KING CARL XVI GUSTAF AND QUEEN SILVIA Swedish royals charm Canadians
Thoughts with families of victims of Afghan war, king says at dinner
Suji Park has always wanted to travel to Sweden, but the 21year- old never dreamed it would come to her — until she glanced toward the peacekeeping monument on Sussex Drive yesterday and noticed the king and queen of Sweden standing there.
“ It’s a special day; I asked people and they said the queen was here,” she said after noticing about a dozen black vehicles flanked by police escorts on motorcycles.
“ I think she is really beautiful. I love her,” she said.
Before attending a ceremony at the monument in honour of Canada’s role in peacekeeping missions, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia were officially welcomed at Rideau Hall by Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean yesterday morning, and unofficially by Swedish- Canadians.
Children waved Sweden’s yellow and blue flag, while bystanders snapped photos of the king and queen.
“ Indeed, I see this state visit, and the fact that you have been to our country before, as a powerful symbol of the strong friendship which unites Sweden and Canada,” Ms. Jean said.
“ And, given our similarities, it is understandable that, over the years, Canada and Sweden have worked very closely together on a number of issues, including environmental stewardship, democratic development, human rights and the establishment of the International Criminal Court.”
The Governor General said she had no doubt the royal couple would be reminded during their visit of how much the two nations have in common, including tastes in sports, social policies and environmental protection issues.
The king responded by saying that he found Canada to be a culturally rich nation of diversity and beauty.
“ The queen and I are very pleased to be back in Canada,” he said, adding that they have fond memories of their last visit, in 1988.
“ Over the years, a large number of Swedish people have made their homes in Canada,” he said, adding that he was also “ convinced” the visit would bring the two countries closer together.
After the speeches, eightyear- old Hanna Ericsson timidly stepped out to fulfil her duty of presenting the queen with flowers.
Although admitting to feeling a bit nervous, Hanna said the moment had been the most im- portant in her life.
After the ceremony, the couple met with the Governor General in private, then planted a tree on the grounds of Rideau Hall, as many prominent visitors have in the past.
During the tree- planting, the Governor General took the queen’s cape, hanging onto it until her visitor was finished scooping soil onto the base of the newly planted tree.
During a state dinner hosted by Ms. Jean last night at Government House, the king commented on the many times Canadian and Swedish forces had served together on peacekeeping missions.
Turning to the war in Afghanistan, he told the blacktie crowd that “ our thoughts are with the families, colleagues and friends” of the Canadian soldiers who have died.
Earlier yesterday, the National Gallery of Canada also hosted the royal visitors as they opened a Swedish silver exhibit, and took in a short tour of the gallery’s Canadian and First Nations Collection of art.
The couple were to be in Montreal today before travelling to Toronto and Niagara Falls, and will leave Canada after visiting Quebec City this weekend.