A Swedish social media campaign calling for the country's royal family to use vacant palaces to house refugees fleeing conflicts in their home nations hasn't got the result that campaigners were hoping for.
“No, it is not happening,” Director of Information and Press for Sweden's Royal Court Margareta Thorgren told The Local on Wednesday.
“We have had a lot of questions mostly on social media. It is positive that people are engaged with these questions and thinking creatively how we can help out (…) But Stockholm's palace is one of Sweden's most attractive tourist destinations,” she said.
“It is a museum and it is open for the public and then also it is an office for a lot of people including myself (…) It is not an empty castle that can take in refugees.”
Her comments came despite a headline in leading Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter which read “Court opens for asylum accommodation”.
Queen Silvia and King Carl XVI Gustaf snapped earlier this year. Photo: Kicki Nilsson/TT
Thorgren told The Local that the newspaper had exaggerated her message, but confirmed that her quotes suggesting that King Carl XVI Gustaf was open to hearing “other creative suggestions” were correct.
“The whole royal family they are of course following the news about the refugees and the situation in Europe and obviously in Sweden (…) they think it is positive that people are engaged with these questions and thinking creatively how we can help out,” she told The Local.
She explained that the Swedish government formally owned most of the buildings used by the royal family and said that the country's national property board (Statens fastighetsverk) would need to play a key role in any future discussions about how they might be used or adapted.
The royal family's involvement in the refugee crisis comes as Sweden is struggling to find enough beds for the record numbers of people arriving in the Scandinavian nation. Ski resorts, holiday parks, theatres and sports halls are among the buildings already being used to house some of those seeking asylum, with tent accommodation scheduled to open later this month.
Sweden, with a population of 9.8 million, expects to receive up to 190,000 asylum applications this year – putting it among the EU states with the highest proportion of refugees per capita.