Sunday, 9 October 2016

Swedish State Visit to Germany, the end

King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia hear about the work of Martin Luther on their final day in Germany

The Swedish State Visit to Germany came to an end with a day all about learning how the past influences the present and the years yet to come. King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia visited Wittenberg and Leipzig where their engagements covered some of the most radical events in modern European history and took in ideas that changed the continent forever. As they ended their visit, they were looking to the future.

The last day of this State Visit began in Wittenberg, famous around the world as the place where Martin Luther began the Reformation. Next year marks the 500th anniversary of the day that Luther pinned his 95 theses to the main gate of the Castle Church and a year of events marking that moment in modern history gets under way on October 31st 2016. King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia's visit was a part of that.

The royal couple visited the Castle Church on their arrival in Wittenberg before heading to the nearby park where King Carl XVU Gustaf planted a tree - one of 500 being planted to mark the half millennium since Luther began the Reformation.  This royal contribution joins plants from around the world, rooted into the soil to show different religions from across the globe coming together in the 21st century.

Then it was time for a walking tour of Wittenberg with the royal guests being taken to the parts most closely associated with the Reformation. They visited the house of Lucas Cranach the Elder, the painter who worked with Luther using art to spread his friend's ideas.

They also saw the Martin Luther statue and the Stadtkirche St Marien where he preached and which houses work by Cranach. And another Swedish king whose name was Gustav has strong links to the church. King Gustaf II Adolf, regarded as one of the great Swedish monarchs, was brought to the Stadtkirche St Marien after his death at the Battle of Lutzen in 1632.

The afternoon of the final day saw Carl Gustaf and Silvia travel to Leipzig, the city where Luther's German translation of the Bible was put on sale in 1522. But before they could take in more history, there were a few State Visit staples to get through including a visit to the Town Hall and a lunch offered by the local mayor.

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden looking to the future in Leipzig

The King of Sweden spent the afternoon hearing about the latest developments in another way of thinking that revolutionsed Europe. He attended a seminar on evolutionary anthropology and heard about work on DNA and the study of the Neanderthals.

Queen Silvia attended a seminar with her World Childhood Foundation. The event, which included a speech by Silvia, was focused on providing protection and support to children who are in danger and to helping the judicial process handle cases efficiently and with care to offer more help to more young people.

The final stop of the State Visit saw the royal couple go back to a more recent past as they headed to the St Nicholas' Church in Leipzig. The church was the centre of peaceful protests against the East German regime in October 1989 - just weeks later, the Berlin Wall fell and the process of reunification began.  This royal visit came just a day before the anniversary of those protests, October 9th.


King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia gave one final press conference before heading home to Sweden. This State Visit, the second of their reign, has been a big success with much of the focus on Queen Silvia and her work with children. They have clearly enjoyed #SweDE2016 - one more chapter in what has been a hugely happy year for this royal family.

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