Vasaorden – A Swedish Royal Row Boat

When Crown Princess Victoria married Daniel Westling in 2010 they were rowed to the Royal Castle in the Royal Barge Vasaorden. Photo: Wikipedia/Atlantic Chef – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

13 May 2023

By Göran R Buckhorn

A week ago, Tim Koch published an article about the Coronation of King Charles III. Tim wrote that Charles as Prince did not row despite that he studied at Trinity College, Cambridge. Instead, Tim pointed out the three Nordic Kings, King Frederik IX of Denmark, Olav V of Norway and his son, now King Harald V of Norway, did row. Sweden’s present King, Carl XVI Gustaf, did not row, though his father, Prince Gustaf Adolf rowed at the boarding school Lundsberg.

While Carl XVI Gustaf has not pulled an oar, he has at least been rowed on the Stockholm waterways in the beautiful Royal Barge Vasaorden. The barge was originally constructed in 1774 based on ships plans by Fredrik Henrik af Chapman. The 18.6 metres (61 ft) long and 3.2 metres (10.5 ft) wide vessel was first used in 1774 for the wedding of Prince Karl (Charles) and Princess Hedvig Elisabeth Charlotte of Holstein-Gottorp by the Prince’s brother, King Gustav III. Vasaorden was destroyed in a fire at a naval yard in Stockholm 1921. However, two years later, an exact replica of the 1774 barge was launched.

Vasaorden has been used for ceremonies, state visits and royal weddings. It was used in 1976 when King Carl XVI Gustaf married Silvia Sommerlath, and when their daughter, Crown Princess Victoria, in 2010 married Daniel Westling, who, on the day of their marriage, was made Prince of Sweden.

Vasaorden has also welcomed foreign dignitaries and royalties. In 1956, Vasaorden rowed out on The Stream of Stockholm to the HMY Britannia to row Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip to the steps of the Royal Castle where King Gustaf VI Adolf and Queen Louise waited.

King Gustaf VI Adolf greeting Queen Elizabeth while Queen Louise, great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria and sister of Lord Mountbatten, is welcoming her nephew Prince Philip.

In 1897, Chulalongkorn, King of Siam, visited King Oscar II of Sweden. King Chulalongkorn was rowed in Vasaorden to the Royal Castle. This was a historic event as it was the first time anything was filmed in Sweden. Watch the 12-second film here.

Vasaorden has nine pairs of oars and a crew of 18 (+ 1 spare) rowers and three officers.


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