This year's Christmas speech was recorded in Prince Bertil's apartment at the Royal Palace of Stockholm. Here is my translation of the speech, and a picture from the Royal Court:
Dear Swedes, at home and abroad
I feel great joy when I in this way, once again have the possibility to turn to You all to wish a good holiday.
In our traditions, Christmas is the biggest holiday of the year. It is in a special way the holiday for the family, when we wish to be together with our dear and loved ones. Traditions often become help in caring and maintaining the fellowship to which we all belong. But it is important that this holiday does not shield us in our togetherness with our close ones, but gives us inspiration and courage to reach out a hand to all those who need us. This is also a part of the message of Christmas. My Christmas speech in the radio has ever since the beginning aimed at sending a greeting to all You Swedes, who for a longer of shorter time are situated abroad.
You might be aid workers, UN soldiers, official representatives of our country, students at universities and colleges abroad, young people who give yourself the chance to travel around the world for a period of time to meet other societies and cultures, or Swedes who permanently have settled in other countries for work and family life. I send a warm though and greeting to You and wish You joy and satisfaction in Your various tasks, in which You are also good representatives of our country.
During the past year, I have, together with the Queen, paid for State Visits: to Vietnam and in connection with that to Brunei, to Slovenia and to Iceland.
Only a few decades ago, Vietnam fought a brutal war that left destruction and poverty. Today, an interesting development in many levels is taking place in the country. Sweden was the first country in the western world to establish diplomatic relations with Vietnam. It was in January of 1969. Since then, we have been involved in different aid activities and eventually even trade and cultural exchange with the country.
The State Visit to Slovenia in June was characterised by the country’s entry to the European Union in the beginning of May, when the EU was enlarged by ten new members. This is a development that was impossible to predict a few decades ago. The European Union has ever since the beginning been an important peace project, which we tend to forget today. In the union, democratic countries live together and shape the future of Europe.
The State Visit to Iceland was my third. The first two took place in 1975 and 1987. We have also visited the country many times in other connections. Iceland may be the smallest and the most north situated of our Nordic neighbour countries. But it makes a un-obliterate impression with its grand nature, its now dynamic economic development and its rich cultural heritage. We got to experience all this, as well as the Crown Princess who also took part in the visit, during some interesting days in the beginning of September.
If we continue to look out on the world, there are unfortunately many things that infuse worries. We cannot give up, but must continue the work for resolving conflicts. We must believe that the power of peace and reconciliation is larger than that of the hate and violence.
On our path through life we need a guiding star that points us to the possibilities of good. Wee do not speak widely about our role models or the basic values we have chooses as our guiding principles, but they are there when we need them. It can be rewarding to once and again give them a though, and let one be inspired by them.
The Middle East is often in our thoughts. We feel with the people who live in these countries – people who meet threats every day, who do not see a possibility or open door for chance, and who constantly have to worry for the future of their children. A whole world is waiting for the wise men and women of influence, to dare to come out and speak the language of peace. For them to understand, that in all conflicts where people fight for their right to live in security and dignity – it is important to look at the situation also with different eyes. We wish with all of our hearts that the situation will be improved, and that violence can be turned into peace.
When I think of the year 2004, I remember the many visits I paid together with the Queen, all around our great country. It has been to companies, non-profit organisations, jubilees and conferences. To deepen the Eriksgator (county visits) I made during the first years after my accession to the throne, we every now and then make day visits to municipalities and get a chance to get a follow-up on the development. The meeting with people in local connections in their own environments is exciting, wherever they take place.
I feel, that the Queen and I, through our presence, can bring joy and gratitude to people when they with pride show their home grounds and tell of their traditions and special sights. They often give us back a rich amount of kindness, warmth, affection and confidence. I would like to emphasize how grateful I am for these, for us, so stimulating meetings. We truly have a rich country to feel pride for.
I would also like to express my delight of the fact that Crown Princess Victoria during the past year has become an even more important support for the Queen and me in our many official duties. The Crown Princess is conducting a qualified educational programme, aiming to, in the best way possible, preparing her for the task that will one day be hers. But already at this point, she can help me, and get many expressions of affection and appreciation from the people she meets. I feel pride for her, and I know that she is grateful and looks to the future with confidence.
During the past year, we have celebrated the Royal Palace of Stockholm’s 250-years jubilee. After the devastating palace fire in 1697, it took more than half a century before the new palace was finished and ready to be occupied in 1754. It was the then being royal couple, Adolf Fredrik and Lovisa Ulrika, who got to take it in occupation.
The Royal Palace of Stockholm is a grand building that provides character to the whole of central Stockholm. The Palace holds art treasures of a magnificent kind and carries many historic memories. It belongs to us all. It is therefore my wish that as much as possible, shall be open to interested visitors from far and near.
But the Palace is not only a historic building. It is also a living workplace for the Queen, Crown Princess and me, as well as for our capable employees. We have a joint task to cherish, protect and show the cultural heritage that is here. Tours, exhibitions, concerts and church services every Sunday is a part of what is offered during eleven of the year’s twelve months. During 2004, the Palace has been celebrated in many ways, and I have rejoiced over the large crowds of people that have come. Welcome back!
Sweden is our country, which we love to its foundations. Here, we want to be able to live well. We have a responsibility to protect and preserve it, but also to review what is happening.
Our children are the most precious we have. All of us parents surely want to give our children the best, and I do not mean in material respect. Children need vast amounts of comfort and love, not at least as a counterbalance to the violence that is flushing over us, often in an entertaining purpose. Let us help each other to safeguard them that do not have voices strong enough to speak for themselves.
Sweden is today a multicultural society. You that have come to us from other countries and cultures supply our society with new worth by Your knowledge, experience and traditions – and You have to be met with openness and respect to be able to grow into our society. We can never ever silently accept expressions of racism or hostility. As citizens, we all have obligations towards our fellow beings and towards the society in general. There is an old word in our Christian tradition that I myself happily return to. It has a universal validity and exists in many other cultures with little variations. “All that you want people to do for you, you shall also do for them”. It is not called “the golden rule” for nothing.
Let us try to apply it. Reach out a hand. Take time to listen and give of ourselves. Let us show aprreciation to others, and respect every individual beings right to intergrity. This is my wish for the new year.
And now, from the Queen and my whole family, to You all: a very good continuation of the Christmas and after that a Happy New Year!
*If you understand a little Swedish (or just wanna hear him), you can listen to the speech online, click here and click on "lyssna på Kungens jultal"