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Random woman attends Swedish ministerial meal

The Local · 25 Apr 2012, 10:38

Published: 25 Apr 2012 10:38 GMT+02:00

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“I received an invitation; it had my name and my address on it. I didn’t really think too much about it,” said Margareta Winberg, 67, from the Stockholm suburb of Sundbyberg to The Local.

The invitation was supposed to have gone to ex-agricultural minister, ex-deputy prime minister and former ambassador to Brazil, Margareta Winberg, 64, who was to attend a dinner at the opening of a major environment conference hosted by current environment minister Lena Ek.

Instead, the official invite went to another Winberg altogether.

Rather than having worked for the Swedish government, the Winberg who received the invite used to work as occupational therapy assistant in the Stockholm district of Solna before she retired.

When she received the invitation, Winberg thought that perhaps it had something to do with her previous employment.

“But I didn’t think too much about it nor did I know much about the dinner. Just that I was invited and that it was ‘about the environment’,” said Winberg.

On the set date, Winberg got herself glammed up and duly presented herself at Sweden's official government office complex at Rosenbad.

When she turned up at the door, the organizers and minister Ek quickly understood that there had been a mix-up.

Instead of ex-minister Winberg, it was ex-occupational therapy assistant Winberg who stood before them.

However, they soon regained their composure.

“When Lena realized the mistake she did everything she could so that the lady wouldn’t feel uncomfortable," said Erik Bratthall, press spokesperson for Ek, to daily Aftonbladet.

Despite the discovery of the gaffe, retiree Winberg was escorted to “her” seat and introduced to everyone with an explanation of what had happened.

“I was allowed to take part anyway. The food was nice and there were a lot of people talking and talking,” Winberg said.

Bratthall told Dagens Nyheter (DN) that Ek thought the whole thing was “a great laugh” and that no harm had been done.

Nor were organizers too concerned about the potential security threat that presented by having an unintended guest attend an official government event.

“The Rosenbad guards can handle retired ladies,” Bratthall said.

According to DN, the “real” Margareta Winberg has since received an apology from Lena Ek and is taking the whole incident cheerfully.

“I hope my namesake had a lovely dinner. She has never attended a government dinner, and I have,” she told the paper.

Story continues below…

The involuntary dinner-crasher Winberg said she really didn’t feel awkward taking part in the meal despite the obvious mix-up.

“I just took it for what it was; a mistake, as did the others. I had a great time and listened carefully to all the speakers,” she said.

The best part of the experience was the speeches, according to Winberg. Her husband had been disappointed he was not invited, but when she retuned home her "head was tired".

“But it was great altogether,” she told The Local.

Rebecca Martin

Follow Rebecca on Twitter here.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:29 April 25, 2012 by Terri85
11:37 April 25, 2012 by njkkhatri
Interesting mix-up !
11:43 April 25, 2012 by Dr. Dillner
It was nice of the functionaries to let the old lady stay and eat.
11:44 April 25, 2012 by axiom
best thing i've read on the news in a while

quite funny :D
11:45 April 25, 2012 by Keith #5083
Ttally brill. And that she was allowed to stay. Fantastic. Mind you, I'm the same age and can't even get an invite to a burger bar! Now that comment should wake up Svensksmith!
12:04 April 25, 2012 by gabeltoon
At least an ordinary member of the public was considered worthy of attending a government function as it should be. It is the public who vote the members of government to look after the country so they SHOULD be included. I'm glad the lady had a great time. "GOOD on YA" as they say. : ) : )
12:10 April 25, 2012 by gpafledthis
When the "handlers" get to purgatory they must mention this for"good time"
13:01 April 25, 2012 by Rishonim
hahahaha.. great story.....
15:39 April 25, 2012 by Svensksmith
Keith, you're officially invited to my house for burgers and beer.
20:43 April 25, 2012 by foxpur
Thing is, she *LISTENED* to all the speakers and gave them each thought... That's got to be a first for that kind of event. Probable had better input than the other who went.
21:39 April 25, 2012 by dizzymoe33
Lovely story. I am glad they let her stay and enjoy the evening.
23:14 April 25, 2012 by Skipdallas
Did she get the Tee-Shirt too? :-) Actually I think this is a great story! This gaffe was handled with great aplomb by everyone concerned.
00:43 April 27, 2012 by DAVID T
Why must they have a dinner? The taxpayer pays for this
11:57 April 27, 2012 by OUIJA
Good for the lady, but bad for the organizers and Ek's private secretary and head of her press staff that they cannot check properly who has worked in the past within the government. They must have looked at Eniro or Hitta. Those are the bureaucrats within the Swedish government.

The story is funny and good for the Margareta Winberg's homólogous for enjoying her visit.
15:24 April 27, 2012 by PerKurowski
And what a great environment Lena Ek offered. Well done!
19:25 April 27, 2012 by Benzed
Well played by all concerned, mildy surprised she wasn't manhandled out of the venue by some burly security.
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