Regal romance: exploring Stockholm’s Royal Palace through the lens of love
Long celebrated as an icon by the lesbian community, Sweden’s 17th-century Queen Kristina – who was an occasional cross-dresser and enjoyed affairs with noblewoman Ebba Sparre amongst others – is shrouded in legend. Her silver throne, still displayed in the castle’s Hall of State, is one of the palace’s most storied objects!
But with the ‘Kungliga Slottet’ being home to an astonishing 600 rooms (yes, that’s two zeros!), the Hall of State isn’t the only space loaded with romantic reminders of yesteryear’s love stories (some more successful than others…). Treating your other half to daytime date? Follow our lovers’ guide to the Royal Palace and fall head over heels with its blue-blooded history.
Revisit a marriage that shouldn’t have been
Sweden’s troubled 18th-century King Gustav III has quite the legacy. His marriage to Denmark’s Sophia Magdalena was a political one that saw two completely different people tie the knot in the castle church in 1766 – the first wedding ceremony to take place here. Though it wasn’t ‘happily-ever-after’, the odd pair did know how to live the sweet life, attending the opera and throwing extravagant masquerade balls at the Slottet.
Visit the State Bedchamber, the Royal Chapel and the Royal Armoury to retrace the King and his Queen’s loaded love life: their opulent wedding attire on display in the armoury alone would be worth a visit, but don’t stop there… Continue your lovers’ trip around the castle and watch the story of Gustav’s III unfold in front of you – including a tragic ending to love and life that made him one of Sweden’s most fabled monarchs!
Despite his troubled existence, Gustav III was a great lover of the arts, bestowing upon the Swedish people one of Europe’s oldest museums in the form of Gustav III’s Museum of Antiquities. A true highlight for any visitor to the Kungliga Slottet, most of the collection was acquired by the King himself on a journey through Italy in the late 18th century. A particular piece within it, beautifully framed by other works, casts a regular spell on museum visitors:
It’s a sculpture depicting the sleeping Endymion, a youthful herdsman in ancient Greece, looking positively charming and easy to fall in love with, to this day. Legend has it the handsome shepherd had a habit of sleeping under the stars, much to the admiration of the Moon Goddess Selene. Passionately infatuated, Selene would descend from the skies to spend the nights with Endymion, who eventually fell into an eternal sleep at the hand of Zeus. Find the Greek beau snoozing away at the far end of the museum – and try not to wake him up!
The last stop on a romance-driven visit to the Royal Palace should no doubt be the opulent Royal Apartments and the castle’s ballroom, where a very special four-course wedding dinner was served a few years ago; and this time, it was for a happy couple!
When Prince Carl Philip and former model Sofia Hellqvist tied the knot in the castle church on 13 June 2015, all of Sweden watched the historic moment on television – and many welcomed the couple’s modern song choices, from tunes by Rihanna and Coldplay amongst others. Though it was the party after the ceremony that went down in royal history… To see where Sweden’s first family and their famous friends danced the night away, visit Karl XI’s gallery, the Palace’s answer to Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors! And don’t forget to raise a glass to the happy couple and enjoy a fika in the courtyard, where Stockholm’s prettiest café opens in the summer – the way to someone’s heart does go through their stomach, right?
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