Monday, 17 October 2016

The Royal Brides of Sweden

Silvia, Victoria and Sofia of Sweden at the official opening of an exhibition of their royal wedding dresses in Stockholm

Three of Sweden's modern royal brides gathered at the Royal Palace in Stockholm today to relive their wedding days. Queen Silvia opened an exhibition of the dresses worn by the women of the reign of King Carl XVI Gustaf for their marriages and at her side were two of the most famous royal brides of the past decade, Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Sofia. The royal brides of Sweden were surrounded by memories and they looked rather pleased indeed.

The wedding dress exhibition has been months in the making and finally opens its doors to the public tomorrow, October 18th, running until March 12th 2017. Those five months will give thousands of visitors the chance to see the wedding dresses worn by Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Sofia, Princess Madeleine and Princess Lilian of Sweden.

The exhibition is being held to mark the 40th anniversary this year of the marriage of Silvia Sommerlath to King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden. That wedding, on June 19th 1976, turned a German born translator into the Queen of Sweden and paved the way for one of the most eagerly anticipated marriages in modern royal history as Carl Gustaf's uncle, Prince Bertil, finally got to say 'I do' to the woman he had loved for decades but had been prevented by royal rules from making his wife - Lilian Craig. It also began a dynasty that would lead to the three other weddings celebrated in this landmark exhibition.

Visitors don't just get to marvel at these five famous and fabulous creations. Also on display are the shoes worn by the brides, the outfits used by their attendants and recreations of the flowers they used as well as the dresses chosen by Victoria and her sister, Madeleine, for the big galas before their weddings.
The famous lace veil used by Queen Silvia and Crown Princess Victoria which has passed through several generations of royal brides from its original owner, Queen Sophia of Sweden.  There are also reminders of Swedish royal wedding traditions including the wearing of a sprig of myrtle by regal brides.

Queen Silvia made reference to that tradition in her speech opening the exhibition when she said that as she planned her marriage to Carl Gustaf she was telephoned by his aunt, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, who asked her to visit Copenhagen to receive a special wedding present. The gift was a sprig of myrtle, taken from a plant brought to Sweden from England by Princess Margaret of Connaught who married Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden and who was Ingrid's mother and Carl Gustaf's grandmother.

Queen Silvia told her audience that the exhibition was a reminder about how weddings 'tie together families, history' and this display of dresses shows clearly the dual nature of a regal marriage - these are personal moments caught forever in the spotlight of royal destiny. The gowns remain beautiful, the love stories behind them stay famous and along with the treasured family moments they wind together to create history in the making. This is an exhibition to remember.

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