Wednesday 25 December 2019

King Carl Gustaf of Sweden - 2019 Christmas Speech (English Translation)

[Notes by Gert's Royals are in italics]

Dear people of Sweden, both at home and abroad, and everyone in Sweden!

The day before yesterday, the day before Christmas Eve, I had the joy of gathering my children and grandchildren at Drottningholm Palace to celebrate the Queen's birthday. This is how Christmas begins in our family.

For most people in our country, Christmas is a special holiday, surrounded by traditions. No matter what your Christmas weekend looks like or where you spend it, I hope it gives you time for reflection.

In just a few days, the bells ring in for a new year and a new decade. 2020 is still a blank slate.

We know that we will face challenges. Both here in Sweden, in our region and globally.

We see how crimes of various kinds create insecurity in our society. Explosions and shootings cause public concern - a concern shared by me and my family.

In our world, the security situation is changing rapidly. In the coming year, Total Defense Exercise 2020  [Totalförsvarsövning 2020] will be implemented - the largest exercise in 30 years of Sweden's civil and military preparedness.

The climate continues to change, which presents us with completely new situations. The past decade seems to be the hottest since we started measuring.

Here in Sweden, dry and warm weather has favored the spruce bark drill; a small beetle, which has done great damage to our spruce forests. In a changing climate, the risk of attack will increase.

Heat waves and floods that previously occurred perhaps once per century, are now beginning to occur regularly, with serious consequences for food and water supply, among others. This applies particularly to the poorer parts of the world.

So it is for example in India, where the Queen and I recently completed a state visit. The country is severely exposed to drought and air pollution. During the visit, we learned how they are working to find new solutions - including in collaboration with Sweden and Swedish companies.

Something that I personally enjoyed was that parts of the India trip followed the footsteps of my ancestors: During the 1910s and 1920s, both my grandfather Gustaf Adolf and his brother Prince Vilhelm made long trips in this fascinating country.

Perhaps it is inevitable that news reports are characterized by what is negative and dramatic. At the same time, there are strong reasons to feel hope and faith in the future. I would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of these reasons.

During the past year, my family and I have met with police, customs officials and other representatives of the judiciary. I also had the privilege of visiting the Swedish UN force in Mali. There are people who work hard for the safety and security of others. Sometimes under very demanding conditions. Their sense of duty is an invaluable asset to our country.

Another positive force is research, which drives development forward. This may apply to new treatment methods for severe diseases. New ways to reduce the impact on the environment and climate. Or effective poverty reduction - which, incidentally, was the topic of this year's economic prize in memory of Alfred Nobel. [King Carl Gustaf presents the Nobel Prizes each year, with the exception of the Peace Prize.]

Every day, new discoveries are made, which give us the keys to a healthier and more sustainable future.

Let me also say something about Swedish children and young people and all who work with them. I am convinced that every human being needs to be seen. If you don't, you might do what you can to be seen instead.

It is as Hjalmar Söderberg put it in Dr. Glass:
"One wants to be loved, in lack thereof admired, in lack thereof feared, in lack thereof loathed and despised. One wants to instill some sort of emotion in people. The soul trembles before emptiness and desires contact at any price." 
[Hjalmar Söderberg is a Swedish Writer, and Dr. Glass is one of his most famous works.]

That is why it is so important that there are those who work to bridge the "void". I think of all of the teachers and leaders that help children and young people to find their place in life - to believe in themselves and their ability. Your efforts are crucial to Sweden's future.

Finally, I would also like to send a special greeting to all of you who work today and during the weekends. You are in hospitals and police stations. In the armed forces, elderly care, and public transport - and in many other workplaces. You make sure that our society works even when others are not working. To you, I want to say: thank you!

Earlier this year I made a decision to define what is called the royal house. [The King is referring to the announcement that Prince Carl Philip & Princess Madeleine's children are no longer HRH or members of the Royal House.] The decision was to make clear who within the royal family will act as official representatives of Sweden in the future. For me, this is a way of clarifying what expectations are.

It will hopefully be helpful when my grandchildren eventually carve out their own future. But, to that day, it is far away.

Now the Queen and I are looking forward to spending time with the family. We now have seven small grandchildren between one and seven years. It is not always so peaceful and quiet, but very funny!

With this, I wish everyone in our country a continued Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year - and strong faith in the future!

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