Stockholm has a wealth of well preserved historic sites in and around the city. Tucked away in one of the large royal parks is elegant Rosendal Palace. The Regency Days of 2015 continued there on the day after the ball. We picnicked on the lawn in front of the palace.
In the afternoon we joined one of the guided tours of the palace. The palace staff was thrilled to meet people dressed in Regency costume. It was actually the first time, as far as they could recall. One of the staff members turned out be a former colleague of mine and a possible new recruit! Our guide gave an entertaining yet enlightening tour through the well-preserved and rare (for Swedish conditions) interiors from the 1820´s. I am always impressed by its builder, the King Karl XIV Johan, a fascinating person who made the most unlikely career. The King was born 1763 in Bearn, France, as Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte. He grew up in a modest middle class home, in a family of tradesmen and artisans, but chose a life in the army. The turmoils following the French Revolution led Bernadotte to the absolute centre of power as one of Napoleon´s generals. In 1804 he was appointed Marshall of France and later Prince of Ponte Corvo and governor of Rome. 1810, at the height of his career, he was suddenly offered – and he accepted – the Swedish throne. (Political complications had left the country nearly bankrupt, with state affairs in a mess. Half of the nation had been lost to Russia and the king was old and childless.) Through his remarkable diplomatic skills, courage, and enormous fortune, Bernadotte, from 1818 King Karl Johan, managed to get the country on its feet.
His wife, born Desirée Clary in Marseille, daughter of a tradesman, belonged to the inner circles of nouveau riche Paris society and reluctantly gave up her position to move up north to a cold, old-fashioned country where the aristocracy initially frowned upon the upstarts. (They never forgot Queen Desirée´s modest origins and connection with “that little Corsican” – she had once been engaged to Napoleon and her sister Hortense was married to Napoleon´s brother Joseph Bonaparte.)
The Rosendal palace is a museum, but it is still owned by the present monarch, a direct descendant of the first Bernadottes. Napoleon is history, but The House of Bernadotte survives to this day.
When we stepped out in the sun we danced some more before parting: Mr Isaac´s maggot, Duke of Kent´s waltz, Hole in the wall.
We always debate etiquette on these occasions. Is it considered bad form to wear a hat when dancing outdoors? Or should one dance outdoors at all? We tend to be very relaxed with Regency etiquette in order to avoid excluding newcomers. Same goes with costumes – everyone is welcome if one does one´s best. What is your opinion?
I was not able to attend the following day when the Regency Days continued at yet another castle with brunch, more dancing, visiting a church, and walking in the park.
Sadly my Regency calendar has only blank pages so far, but I am sure we will meet again in the Autumn.