Gustaf VI Adolf was the king of Sweden from 1950 to 1973. He was married twice. His first wife was Princess Margaret of Connaught, but she died in 1920. His second wife was Louise Mountbatten. Louise was with him when they were on the state visit to Finland in May 1952. He was almost 70 years old during the visit. He is the grandfather of the current king of Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf.
King Gustaf VI Adolf and president Paasikivi outside the Helsinki Cathedral. (Photographer unknown, Kungligt besök i Helsingfors 1952, Svenska Odlingens Vänner i Helsinge, CC B.Y. 4.0 erkännande.)
It was no ordinary visit to Helsinki. Gustaf VI Adolf was on a state visit from Saturday 24th of May to Monday 26th of May 1952. The royal couple arrived in Helsinki onboard the cruiser Göta Lejon and they were welcomed by large crowds of people. The state visit was unique because it was the first state visit in Finland since the 1930s. The then president of Finland Juho Kusti Paasikivi and his wife Allina hosted the royal couple. On Saturday the 24th of May Gustaf and Louise visited (together with the president and his wife) hero graves and marshal Mannerheim’s grave in Hietaniemi. On Sunday the 25th of May the king visited the University of Helsinki. In his speech at the university, he emphasized the importance of free research and that scholars should try to look outside of the box. On the last day (26th of May) the royal couple visited the Children’s Castle (Barnets borg in Swedish, Lastenlinna in Finnish), where they had a party with the war children, who had been in Ulriksdal in Sweden during the war.
King Gustaf VI Adolf walks with president Paasikivi towards Helsinki Cathedral. Queen Louise Mountbatten follows them from behind. (Photographer unknown, Kungligt besök i Helsingfors 1952, Svenska Odlingens Vänner i Helsinge, CC B.Y. 4.0 erkännande.)
It is interesting to know that the first state visit in Finland since the 1930s was in 1952 by king Gustaf VI Adolf. But why write about it? As mentioned, I found the photos in the Hertonäs picture archives. There are eight 6 x 9 cm photos that depict the visit. One of them shows the king with Paasikivi outside Helsinki Cathedral and another one shows the royal couple walking toward Helsinki Cathedral with the president. Two of the photos are of the king and the queen. The rest of the photos show the personnel at a building somewhere in Helsinki and a man in a car. When I researched this, I stumbled upon a video on YouTube that shows the visit in Helsinki 1952. The link to the video is at the end of the blog.
King Gustaf VI Adolf and queen Louise Mountbatten. (Photographer unknown, Kungligt besök i Helsingfors 1952, Svenska Odlingens Vänner i Helsinge, CC B.Y. 4.0 erkännande.)
The photos tell a lesser-known history of Helsinki and Finland you don’t think about. But how did the photos end up in Hertonäs? The photos were donated by a Saga Träskman in 1989. She donated the photos together with other objects. As mentioned, the photos have no detailed description, and the identity of the photographer is unknown. It is likely that Saga or her relative/friend was in Helsinki during the visit and took the photos of the royal couple. Photos of the king’s visit were not the only ones that Saga donated. There were also over 30 photos that depicted a course in housewifery in the 1940s somewhere in Finland. The photos were interesting, and I would like to know more about them. But due to the lack of closer description most of the photos remain a mystery to me.
Karl Heikkilä’s historical internship at Hertonäs Manor Museum is financed by the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland.
Älmeberg, Roger 2017: Gustaf VI Adolf: Regenten som räddade monarkin. Stockholm.
Gustaf VI Adolf på statsbesök till Finland 1952, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oOvXoAqRlA