Your Royal Highnesses,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am so pleased to be able to welcome you all on this special occasion, the opening of a delightful little exhibition on one of the most beloved Royals of the 20th century, Astrid, Princess of Sweden and Queen of the Belgians.
First of all, of course, I turn to Her youngest son King Albert and Queen Paola , to Her grand-son Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxemburg, to Her grand- daughter Princess Astrid and Prince Lorenz of Habsburg and of course to Queen Sonja, who is representing King Harald, Queen Astrid´s nephew.
To welcome You all to this Family reunion in memory of Princess Astrid is a real privilege.
When Your Majesties, King Albert and Queen Paola paid a State Visit to Sweden some years ago we made a short stop at Fridhem, close to Norrköping. That is where Princess Astrid spent Her summers as a child and young girl with Her parents, Her only brother Prince Carl and Her two sisters: Märtha, later Crown Princess of Norway and Margaretha, Princess of Denmark.
This beautiful Hall of State also had a special significance to Princess Astrid. Here She was married to Prince Leopold the Duke of Brabant in a civil ceremony in November 1926.
And we entered today to the same music as she did almost 80 years ago, the popular Swedish wedding march “Bröllopet på Ulvåsa". The wedding was a great event in Sweden.
Much was written about the handsome young couple in Swedish magazines and papers as well as all over Europe. Swedes could be proud of the warm reception given to their beautiful Princess in Her new home country and extended family circle.
The exhibition that we gather around today is, as we have heard, chapter one in a sequence of two. Its focus is on Astrid, in Her young days as Princess of Sweden, before Her marriage to Crown Prince Leopold. Later, this year, the next chapter will follow in Brussels, an exhibition about Astrid as the Queen of the Belgians, which we already are looking forward to.
We all know how Queen Astrid´s life ended far too early. It was of course a tragedy to Her Husband and three small children, to Her family, but also to Her people. She was deeply missed and still is...Her reputation, Her aura have grown into a myth, still cherished by many generations, not least in Belgium.
This is very clear when you visit Belgium and whenever you mention Sweden. I have noticed this many times already, not least during our State Visits to Belgium. And I am sure we will have this impression confirmed once again when we visit the exhibition in Brussels in November.
Astrid has made an imprint in Belgian-Swedish history, hard to compare to anything else. It has tightened the ties between our Families but also between our countries. Therefore it feels so special to open this exhibition today.
Many collaborators of the Belgian and Swedish Royal Courts have worked closely together for a long time to make this happen. I wish to take this opportunity to express my warm gratitude to all of you. Since I have had the chance to follow your work and also sneak in the back-door I know the result is charming and attractive.
I hope the exhibition will be looked upon as a historic document but also as a wish of paying respect to a beloved person.
With these words I declare the exhibition “Astrid - Princess of Sweden - Queen of the Belgians" open.