The residence’s main room
All of the state rooms retain the elegant stucco wall and ceiling decorations so typical of the Adam brothers. The brothers’ interior designs were rich in detail, including the large fireplace, intricate brass door handles and the stucco ceiling ornamentation in the large gallery, with its three circular motifs. The room received a new colour scheme of white and blue courtesy of Torben Grut on his visit in 1921, at which time the original gilding on the ceiling was also painted over. The room was also denuded of anything deemed to be an addition from the 1890s. While the Renaissance furnishing has changed since the Palmstiernas’ grand inaugural ball on 2 January 1922, the function of the residence’s main reception room remains the same.
29 June 1954: A splendid state banquet
The large gallery on the first floor is teeming with people, the ladies sparkling and shimmering, the floral displays and candlelight reflecting in cocktail glasses. Everyone is waiting for the guests of honour, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.
Ambassador Gunnar Hägglöf and his wife Anna have planned the evening down to the finest detail. The cool, crisp neoclassicism of the Adam brothers’ design has been complemented by flowers, textiles and special lighting. White gardenias decorate the elegant staircase, filling the air with their scent as the guests ascend. Then, the sound rises from those assembled on the street outside, waiting for a glimpse of the royal couple. Here she comes!
The embassy in bloom
The guests assemble in the three first-floor reception rooms awaiting the Queen. The unbroken line of site though the Adam brothers’ three state rooms is the house’s most attractive feature and is widely commented on by the guests. At 20:25 precisely, the English Queen enters the residence resplendent in a white tulle dress covered with gold embroidery. In the temporary dining room on the ground floor, guests are greeted by a lush garden of garlanded fruit and flowers that match the Adam brothers’ original stucco walls. On the tables stand roses, carnations and gillyflower in large arrangements, while the open fireplace is garlanded with daisies. English servants attired in uniforms of the Swedish court wait on the tables at which the jewellery bedecked ladies glow alongside the candles and silverware.
After dinner, the glittering guests return to the first-floor reception rooms to take coffee. The Swedish and British press alike report on the meticulously planned event, which appears to have been an uncommon triumph. Swedish Foreign Minister Östen Undén and the British Queen Mother get on like a house on fire and Princess Margaret and the Archbishop of Canterbury are enjoying themselves royally. On the stroke of 11 o’clock, as protocol decrees, the party comes to an end.
A painstakingly prepared state visit
The successful banquet held in conjunction with the state visit of King Gustav VI Adolf and Queen Louise in 1954 is preceded by painstaking preparations. The royal couple have a packed programme and nothing can be left to chance; as Gunnar Hägglöf later recalls in his memoirs, in England such things are taken seriously. One of the Swedish Embassy’s counsellors is tasked with bringing all of his astuteness to bear on familiarising himself with the finer points of English royal court protocol.
On the first evening of the visit, a state banquet is held at Buckingham Palace and on 29 June the Swedish royal couple return the courtesy with a banquet at the Swedish Embassy. To accommodate the 60 guests, the Hägglöfs have decorated a temporary dining room next door at No. 29, which at the time was leased by the legation. Two rooms have been connected by sliding doors to serve as a dining room in just such an eventuality. British interior designer John Siddeley is engaged to decorate and light the room, while Anna Hägglöf oversees the intensive work of table setting like a hawk. Woven wall hangings, silver cutlery. antique glass and magnificent candelabras have made the journey from Stockholm especially for the occasion together with the royal couple aboard the cruiser Tre Kronor.