14 juillet: a national day and a birthday


So, the big day for the French is here. I am sure there are many celebrations in Paris, and France, today. We (Swedes) also have something to celebrate today. It is the birthday of our Crown Princess Victoria. She usually celebrates her birthday on the island of Öland, on the east coast of Sweden, where the royal family has a 'summer house'. It seems it will be the same this year, after restrictions for a couple of years. There will be a concert at the old castle ruin, close to the summer palace. This ruin is a magic place, so a very nice place for the celebrations. I wanted to place a photo, but am unsure about the copyrights. If you are curious, you can have a look at Borgholm Castle ruin under link. 

As you might know the royal family has French ancestry. The first Bernadotte (on the Swedish throne) was Jean Baptiste. He was born in 1763 in Pau in southern France, and died in 1844 in Stockholm, Sweden. He joined the French Royal Army as rather young. After the French revolution he made a rapid career in the military, and Napoleon named him Marshal of the Empire. He played a significant role in the French victories at the time. He was married to Désirée Clary and thus brother-in-law to Joseph Bonaparte, the brother of Napoleon. Actually, Désirées first fiancé was Napoleon, but for one reason or the other the relationship did not last. 

In the beginning of the 19th century the royal family in Sweden was in disarray. When Gustav III was shot at the masquerade ball in Stockholm in 1792.  His son Gustav Adolf was only 14 years old and his uncle Duke Charles acted as regent until 1796 when Gustav came of age. He was not a good king and the situationen went from bad to worse. In 1809 he was dethroned and left Sweden to spend the rest of his life travelling around Europe. His uncle, now in his 60s, became king, but they all knew it was a temporary measure.

Sweden sent emissaries to Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte and offered him the throne of Sweden. Quite a unique case I would presume. Bernadotte did accept after some considerations. He became the heir-presumptive as Crown Prince to the childless Charles XIII, and ascended the throne in 1818 as Charles XIV Gustav. To this day his ascendants are sitting on the Swedish throne. 

It is a fantastic story, too long to tell here. However, for those interested there are several books written about it, both nonfiction and fiction. Many years ago, I read a historical fiction by Annemarie Selinko called Désirée. Still remember the impact this story had on me. It is the story of Bernadotte's wife who came from a merchant family in France and ended up Queen of Sweden. She was not too fond of Sweden, found it quite a dreadful place, and spent most of her time in France. Maybe I should read it again to freshen up my memory. 

Well, that was a little bit of my memories from French history. 


Comments

  1. I know very little about the Swedish royal family or its background so I really appreciated this post, Lisbeth!

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    1. Thank you Jeanie. I think it is quite a unique way of becoming a king.

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  2. I knew about the Bernadotte and read the awesome book by Selinko, but didn't know about Princess Victoria's birthday, neat that it would be on July 14!

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    1. Yes, Emma, it is quite a nice coincidence.

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  3. I always find the history of how all the royal families are intertwined throughout Europe quite fascinating!

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    1. They are Marg. I recently read that some viking kings are the forefathers to many of the European royal families.

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  4. The stories of the royal families are intriguing. All the connections!

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    1. They are. It seems that many of the royal families in Europe have their ancestors among the first Viking kings.

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