On March 28, the King of Sweden welcomed four new ambassadors during formal audiences held at the Royal Palace.
This time-honoured event showcases Sweden’s unique ceremonial traditions, which date back to the 16th century.
In this article, we’ll explore the origins and significance of these customs, as well as the details of the recent ambassadors’ reception.
The Ambassadors and Their Countries
The King received the following foreign envoys in solemn audiences:
1. Arunrung Phothong Humphreys, Ambassador of Thailand
2. Julio Murat, Nuncio of the Holy See
3. Doris Danler, Austrian Ambassador
4. Aden Mohamed Dileita, Ambassador of Djibouti
Although the ambassadors from Thailand, the Holy See, and Djibouti had been accredited earlier this year, the formal audience provided an opportunity for them to meet the King in person.
Royal Orders and Attire
As a mark of respect, the King wore specific decorations for each ambassador.
For the Thai ambassador, he donned the Royal Thai Order of the Rajamintrabhorn.
He wore the Pontifical Order of Pius with a chain for the nuncio of the Holy See, and the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Austria for the Austrian ambassador.
The Ceremonial Process of Solemn Audiences
When a foreign ambassador arrives in Sweden as a new envoy, they must submit their letters of credit to the King in order to officially serve as an ambassador.
The handing over of these letters occurs at a formal audience, held approximately once a month with typically four new ambassadors per session.
These ceremonial traditions date back to the reign of King Johan III in the late 16th century.
Only after the letters of credit have been submitted can the ambassador formally assumes their position and begin working in Sweden.
The Arrival of the Ambassadors
Before the solemn audiences, the incoming ambassadors assemble at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
They are then escorted by the Hovstallet in a procession to the Royal Palace, travelling in Charles XV’s parade coupe, drawn by a team of four horses.
Upon arrival at the Royal Palace, muffled drums sound, followed by the ambassador’s signal played on a trumpet.
The ambassador and their entourage, accompanied by music from the Army’s band, proceed through the palace to meet the King.
Meeting the King and the Ceremony
During the formal audience, the ambassador hands over their letter of credit, as well as a rappel letter, confirming the departure of the outgoing ambassador.
The King also signs the Swedish ambassadors’ letters of credit.
The introducer presents the ambassador to the King, and a private audience takes place in the East Octagonal Cabinet.
Following the audience, which lasts about twenty minutes, the ambassador departs the palace with a salute from parading soldiers.
The next ambassador arrives shortly afterwards.
Sweden is one of the few countries that maintain these elaborate traditions for solemn audiences, complete with horse corteges and processions.
The recent reception of four new ambassadors showcases the enduring importance of these centuries-old customs, which continue to define the diplomatic landscape in Sweden.
Image: Lisa Raihle Rehbäck/Kungl