The day stretched out ahead of us and in the company of our friends, we didn’t want to waste a single minute. So, immediately after breakfast we wasted no time and set out to the Royal Palace.
It was another glorious morning and the city was shining. I think that what I notice most about the hotel in which we are staying, is that it’s not near the water. For me, it makes all the difference.
Anyway, we head inside to buy tickets from a fun, if feisty lady in the office and asked for details of events throughout the day. Sadly, no changing of the guard today, she said, but it would be scheduled for the weekend, so our friends would be able to see it, even if we couldn’t.
Our first location was the Treasury. Now, you don’t think they are going to allow any photographs in there, do you?
So, please, dear guests (spoken in the voice of that last Russian guide we had in the Faberge Museum!) make use of the picture on the leaflet to imagine the style and beauty of the crowns and other regalia there is in that very secure room. Loved it.
Next, we visited the State Rooms. Now these proved to be rather more interesting than I expected. We started in the Throne Room.
The real interest began just around the corner, though, where a series of rooms outlined the orders of chivalry.
Now, King Carl XVI Gustaf has been bestowed with many an honour, including this somewhat familiar one: the Order of the Garter. Yes, and there at the front, looking more like a dog collar, I’m admit, is the Garter itself.
In the next room was a photograph of one of his forebears, Bertil, for whom the choice of decoration must have been quite perplexing. Just which colour would match the outfit of the day, I wonder – or maybe the outfit is chosen to complement the order he is advised to wear on that particular occasion? So much easier for a man in black, grey or navy blue, though, don’t you think?
My favourite room was the order of the Polar Star, awarded to foreigners for services to Sweden.
In here was a display of how such things are made – a surprisingly long and labour intensive process, it appears.
My eyes fell, as they do, on what I thought were a couple of Dorset buttons on the miniature set of medals in the case, but on enlarging the photograph and looking closely, they are not Dorset buttons at all, but created from ribbon. Neat! I’m sure I have a book with these in it and must look it out!
Which one would I choose? The Danish Order of the Elephant, of course!
Anyway, these rooms led through to the State Apartments. Clearly, they knew we were coming and rolled the carpet back!
Having just spent time in St Petersburg, walking through ostentatious gold rooms a plenty, these state apartments appeared rather restrained in comparison. Still, the guest rooms were lavish in size and the list of those who have stayed in them resembled a Who’s Who of world leaders.
Not all of the rooms were on a domestic scale, though!
I liked the illustrations of each room in use, too. It makes it easier to put things into proportion.
So, we’d done with the Palace tour for now and thought we’d go in search of a bite to eat in the old town. But outside, something appeared to be happening.
Could it be the Changing of the Guard, perhaps?
Well, yes, it looked like the same ceremony as we’d remembered. Who said it wasn’t happening today?
So we joined the crowd and watched and waited.
I felt thankful for my super-zoom. Are we going to take a close look at the dress standards, do you think? Of course we are! I think I might have straightened his tie if he was my boy
Because I don’t want to be overly critical or anything, but these seem to be a rum lot of soldiers, don’t you agree? Is it the gaiters that give a relaxed impression, or perhaps it’s just that the Swedish equivalent of “stand to attention” is a bit different from the interpretation I’m familiar with?
Hair on the collar? Surely not in uniform?
I noticed that beards are being worn large this year too!
As I’m observing all these little idiosyncrasies, I hear that the regiment on guard this month is a regiment of engineers. Does that explain things? I have no idea!!
Meanwhile, the chap holding the heaviest standard was struggling rather. A stiff breeze had got up and it was blowing about a bit.
He was doing his best but at times could do little more than twist the pole and hope it blew back the other way.
By this time, the guard had changed and the new team were ready to go and stand for the tourists’ photographs.
We were going to go and have some lunch.