The Crown Princess Couple visit Lithuania

On Friday 16 February, The Crown Princess Couple visited Lithuania to attend the celebrations marking the centenary of the restoration the country's independence in 1918. The Crown Princess Couple attended the official ceremonies in Vilnius. 16 February is Lithuania's national day.

The day in Vilnius began at the Presidential Palace, where The Crown Princess Couple were welcomed by President Dalia Grybauskaitė.

A ceremony was then held at which the flags of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were raised, after which 100 church bells were rung simultaneously all across Lithuania.

Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaitė during the celebrations in Vilnius. Photo: Zygimantas Gedvila

The Presidential Palace
The history of the Presidential Palace dates back to the end of the 14th century, when Lithuania converted to Christianity and the building became the residence of Vilnius' first bishop. Over the course of the following centuries, the palace suffered repeated fires, war and other incidents. After Lithuania became part of the Russian Empire, the palace temporarily became the home of the tsar and subsequently the residence of the Russian governor general.

In 1920, before the Vilnius region was taken over by Poland, the palace was the headquarters of the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ELTA news agency. After the Second World War, the palace served as the home of the local Soviet officers' corps. The building became the Presidential Palace in 1997.

During The Crown Princess Couple's meeting with President Dalia Grybauskaitė. Photo: Zygimantas Gedvila/TT

A Catholic mass was then held in Vilnius Cathedral, led by Archbishop Gintaras Grusas.

This was followed by lunch at the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, hosted by President Dalia Grybauskaitė, after which The Crown Princess Couple and the president held a meeting.

During a tour of the excavations in the basement of the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania. The palace enjoyed its golden age around 400 years ago. Photo: royalcourt.se

The Crown Princess Couple's day in Vilnius concluded at the Swedish Ambassador's official residence. Here, the Swedish delegation met with Lithuania's Minister of Education and Science Jurgita Petrauskienė, pupils and staff from Vilnius Vytautas Magnus Upper Secondary School and Swedish Embassy staff to commemorate the work being carried out by Sweden and Lithuania to achieve the UN's global sustainable development goals within the framework of Agenda 2030.

The Crown Princess opened the Swedish Institute's new exhibition about the progress that has been made to achieve the UN's global sustainable development goals. The Crown Princess gave a speech, in which she emphasised the importance of cooperation between the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea – how the sea links these nations together, and how they need to work together to save it. She also mentioned the historic links and the fact that the day's event offered opportunities to reflect on the nations surrounding the Baltic Sea, both now and in the future.

The Crown Princess Couple then had the opportunity to speak with young Lithuanian people about their views of the future, with a focus on the sustainable development goals.

The Crown Princess Couple with pupils and staff from Vilnius Vytautas Magnus Upper Secondary School, Lithuania's ambassador to Sweden, Algimantas Rimkunas, and Sweden's ambassador in Lithuania, Maria Christina Lundqvist. Photo: royalcourt.se

During 2018, the Swedish Embassy is focusing on Agenda 2030, looking ahead and taking Lithuania's centenary as a starting point. At the beginning of the year, Swedish minister Anna Ekström and Lithuania's Minister of Education and Science launched the Swedish Embassy's essay writing competition for upper secondary school pupils, with a focus on the UN's global sustainable development goals. The launch took place at Vytautas Magnus Upper Secondary School, with the involvement of the school's staff and pupils. The essays will be published in a printed book.

The ceremonies were broadcast on TV, and were also shown on squares and streets in Vilnius. Photo: royalcourt.se

The centenary of the Baltic States

2018 marks one hundred years since Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania declared their independence, and this anniversary will be celebrated during the year. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – just like Finland – became national states following the disintegration of the Russian Empire in 1917-18.

The Crown Princess Couple will also attend celebrations in Latvia on Friday 27 April and in Estonia on Sunday 19 August.

The most recent state visits to the Baltic States were to Lithuania in October 2015opens in new window, to Latvia in March 2014opens in new window and to Estonia in 1992.