The dearest treasures of the Finnish Lassi Koivunen, 57, include a medal awarded to him by the King of Sweden. Koivunen has had a twenty-year career as a furniture conservator in the Swedish court.
- The most important task of those who work in the court is to help each in their own way his majesty in the performance of his duties. We were all like a big family in the court, Lassi Koivunen defines.
Born in Turku, Koivunen went to Stockholm to study as a furniture conservator in 1988. During his studies in the summer of 1990, he took office at the Royal Palace
After graduating, he moved to Finland and started as a furniture conservator at Turku Castle. However, already in 1992, Koivunen returned to Stockholm as the studio manager of furniture conservators at the Royal Palace.
Koivunen specializes in Swedish, 18th-century veneered furniture.
- With regard to my specialty, there could be no better place than the Swedish court to get to work with that kind of furniture. The court's collection is one of the finest in the world.
The 13 castles of the Swedish court are well-preserved and authentic. In the court's carefully preserved archives you can find invoices from 18th-century carpenters who made the furniture.
- It is impossible to get closer to that era. The archives are a real treasury.
In addition to the furniture, he also met the Swedish royal family at the court.
- I met several times His Majesty and the Queen and the Crown Princess and Prince. There are many great memories.
Crown Princess Victoria's education included knowledge of Royal Palace furniture.
- We did a tour at the Palace and I told about the furniture.
Koivunen has always found the encounters with the royals very pleasant.
- It is easy to talk to them, although of course there is etiquette in the court which is followed.
Victoria is always called the Crown Princess and the King His Majesty.
- I would say that you can sense from the king the authenticity and importance with which he performs his duties as a Head of State. The same attitude is also reflected in the Crown Princess and her husband Daniel, Koivunen mentions.
- They really do a lot of work for Sweden. It is sad that its importance is not always sufficiently taken into account when discussing the cost of the royal house.
During Koivunen's time at the court, several large celebrations took place in the court in addition to Nobel dinners and other annual events.
- There were, among other things, the 50th anniversary of His Majesty, the wedding of the Crown Princess and the funeral of Prince Bertil and also princess Lilian. Events always required preparation in my work as well.
After the wedding, the Crown Princess and her husband moved to Haga Palace.
- When renovating the interior of the Palace, I fixed up several pieces of furniture in order for her, such as a desk.
Koivunen has fond memories of the late uncle of Prince Bertil and his wife Lilian. Princess Lilian’s Tiara was in a locked chest of drawers which key was lost. A tiara was needed for the Nobel dinner starting a few hours later.
Koivunen, who had recently started his work, was called to trouble with a large key box.
- I will forever remember how I drove Princess Lilian to Djurgården, a little worried about how I would find just the right one among dozens of keys.
The relief was great when Koivunen saw the chest of drawers.
- I knew right away with what kind of key that type of chest of drawers would open. A suitable key was found and the chest of drawers opened with the first attempt.
For the second time, Princess Lilian offered a drink after Koivunen had completed his mission. Koivunen said that he was with his car and had to refuse to drink because of it.
- Princess Lilian said in amazement that oh, young men today can't even drink. Prince Bertil smiled in the background because he understood that it could not be done, Koivunen laughs.
Koivunen's workplace for 20 years was an annex next to the Royal Palace.
- Previously, the studios were located in the Palace, but they were relocated for fire safety in the early 20th century. We also had workspaces near my home on Lovö Island, where there are court offices.
Koivunen's duties included inspecting all 13 castles in and around Stockholm.
- I went regularly to see how the furniture was in different castles and which of the objects needed action.
Certain castles open during the summer and close in the fall. All items should look neat.
- Some of the castles are accessible to the public. The Royal Palace is also in official use, and guests of the state usually also stay there.
The President of Finland traditionally makes his first state visit to Sweden. While visiting Stockholm, Martti Ahtisaari began another tradition by meeting the Finnish staff of the Royal Palace.
- After that, I met Tarja Halonen twice, and before I left I had time to meet Sauli Niinistö as well.
Koivunen made a difficult decision to quit his job at the Swedish court when a family with two children, after much deliberation, decided to move to Finland in 2013.
- The solution was not easy. In a roundabout way I heard that His Majesty had understood my decision, but the Queen was amazed. I had done very confidential duties for the royal couple on their private premises.
The timing of the move was affected by issues related to children’s education. At first, Koivunen took leave of absence.
- We had a one-year trial period. If the children had not adapted, we would have returned to Sweden.
The change in life was more demanding than expected, but the family decided to stay in Naantali, which was chosen as their home.
From Naantali it is easy to travel by ship to Stockholm, where Koivunen still works through his own company. He has a study in Naantali, but also in Stockholm. About half of the customers are Swedes, among them the Swedish state, but Koivunen is not allowed to talk about these tasks in public.
A large proportion of Finnish customers are located in the Helsinki metropolitan area. Recently, Koivunen has worked on several pieces of furniture at the Sinebrychoff Art Museum.
- It is great to bring the know-how accumulated in Sweden to your home country, Koivunen says.
Suomalainen Lassi työskenteli 20 vuotta kuninkaallisen elämän kulisseissa Ruotsin hovissa - Kuninkaalliset - Ilta-Sanomat