredited journalists who will be covering the event, of which 700 are foreign.
The City of Stockholm, Sweden’s military forces as well as the police are also very involved. Medical teams, both for wedding guests and onlookers on the streets, will also be in place. It is a giant undertaking not seen since King Carl XVI Gustaf married Silvia Renate Sommerlath in 1976. The total cost of the Royal Wedding is estimated to be some 20 million Swedish Kronor, approximately $2.5 million. The Swedish Government will be picking up half the tab, while the remaining sum will be paid by the King.
The planning of the Royal Wedding has also involved, and benefited, many private companies. Amongst others an agency was brought in to create a visual profile for the Royal Wedding. The purpose was to give the event a unified look. This visual profile also inspired the official products currently on sale. Merchandise from the official Royal Wedding series, which benefits the Crown Princess Couple’s new foundation, can be seen all around the country. More than 15 companies have produced products ranging from cakes to porcelain, to glass and chocolate.
The Crown Princess Couple’s Foundation, which according to the Royal Court aims at promoting “good health and combat exclusion among children and young people in Sweden”, will receive a percentage of the income from the merchandise sold. There is also the involvement of the many purveyors to the Royal Wedding offering their services for the wedding banquet.
The Royal Wedding is a unique occasion: first, it is an official function and a matter of state. It is after all Sweden’s future head of state walking down the aisle. Secondly it is an intimate affair between two people about to start a new life together. Last, but not least, it is also a celebration for the people to take part in and enjoy.
Since the last Stockholm Water Festival in 1999 there have been few occasions for people to gather in the streets and celebrate. Together with Love Stockholm, the Royal Wedding is an opportunity for Stockholmers and tourists alike, young or old, royalist or republican, to go out and have a good time in the spirit of fun, love and community.
Even Sweden’s republicans are joining in on the festivities, albeit in their own way. The Swedish Republican Association is arranging an alternative for those who are opposed to the monarchy but still want to celebrate the theme of love on June 19th. They are calling their event “Love Republic”. The palace has taken the republican challenge in its stride, with Nina Eldh saying:
“It has generated interest in history, and nourished a discussion on the monarchy and constitution, which is good in a democracy.”
Yet the hope and expectation on Saturday will be for the festivities to strengthen the monarchy’s standing among the Swedish people – and to project a positive image of Sweden abroad.