STOCKHOLM: Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf rounded off his 50th anniversary on the throne with a ride in an opulent carriage and a lively anniversary concert on Saturday after several days of festivities.

The king rode through the centre of Stockholm together with Queen Silvia in the carriage, as thousands of people lined the route, reported dpa news agency.

They then attended a concert featuring hits from throughout his reign, with songs by Abba right through to the work that won Sweden the Eurovision Song Contest (ESC).

The actual anniversary of Carl Gustaf’s accession was Friday, when he became king 50 years earlier at the age of 27.

Inexperienced and awkward at first, over the years he came to be respected and appreciated by the people.

Today, he is the longest-serving monarch in Swedish history and one of the longest-serving officials in the world.

The popularity of the royal family was mainly due to Silvia Sommerlath, born in Heidelberg, Germany, whom Carl Gustaf met at the 1972 Olympics in Munich and married four years later.

The King showed how much she means to him at a celebratory anniversary banquet on Friday evening. “I could never have had a better companion in life,“ he said, addressing the queen.

Others at the banquet had warm words for him, too. “Your Majesty, dear Dad, you have been Sweden’s King for 50 years. Almost as long you have been my father - and always a role model,“ said his eldest daughter Crown Princess Victoria, who will eventually succeed him on the throne. “You are a constant, a security - for me and also for many others.”

While the heads of state of the other Nordic states paid their respects to Carl Gustaf on Friday, Saturday was the day that the Swedish people celebrated their monarch. - Bernama

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