Your Majesty,Your Excellency, Mr Brauwers, Belgian Ambassador in Sweden,Your Excellency, Mr Suresh Kumar, First Officer of the Indian Embassy in Sweden,Mr Rob Vousden, acting Keeper of the Royal Philatelic Collection,My Lords, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, First and foremost, on behalf of all the members of the Royal Philatelic Society, I would particularly like to thank you, Your Majesty, for honouring us with your presence here today. That the King of Sweden himself should come and open the Stockholmia 2019 exhibition, is the very greatest honour that you could bestow upon us. I will make this address in English only and I wish to apologise for that. Although I have seen every episode of “The Bridge”, my Swedish vocabulary is unfortunately still too limited. Indeed, with barely 4 words to my credit, namely gravad lax, smörgasbord and, of course, Aquavit, I think I would have a hard time writing a decent speech. Today we are delighted to be opening the Stockholmia 2019 exhibition. It is the most important celebration being held outside the United Kingdom to mark the 150th anniversary of the Royal Philatelic Society London. Many people are asking themselves why we are celebrating this landmark anniversary in Sweden. Some also wonder why we have a Belgian President, but this is another story. Well, we simply arrived at the conclusion that it had to be Sweden by logical deduction. First of all, it is generally known and accepted that philately is the coolest hobby in the world. So we had to find an equally cool location. And in these times of global warming, we didn’t want to take any risks. Which meant we had to look far to the North – even further than the north of Scotland or even… Yorkshire. In this way, our shortlist boiled down, if that’s the right expression, to Canada, Scandinavia, Alaska and last but not least, definitely our first choice… Siberia. Second: as a ROYAL society, we had to celebrate in a Kingdom. Celebrating the Royal in a Republic would have been as inappropriate as for me being from Belgium as celebrating high quality chocolate… in Switzerland. For the Royal ‘noblesse oblige’ say the French. So that meant goodbye to Siberia and Alaska. Canada was more ticklish, since it is a monarchy, but given the fact that – at least for an ignorant person from Belgium like me – Canada seems technically still a part of the United Kingdom, we thought Canada was not the right choice for a celebration outside the UK. Finally, we wanted a country that not only shares some of the unique traditions of the British, but also shares some of their aversions. Indeed, our first and foremost concern was and is that our UK members should feel at home. Which is why we arrived at Sweden. After all, besides the UK, Sweden was until 1967 the only European country that used to think that for driving a car the right side is… the left side. To make it very clear for those who cannot follow, if you drive in the UK the left is right and the right is not right but this doesn’t mean of course that the right is left. I think I made myself perfectly clear now. But, right side or left side, Swedish not only share a unique tradition with the British, they also share an aversion with the British: they never wanted anything to do with the Euro… And that’s why by logical deduction, our choice fell on Sweden! And it was certainly the right choice, too! Count Douglas provided us with the necessary financial means. Seldom has there been a more generous gesture in philately. Our heartfelt gratitude goes out to him. We have also been able to rely on an unbelievably enthusiastic team built around Jonas Hällström, who has led and inspired his management team in an unprecedented way. And as the icing on the cake, today His Majesty The King of Sweden has come to open our exhibition. We could not have dreamt of anything better. To thank you, Your Majesty, I have taken the liberty of bringing along a small gift for You.. Given the fact that I come from Belgium, there were only two things that I could choose from – two things that drive 99,99% of the Belgian economy: chocolate or beer. But I thought that beer is not really a Royal gift. And I also wanted to save Your Majesty the astronomical invoice for paying the sky-high Swedish import duty on beer. So I brought another small souvenir, especially for You, in chocolate. I would now like to invite His Majesty the King of Sweden to officially open this exhibition. Thank you for your attention.
THE BELOW PHOTO: COURTESY OF RPSL.