The purpose of the Royal Guard is to protect the Royal Palace (Kungliga Slottet) in Stockholm, and since 1981 Drottningholms Palace as well. The Royal Guard has existed since 1523. Until the 1960's, the Royal Guard duty was assigned to special Guard units, among them the Svea Guards (Svea Livgarde). Today the duty of Royal Guard is assigned to about 60 units from all branches of the Swedish armed forces. It is considered a great honor for a soldier to be assigned for Royal Guard duty.
The Swedish Royal Family. From left to right: Prince Carl Philip, Queen Silvia, Princess Victoria, King Carl XVI Gustaf, Princess Madeleine.
The Royal Palace - Three Crowns (Tre Kronor). In the background you can see most of the Old City (Gamla Staden). The earliest building on this site was built in the 13th century by Birger Jarl. During the years the Palace was built larger and larger, but the entire Palace was destroyed in the great fire on May 7 1697. A new Palace was built, designed by Nicodemus Tessin t.y., which is the same Palace you can see today.
Drottningholms Palace. The original buildings were built by King Johan III in the 16th century. The palace was a gift to the Queen, Katarina Jagellonika. The name "Drottningholm" comes from the swedish word Drottning, which means "queen", and holm, which means "island". This original palace was completely destroyed in a fire in 1661. The following year the construction of the new palace, designed by Nicodemus Tessin t.o. began. The Royal Family lives here since 1981.
My company lined up on the bridge between the Swedish Parliament (Riksdagen) and the Coinage Square (Mynt torget), awaiting inspection from the Major of the Guard before we march to the Royal Palace (Kungliga Slottet).
My company lined up on the Rifle Stand (Gevärsbron) in the Outer Castleyard (Yttre borggården). The soldiers in the old-fahioned uniforms and helmets is the unit we relieved, from the 1st Infantry Regiment, the Swedish Royal Guards (I1 - Svea Livgarde). This unit, founded in 1521, is the oldest still operational military unit in the world.
Part of the company lined up for Grand Post Exchange (Stor Postavlösning) on the Rifle Stand (Gevärsbron). Grand Post Exchange is done at noon every day at the Royal Palace.
My company exchanging places with the unit that relieved our guard.
This is what the dorms in the Royal Guard Flight (Högvaktsflygeln) looked like. This is where we slept when we weren't standing guard.
An Arctic Ranger at the Royal Palace. Notice the white gloves and overboots (damasker) worn at these special occasions. This Ranger is currently not on guard duty, and this is why the bayonett isn't attached to his rifle. This picture was taken in December, and that is why the long coat is worn. This coat is not worn in the summer.
A note to all tourists planing to visit Stockholm: be sure to come and see the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace, it is a great experience and a perfect "photo opportunity". During summer (June-August) and around Christmas/New Years, the changing of the guard occurs almost every day at noon (1 am on Sundays and holidays). The guard unit usually start at the Army Museum, and marches through the city to the Royal Palace accompanied by the Army Band (Arméns Musikkår). During all other times, the changing of the guard is at noon on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and 1 am on Sundays.
You can learn more about the Swedish Royal Family here.
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