A few days ago, when I was hanging around in the lobby reading the internets, a late arriving girl materialized herself, I showed her the envelope with her name the reception guy left at the reception desk, we chatted a while and, well, since having a bit of company is never a bad idea, we hung around the town next day.
I was in Stockholm two years ago and I happened to see the changing of the royal guards. One bunch of soldiers arrived, another arrived, the leading ones said a few words ("Everything okay?" "Everything okay!" and both bunches left, one off-duty, one to take their positions. Passing the flag occured and maybe there was some fanfare. Apparently, this spectacle became popular so they improved it, throwing in a marching band and some new, exciting choreography. I noticed the marching band going around the Royal Castle on Sunday when I was hanging around the centre but it was Sunday and my first, last and only thought was that maybe some local garrison is keeping the citizens in a friendly mood, thus providing a Sunday promenade concert.
So, I was wandering around with K. and we happened to the Royal Castle around midday so I thought it a good idea to go there and watch. The bunch of soldiers that was finishing their shift assembled and looked decorative. To my utmost surprise, some army guy stepped out with a paper, announcing into the loudspeakers: "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm Captain Mikael Larsson (1) welcome to the changing of the Royal Guard, blah, blah, blah, and the Royal Castle is open to the public from twelve to three, as is the Royal Souvenir shop, where you can buy souvenirs from the Royal Castle." I started to laugh. I couldn't help recalling the Dontgonearthe Castle (2) where you could stay overnight, get a tasty meal and tasteful souvenirs, too.
The whole army messing around took an hour, including a few pieces played by the marching band for the pleasure of the tourists so it probably counts also as culture.
Lately, I've been thinking what it is like, to live in a monarchy. Surely, a monarch is trained from childhood to shake hands of fellow potentates in the most socially acceptable way, to get the right attire for the right occasions, to sit for being portrayed on postal stamps (if someone uses them) better than any elected official ever may be. After all, even the most degenerate nobleman manages a language or two and passable table manners with years of care and tutoring. Since in the modern democracies, the head of the state is important mainly for performing various ritual dances, good table manners and using the right fork for the right course are enough; maybe anything else even stands in the way (in places where the president, Commander-in-Chief or Supreme Priest need to sign government documents, it is obviously advisable to teach them how to write their own name). With elected officials, you never know. Maybe they can eat only sandwiches and the concept of silverware is beyond them, they are likely to have hidden agenda and they are rather hard to behead or dethrone otherwise when they are raving mad. Also, bare head looks much worse on stamps than a crowned one.
Of course that I have some vague idea about the functions of the state. After the last few years' political mess, when things worked best in those long months after the general election when there was no goverment, or in days of temporary officials in place of ministers after the government was deposed, it seems to me that the importance of state in general may be a bit overrated. And with the president close to raving mad... Ick.
I'd better go and read something funny.
Added on Saturday, whatsthedate.
I bought a horse-shaped cookie cutter, talked to K. about our glorious traditions of cookies and decorated gingerbread and since K. was to meet W. at the royal castle after that army thing, we went there. We were a bit early so we had a chance to watch the marching band of Royal Navy. The glorious traditions of decorated gingerbread include decorated gingerbread soldier. Nothing said.
I didn't check whether in the Royal Gift Shop, one could get cookie cutters shaped like Princess Victoria but I'll be around for a few more days.
(1) Name obviously invented and if I got it right, it's by mistake.
(2) Terry Pratchett reference again, what would you expect? Check Carpe jugulum for more.