Crews began setting up their huge white, portable TV studios outside of the royal palace on Monday. The massive structures were perched on top of the hill just a couple hundred feet of cobblestone away from the wooden doors of the old royal chapel. That is where Princess Estelle will be baptized on Tuesday. Estelle is second in the line of succession after her mother.
Over 400 guests will be attending the ceremony. Royal families from several countries, and also politicians, business leaders, and, of course, friends and family will be there. Authorities also expect thousands of fans to gather outside of the royal chapel during the ceremony.
Around 400 Swedish and international journalists will be covering the baptism. Anders Jörle at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs says the baptism is a big event, but not as big as the royal wedding two years ago. “The royal family has decided to keep a rather silent profile on this event,” he says.
Silent or not, it seems like the media at least, wants to provide the masses with all of the details. Newspaper pages are exploding today with maps, routes, timetables, and schedules. They have the baptismal weather forecast, of course. It is going to be around 20 degrees Celsius and comfortable. But they suggest bringing a rain jacket, because there is a chance of some light showers.
The Foreign Ministry says the christening means a great deal for Sweden. Put simply, it is good PR. “The picture that we want to send to the outer world is the picture of a modern country built upon old institutions”, says Jörle.
The baptism will be drenched in tradition. Baby Estelle will likely wear a 106-year old-dress. And the silver basin holding the holy water is old, from the end of the 16th century.
But Sweden wants to spin the modern aspect. So what is modern about a millennium old tradition? It will be televised and you can watch it online streaming – that is modern.
Another new, modern touch is the chance for non-royal people to get baptized like a royal. We have all heard of drop-in hair cut appointments, so why not drop-in baptisms?
“We thought it would be a good idea to give people this opportunity on May 22nd when the little princess is baptized. Also, other little princesses and princes could have the opportunity to get baptized,” says Bo Larsson, the chairman of the Stockholm diocese.
Larsson says four ministers are armed with holy water and ready at the St. James Church just across the water from the Royal Palace.
For those people who are interested in Royal events, the traditional juicy details will surely be filtered down.
But what will remain unknown long after the royal baptism is over, is if Princess Estelle really will be the future Queen of Sweden. That is because, according to a Gothenburg University poll, 19 percent of Swedes want to abolish the monarchy.
By Gabriel Stein