On Tuesday, members of the Swedish royal family attended the traditional ceremonies for the opening of the Riksdag, Sweden’s parliament—and, as usual, they brought along their diamonds and pearls.
King Carl XVI Gustaf was joined at Parliament House for the ceremony by Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, Prince Carl Philip, and Princess Sofia.
There’s an interesting dress code for this event, one which hearkens back to a time when the event was a whole lot grander. (We’ll talk more about that in just a minute.) The royal ladies all wear black-and-white attire with diamond and pearl jewels. Queen Silvia chose pearls for the occasion: pearl drop earrings, a pearl necklace, and a lovely pearl and diamond brooch. She wore the same diamond and pearl cluster brooch, which has a pear-shaped pearl pendant, for the opening of the Riksdag in September 2019.
Silvia also added a few more jewelry pieces, including a stack of bracelets and a large ring on her right hand.
Here’s a closer look at some of those jewels, including a two-stranded pearl bracelet and a gold Cartier Love Bracelet.
With her black and white outfit, Crown Princess Victoria wore a suite of delicate jewelry that she’s owned for more than a decade. The white gold and pearl pieces come from one of her favorite jewelry brands, Kreuger. The set features a necklace and matching earrings, and I believe I spot a matching ring on her right hand, too.
Here’s a closer look at the earrings from the set. All of the pieces share this abstract butterfly design.
The royal party also included Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia, who also abided by the traditional black-and-white dress code for ladies.
She added a bit of sparkle to her ensemble with a pair of diamond drop earrings.
Today, the opening of the Riksdag is a business-like event, part of the regular functioning of Sweden’s legislative government. But decades ago, the event was much grander, more on the scale of the State Opening of Parliament in Britain during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The event was previously held in the throne room at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, with the monarch reading a speech from the throne and members of the royal family looking on. This photograph was taken during the event in June 1905, with King Oscar II on the throne. You’ll spot the women of the royal family in court dress in a balcony on the right side of the photograph.
Court dress for Swedish royal women used to be much more elaborate. Queens and princesses wore tiaras, veils, and robes edged with ermine. The black-and-white color scheme that persists today has its roots in the colors of the gowns worn with this traditional mode of court dress. Above, Queen Josefina of Sweden and Norway is painted in her jewels, veil, and robes around 1858. (She’s wearing her diamond tiara, which now resides in Norway, and the Leuchtenberg Pearl and Ruby Brooch, which remains in Sweden.)
One interesting hallmark of Sweden’s court dress was the design of the sleeves: white material set within a black lattice design. You’ll spot the sleeve detail in this portrait of Queen Sofia of Sweden, wearing court dress around 1908. Her jewelry includes her intricate, fascinating diamond tiara, which today is worn by Queen Silvia.
You’ll also spot the signature sleeve peeking out from beneath the ermine robes worn here by Crown Princess Louise of Sweden in 1925. Interestingly, she’s also wearing Queen Sofia’s Tiara in this portrait.
Queens consort weren’t the only ones who wore court dress in Sweden. Forms of the traditional dress were also sported by princesses and other ladies from the royal family, as well as by their ladies-in-waiting and other members of their households. Here, Princess Ingrid—later Queen Ingrid of Denmark—poses for a formal portrait in court dress for the first time in 1928. She’s wearing jewelry that belonged to her late mother, Margaret of Connaught, and her grandmother, Queen Victoria of Sweden: the Turquoise Daisy Bandeau, several of Queen Victoria’s stars used as pendants on a necklace, and the Devonshire Turquoise Brooch. All of these pieces would later travel with her to Denmark, and they’re now worn by her daughters (the turquoises by Queen Margrethe, the stars by Princess Benedikte).
The use of court dress continued through most of the twentieth century. Here, Princess Sibylla (mother of King Carl XVI Gustaf) wears her robes, veil, decorations, and jewels for the opening of the Riksdag in 1957. She’s chosen the Connaught Diamond Tiara and the Bernadotte Emeralds for the occasion.
King Carl XVI Gustaf’s four sisters, Princesses Margaretha, Birgitta, Desiree, and Christina, were the last generation of the family to wear court dress in Sweden. Here, Margaretha wears court dress for the first time at the opening of the Riksdag in 1954.
The traditional ceremony in the throne room of the palace was discontinued in 1975, and royal ladies have not worn court dress for the event since. But there are still a few vestiges of the old system hanging around. Along with the black and white clothes and jewels worn for the present-day opening of parliament, members of the royal households still sometimes wear court dress for formal occasions like royal weddings and state banquets. Here, Karolin A. Johansson, who was the head of Crown Princess Victoria’s royal household from 2012 until 2019, wears court dress for the wedding of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia in 2015. The lattice-style sleeves live on!
Our coverage of this week’s representation dinner in Stockholm will be available on the site tomorrow!