Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Royal Wedding in Sweden. During a Recession.

The crown princess of Sweden is engaged. Finally. Crown princess Victoria and Daniel Westling. Apparently, she’s been dating this guy for about eight years. Poor schlep. That’s a lot of pressure. What with the whole dating an actual princess thing. And the media. And the debate on whether he should even get to marry her because he’s not nobility. Poor guy was even worried about getting turned down. But apparently, things worked out for him and Victoria said yes. And now once he seals the deal they can start the ever important task of baby-making. Or as the princess said - “family-building.”

I’ll be honest, I really don’t care. I tried to resist writing about this, but most of Sweden seems to be pretty excited about all of this. Of course, some people see this as some sort of medieval backwards ceremony in which the princess wasn’t allowed to marry who she wanted when she wanted and needed to get permission. Those people have too much time on their hands and worry too much about a monarchy that is purely ceremonial.

I’m not too worried about that sort of thing. I’m just hoping for a day off. Maybe some sort of national holiday. It seems like a Swedish thing to do. The wedding will take place in the summer of 2010. So it’s going to be a while I suppose.

But really, I’m more interested in the possible economic implications. In fact, I sense a conspiracy. Clearly, the monarchy is in cahoots with the reigning government. A recession rolls in that is expected to stick around for quite a while. What better way to distract the people of Sweden than by holding the first royal wedding in about thirty years?

Most people don’t expect the party to suffer because of the financial crisis. If anything, the wedding will only help. This should give the monarchy plenty of opportunity to pump money into the Swedish economy. And really goes back to a theory I’ve taken under my wing about weddings being good for the economy. As I wrote about same-sex marriage, there is plenty of money to be made in the wedding business.

So, because this has been expected for a while there is quite a bit of money set aside in the budget. In fact, some reports are expecting thousands of guests, as well as leaders from around the world to attend. There will even be three days of celebrations. One of which has to be a day off right?

Welcome to Sweden. Where the country prepares for a big ass party.

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  1. I don't really know anything about the Swedish monarchy, except isn't the queen from South America? It seems after that it wouldn't matter if the crown princess married someone of "nobility" or if she married some random person from Timbuktu, don't you think?

    In any case, I'm slightly excited about this because I will be in Sweden in summer 2010. =)

  2. @Jessy: Yes the queen has both German and Brazilian background, and I don't buy that nonsense about nobility anyway.

    @Hairy: I think you are right about the economic stimulus effect of this. One could only wish it could happen a little sooner.

    From reading the news media I don't get the impression that "most of Sweden" is excited about it (I'm not), but I suppose that is an example of the media bias. I was a bit surprised to see so much discussion about the anachronism that monarchy is, and so many calls for changing to a republican form of government.

    IMO, what seems most inconsistent with the ideals of democracy and equal opportunity is the fact that the position of "regent" (i.e. "ruling" king or queen) is inherited. Other than that, I don't have much objection to monarchy. It's like a living museum, and it provides a nice figurehead to spread goodwill around the world. I'm not too keen of the idea of a strong president, as in the US, though there are other republics where the power of the president is much more limited, e.g. Germany.

    What I would really, like, is if we could choose our kings and queens by popular vote. In fact, this was the case in the old days before Gustav Vasa, so it would be to revive an old tradition. The regent could be elected for life (but with the possibility of a recall election), and would have the same responsibilities as our current king. He or she would be expected to retire when too old to do the job. As the regent leaves office, a new one is elected by the people.

    I wouldn't mind voting for Victoria at all, as she is well prepared and capable. And she looks good on stamps and coins!


    On the topic of relationships...
    I thought you might find the link above interesting or at least funny.

  4. Monarchy is outdated - back in the day insulting a Royal Person was enough to warrant capital punishment. And the King himself was the only one with the legal right to judge these cases. Now? I bet you could spit in the Kings face and never see the inside of a jail. And no, I don't mean that you'd get killed dead on the spot. Bah!

    I have a great deal of respect for the King and the Crown Princess as people - I just don't have any respect for their offices anymore. Having a hereditary regent with actual executive power is undemocratic. Having a regent without executive power is meaningless. I think I'd almost prefer undemocratic to meaningless.

  5. @jessy - it will probably be quite the party here in 2010 when youre here then. good timing.

    @eklandisk - good call on the queen.

    and I think youre right about the media thing. most of the swedish media would have probably been a better description. but it is impressive just how much press it has gotten. I was surprised at least.

    I also think youre right on when you refer to monarchy as a living museum. which I think is why I like the idea as much as I do. its swedish history and culture. and granted it is a bit outdated, but thats part of the fun I think.

    the whole thin gwith voting for monarchy brings up plenty of issues. one of course being that if you start voting for the monarchy but not directly for the prime minister there might endup being a power struggle. and also voting for the monarchy back before vasa was mainly just the rich and nobility voting for the other rich and nobility.

    @jacob - I would argue that it isnt meaningless just because it is such a part of swedish history. a part of the culture and as eklandisk said its like a living museum.

  6. Yes - and I would argue that it's the part where "it's like a living museum" that's the problem. It's like an exhibition to delight touristy Americans. We are more than that. Sweden is more than a tourist attraction to make Americans clap their hands in delight.

    Word Verification: Perkle. Who makes these words up!? Do you get to choose them yourself? Did Smek this come up with this one.

    Also; Your twitter thingy - yea, that does make a lot of sense. I mean, it's not like every store out there sells "American" items. The West outside of America has such a strange relationship with America. We hate it and we love it and we love to hate it.

    Not me of course. I'm all about love.

  7. I think Finns envy Swedish royals. And admire, especially those lovely princesses :) -- Hairy, I blogged about the scam that Expressen pulled. Was the scam worth any news out there in Sweden? Or was it wiped under the carpet secretly?

    @Jacob M: I have nothing to do with that although 'perkle' is almost one Finnish swear word. Just can't take the credit for everything cool, LOL!

  8. @Jacob – I hate to break this to you, but I don’t think many people even realize Sweden has a monarchy. Most people I have talked to, regardless of their nationality, have no idea that Sweden even has ay sort of monarchy, figure head or not.

    And you’re right about Sweden being much more than the monarchy. But the monarchy is a huge part of Swedish history. One need only wander through Stockholm to realize that. Statues of kings everywhere. Streetnames. Buildings. It’s all there. All part of what built Sweden.

    And the word verification… its pretty glorious isn’t it? I have no idea where they come from. Or how they can even claim to be words most of the time. But it’s entertaining.

    I just wrote a post about the arsons in Södertälje, so I’ll leave that alone in the comments here.

    @smek – I didn’t hear much about expressens scam. But to be honest… it sounds hilarious. Mean and unethical. But hilarious.

    And what is the Finnish swear word that perkle almost resembles?

  9. It's 'perkele' which means the devil or satan, like 'saatana'. Pronounciation can be found out by watching some Finnish movies, LOL!
    'Perkele' is a very strong swear word. Use it with caution :)

  10. I just think its really weird. As an American anyway, I think of kings, queens, princesses, etc as being very old fashioned and seriously out-dated. So strange coming from a newer country like the US. I remember when I was a child and first heard that some places still had royal families that I just couldn't believe it. Now, some countries beside Sweden still having a royal family is fine to me. But because this is ultra-modern, super-progressive, abandon tradition and create an all equal, classless society Sweden, I find the royal family a bizarre misfit. Some complete oxy-moron of Swedish culture/society as I know it (so far anyway).

  11. @smek - I love it. I'll try to watch my use of the word though if I ever find myself in Finland again.

    @m8surf - you're right, but I think thats one of the reaons that i like it. because it is so very different.

    but I suppose you could also aruge that the fact that just an average guy off the street is marrying the princess and queen to be is very swedish in terms of the swedish ideal of elminating classes.

  12. The hairy, i urge u to watch this :) You live in Stockholm after all.

  13. @Hairy: If the election is done in a sensible way, I don't think it would cause too many problems or become a power struggle. It is quite clear to me that the parliament is the wrong body to appoint the King or Queen, the only sensible is by direct popular vote. This must be a non-partisan office in order to truly represent the nation.

    Since it is an office without any formal political power, I would be OK with a simple yes/no vote for a single candidate...besides I wonder who would be stupid enough to challenge Victoria (I picture this would only happen after current king Carl Gustaf abdicates or dies). If the people says "no", then the office would stay vacant until there is another, credible candidate.


  14. @anonymous – that is pretty glorious. It’s important to say it like it is. And the old man does just that.

    @eklandisk – I suppose just because it is a figurehead position rather thana position of power it could be easier to handle a vote. But how do you come up with candidates? Can I run for King? Is there a campaign?

  15. Why elect someone who is just a tradition? If u start a election u would kill the whole tradition?

  16. a good point. but I think the idea that it is tradition is something that people want to get rid of.

  17. @Hairy: We'll appoint a committee of course, to pick the right candidate(s) from the pool of nominees. ;-)

    @Anonymous: Electing the king would just be to revive an older tradition.

  18. ah... of course. a committee.

    in terms of the elections being an older tradition. yes. but thats going to limit who actually gets to vote. like the nobility. voting wasn't a right for every single person when this voting for king thing ended about 500 years ago.

  19. This wedding isn't going to do a single thing for the Swedish economy unless it strong at the time. It is a global financial crisis. This is something said to pacify the people.

    Need I not remind everyone of the french revolution and what happened to their royalty for living a little too large in times of economic hardship!

    I am all for the wedding, I say just wait a little until the economy and the people are a little more optimistic. Don't rub peoples noses in their hardship.

  20. love knows no time limit. or something like that.

    but in all seriousness, the wedding isnt going on until the summer of 2010, at which point most people think the economy wil be on the upswing again. not recovered by any means but at least working on recovering.