Monday 26 December 2022

King Carl Gustaf of Sweden's 2022 Christmas Speech (English Translation)

Photo: Sven-Åke Visén, SVT

(Translation by Gert's Royals. [Notes added by Gert's Royals are in brackets])

Dear Swedes, at home and abroad, and everyone in Sweden

From the Stockholm Royal Palace to Ukraine is only a hundred miles as the crow flies.

Christmas is also celebrated there. But for many who live there, it is dark, cold and difficult. Parts of society's infrastructure are knocked out. People have been killed, injured and subjected to terrible suffering.

The first time I was in Ukraine, it was still part of the Soviet Union. The Queen and I then visited Saint Sophia Cathedral, in Kyiv, where the Swedish Princess Ingegerd is buried.

Ingegerd was the daughter of the Swedish King Olof Skötkonung in Sigtuna. She was married off to Grand Duke Yaroslav of Kyiv in 1019, and was later known as Saint Anna. She became a historical figure and is still today a link between our countries.

During a later visit to Ukraine, a state visit in 2008, we traveled to Gammalsvenskby, a small community in the southern part of the country.

Ever since the 18th century, the village has been home to Swedish descendants with roots from the then Swedish Dagö, in present-day Estonia. Through the centuries, they have endured severe trials: wars and forced displacements. Nevertheless, they have managed to preserve their Swedish traditions.

[Dagö is the Swedish name of the island Hiiumaa in Estonia. Estonia was under Sweden's rule from 1561–1710. In 1780-1781, under Russian rule, Swedish farmers were deported from Dagö/Hiiumaa, Estonia to Gammalsvenskby, Ukraine.]

In the [Gammalsvenskby] village church, we were greeted by a choir singing hymns in ancient Swedish, with texts and melodies that have been passed down from generation to generation. It is a strong memory, which I have carried with me ever since.

The Russian aggression against Ukraine has hit the village hard. The road I inaugurated at the state visit has been destroyed. Electricity, water and fuel are in short supply.

It's hard to think about this. Therefore, today I want to send a special greeting to the residents of Gammalsvenskby:

My thoughts and those of my family are with you - and with all your fellow countrymen.

Before us now lies 2023. A special year, in more ways than one.

We are facing significant challenges as a country. This will affect many, especially those with limited income. And it will make demands on all of us. As citizens, and as fellow human beings.

At New Year, Sweden takes over the presidency of the EU's Council of Ministers. An important and responsible task for our country.

Next year is also an anniversary year: On June 6, it will be 500 years since Gustav Vasa was elected king. And in September, I myself have had the privilege of being Sweden's head of state for 50 years. Yes, that's a long time!

On the occasion of the anniversary, the Queen and I will visit all of Sweden's counties. After almost half a century of traveling to different parts of our country, I know that each county has its own character, nature and history. It is a rich diversity, where each part contributes to building a whole. We look forward to these visits, and to meeting all of you, young and old, around the country. 

My hope is that many of you will participate. Because this anniversary is about Sweden. About Sweden through the time.

Ever since I was a child playing with model trains, I have been fascinated by technological inventions and advances. It has always been natural for me to look ahead, towards the horizon.

During the 500 years that have passed since Gustav Vasa became king, our country has had an absolutely outstanding development. And during the half century that I have been king, I have often been filled with pride when I have seen how Swedish ideas and innovations make life better for many people. Both here in Sweden and out in the world, where Swedish products often have a good reputation.

This positive development and progress is part of what we celebrate in 2023.

But, an anniversary can also be a good opportunity for reflection and gratitude.

The fields we harvest. The forests we build our houses from. The trees we get our Christmas apples from. For generations, people have planted and sown, taken care of forests and land - and passed it on to us to manage.

In the same way, you can look at art, language, architecture. The technological and medical development. Everything that we can achieve today – perhaps even take for granted – is based on a foundation laid by others.

Today, on the morning of Christmas Day, Julotta was celebrated in hundreds of Swedish churches. The hymns sung there have been sung by many before us. They are part of our history and cultural heritage. Of what binds us together and which belongs to everyone in Sweden.

[Julotta is the name of the early morning Christmas Service that is traditionally held before dawn. ]

I therefore choose to end this Christmas greeting with a few lines from "Härlig är jorden" - a hymn that was sung during our visit to Gammalsvenskby, and which I myself like very much. It is often sung at funerals, but also at Christmas time, and it has a safe and comforting message.

”Tidevarv komma, 

tidevarv försvinna, 

släkten följa släktens gång. 

Aldrig förstummas 

tonen från himlen 

i själens glada pilgrimssång.”


"Eras come 

and Eras go,

one generation follows another.

Music sounds, 

unceasing, from Heaven,

the happy songs of souls on their pilgrimage."

Regardless of how you celebrate your Christmas, I hope it can give you a moment of peace and quiet and reflection. And that you can fast on what gives you joy and hope.

Let's all give a thought to those who need it most, and take care of each other - this Christmas and in the year to come.

Together with my family, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2023!

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