The Royal Treatment: A Cultural Artifact

We arrived in Stockholm a few days ago after a sleepy five hour train ride from Copenhagen through the Swedish countryside. 

I have to say, one of my favorite aspects of this trip is that we’ve used pretty much every means of transportation to get around: plane, train, boat, bus, metro, taxi and tram. I usually only use a car to get around, so it’s been a new and fun experience to navigate the system.

Sweden definitely has a different vibe than both Copenhagen and Oslo. After all, it has a population of about 10 million people with 2 million of them in Stockholm, making the area feel much more metropolitan.

On our first full day, we explored the palace and watched the changing of the guard. I was struck with the notion that Royal palaces like the one I was standing in are places where tradition and contemporary culture collide. 

On our tour of the grandiose palace, we learned how the King and Queen welcome dignitaries in the same room that they host raves for the people. Each room was classically decorated but had a modern function in today’s environment.

All of the cities we went to had a royal family with a palace at the center of the city. For such an egalitarian society, this symbol of wealth and power felt out of place. That is, until a local girl in Oslo explained to us how she felt about it.

She said that the Royal family is a symbol of dignity and tradition for the country and that they don’t really think of them as the elite or wealthy.

This feedback confirmed the fact that prestige and influence doesn’t necessarily equate with privilege and elitism.

Additionally, if I’ve learned anything from this trip, it’s that Scandinavian governments operate completely differently than American government, but both systems are ruled by democracy. For these countries, I appreciate the relatively peaceful transition from monarchy to democracy through the balance of both tradition and the will of the people. 

Personally, I have always been a huge fan of all things Disney, which of course means that I am obsessed with Disney princesses. I even bought a tiara at the palace in Copenhagen to prove it. I’d like to think that the benevolence and compassion demonstrated by royalty in Disney movies might be inspired by the Scandinavian monarchs. 

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