Today the King held his traditional Christmas speech, broadcasted from the Royal Palace of Stockholm. As there is no official English version of the speech, here it is translated by me:
His Majesty The King’s Christmas Speech 2005
Picture by Johan Ljungström/Swedish Radio
Dear Swedes, at home and abroad
At this time of year, many of us think about the year that has passed – what has happened, what we have done and what we have not had the time to do. For my own part, it often strikes me how much unexpected things happens, both in the little and big world; things which none could predict.
Despite this, we put down a lot of work in trying to predict what will happen, especially when it comes to economics, politics, climate- and development issues. And of course it is important that we plan as best we can to meet the future, at the same time as we must accept that we know near to nothing about tomorrow.
Last year, after mine and my family’s visit to the Drottningholm Palace Chapel on Christmas Day, I as usual had the opportunity to send You a Christmas wish via radio. My words, with a wish for a good and happy future, now, afterwards, seem empty and hollow. Because already then, far out in the Indian Ocean, an earthquake had started the fatal flood which would batter all possibilities for a bright future for hundreds of thousands of people.
Boxing Day last year, the day when so many lives where taken before the intended time, when houses, homes and great areas of nature where destroyed. Not following any (wicked) deed, but following the forces of nature, over which we people have no power.
One year has passed, but we never forget the catastrophe that took place on the other side of the globe and which came to affect also our country so hard.
It is my devout hope that all of Your whom are having a difficult time, will feel hope in an existence where You find it possible to live and be, an existence which can also offer some amount of joy and harmony. We are many whom are with you in your thoughts and prayers.
During the year, nature catastrophes have continued to happen in a peculiar way in our immediate surroundings and far away in the world. Human lives have been lost and great damages to both property and nature have followed in the tracks of the catastrophes. The economic losses have been extensive.
In our own country, the winter storm Gudrun came and destroyed and devastated large areas, especially in southern Sweden.
In the USA, the hurricane Katrina brought along that New Orleans and large areas there around were brought under water, with many deaths and severe environment damages as the consequence.
As the world had not seen enough of misery this year, just months ago Pakistan and India were struck hard by an earthquake that killed and mutilated thousands of people. In endless mountains, many people now live without protection during severe conditions of winter cold.
But in the midst of misery and chaos, there is after all rays of hope, important to put attention to and take note on.
Such a ray of light, I feel, have been the reports about the negotiations about the climate issue in Montreal. All governments of the world have met to try to find a common view at how the damaging carbon dioxide is to be decreased. Even if not all countries stand behind the so-called Kyoto protocol, most countries agreed on continuing the talks on how to continue. The insight that we all inhabit the same planet and are dependent on each other is becoming clearer. The most important part from the government’s negotiations in Montreal, I believe is the increased faith in each other’s good intentions, which we have been able to read about. It gives hope for the future.
Another ray of light during this dark year has been the evident way in which many people in our country volunteered to help in connection with the tsunami – both here at home and especially in Thailand. This was enormously gratifying. The horrendous catastrophe triggered a generosity which was outstanding. I would warmly like to than all of You whom in an unselfish way was there and helped in many different ways. It has warmed my heart, and with pride and joy I once again establish that values such as solidarity and care for others is a part of the foundation which our country is based on. A foundation which stands steadily also in times woe and sorrow.
But brotherliness is not at all something unique for our country. The Queen and I, as well as the Crown Princess, have during the year visited several countries where the development creates faith in the future, thanks to individual’s commitment and taking of responsibility.
We have visited the vast Australia and taken part of the enterprising attitude and creative force which people show in this part of the world. We have been in Kenya, and the Crown Princess both in Bangladesh and China, three very different countries which are all characterized by its history and culture. I have been in India and visited companies within the IT sector. It contributes with improvements to many areas in this vast land with the world’s second largest population.
What is especially satisfactory is to see all the Swedes in companies and voluntary organisations which are active around the world. The consideration for others, which became so evident in connection with the tsunami, is for many an important driving force in the daily work. To be able to help others around our world is a benefit.
This is what I want to especially remember when I think of the past year. They are bright and important pieces of the memory cavalcade.
The scouting movement and the founding values, which its work is built on, already as young gave me many positive insights. In the scouting groups it is expressed with the words “a scout feels responsibility for themselves and others”. These words have meant a lot to me and my view of the human being throughout the years. I have been a scout for 50 years, and this is something that The Swedish Guide and Scout Association have wanted to manifest. My proposal has been that we should lift out the education to raking responsibility and leadership which the scouting movement gives, to try to stimulate more young men and women to take a leading responsibility in the business life, public life and voluntary society life. It is my hope that this will be given attention, which will further strengthen the weight and importance of a good leadership.
Values based on respect and care for our fellow human beings must be brought on to future generations. Let us infuse hope in our youths, and give them confidence in the future. We must make them dare to commit to an education, a profession, on themselves but also on fellow human beings who need help and support.
Let us all light a candle and spread warmth, both real and figurative. To reach out a hand, remember near and dear, but also other fellow human beings who are going through a hard time, are lonely, sick or need help, are important. We can all light a candle in the darkness.
With this in mind I want to wish You all a continuous good holiday and a fortunate year 2006. I know that my whole family joins me in this greeting.
To hear the speech (in Swedish), go here and click on "hör kungens tal" in red under the picture..
A larger version of the picture, from Johan Ljungström/Swedish Radio.