Swedish Queen Silvia officially opened the World Equestrian Festival CHIO in the German imperial city of Aachen, accompanied by King Carl Gustaf and Danish Princess Benedikte. Some 41,000 spectators saw and heard the queen on Wednesday evening deliver her opening speech in her native German. She was interrupted several times by a warm applause from the stands. “I know the public here in Aachen is very special”, the queen remarked.
Sweden is this year's partner country for the great equestrian event, often described as the 'Wimbledon of the equestrian sport'. Sweden put on a great show during the opening ceremony, which was not hampered by the rain at the start which forced the royal couple, which arrived in an open carriage specially brought over from the Royal Mews in Stockholm, to shelter under a giant umbrella.
There was an unexpected tribute to King and Queen too. As ABBA's 'Dancing Queen' was played during the opening show, reference was made to the song's origins – it was first played for the wedding of Carl Gustaf and Silvia in June 1976 – and to the royal couple 40th wedding anniversary only a few weeks ago. The crowd again burst out in a thunderous applause, and Queen Silvia and King Carl Gustaf acknowledged the tribute by standing up and waving, with the queen squeezing her husband's hand afterwards.
During the week long Festival special attention will be given not only to Sweden but also to Queen Silvia's World Childhood Foundation – much to the queen's pleasure. © RB