"The Coronation of King Gustav III of Sweeden"
Oil on Canvas - 1782
Carl Gustav Pilo
A few weeks after we returned from the wonderful trip, I was notified that I had been awarded the Nobel Prize of that year for Literature. It was a very great honour, in all ways unexpected.
It was necessary to go to Stockholm. Even while we were on the sea, the old King of Sweden died. We reached the city, snow-white under sun, to find all the world in evening dress, the official mourning, which is curiously impressive. Next afternoon, the prize-winners were taken to be presented to the new King [Gustav V]. Winter darkness in those latitudes falls at three o’clock, and it was snowing. One half of the vast acreage of the Palace sat in darkness, for there lay the dead King’s body. We were conveyed along interminable corridors looking out into black quadrangles, where snow whitened the cloaks of the sentries, the breeches of old-time cannon, and the shotpiles alongside of them. Presently, we reached a living world of more corridors and suites all lighted up, but wrapped in that Court hush which is like no other silence on earth. Then, in a great lit room, the weary-eyed, overworked, new King, saying to each the words appropriate to the occasion. Next, the Queen, in marvellous Mary Queen of Scots mourning, a few words, and the return piloted by soft-footed Court officials through a stillness so deep that one heard the click of the decorations on their uniforms. They said that the last words of the old King had been ‘Don’t let them shut the theatres for me.’ So Stockholm that night went soberly about her pleasures, all dumbed down under the snow.
--Rudyard Kipling, Something of Myself