Your Majesty Charles XVI Gustave, King of Sweden,Your Majesty the Queen,Mr President Giscard d'Estaing,Ladies and Gentlemen Ambassadors,Madam Secretary of State in charge of the Family,Dear Claude Greff,Mr Grand Chancellor of the Legion of Honour,Mr Prefect,Elected Ladies and Gentlemen,Mr President of the Reunion of National Museums – GrandPalais, Dear Jean-Paul Cluzel,Ladies and Gentlemen Directors,Ladies and Gentlemen Curators,Ladies and Gentlemen,

Your Majesty, it is a real pleasure for us to welcome you with the
Queen Sylvia. Your visit is an opportunity for France to testify to you
once again our esteem and friendship.

I had the honour and joy of receiving, in September of last year,
Royal Highnesses Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, at
the occasion of the bicentenary of Jean-Baptiste’s election to the Swedish throne
Bernadotte. As part of these celebrations, the National
Stockholm had initiated an unprecedented exhibition that the Palace of Compiègne
this fall. Tonight, you do us the great honour, with
Queen Sylvia, to inaugurate this event, on the land of your

Of the very old friendship between France and Sweden, it is customary to say
that it reached its peak in the Enlightenment. Indeed, it was the
the time when Voltaire painted an unforgettable portrait of Charles XII,
the illustrious Linnaeus addressed his work to our Academy of Sciences and
the admiration of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the one where King Gustave
III corresponded in French with Beaumarchais. Our links were more
strengthened by the accession to the throne of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte,
became Charles XIV John of Sweden.

You know better than anyone what Empire Marshal Bernadotte,
Prince of Ponte-Corvo, to the extraordinary destiny, has brought to your
country. The Swedes were able to anticipate in its original personality the
qualities of a statesman, his humanity and his pragmatism. His reign
established the foundations of modern Sweden. Fully dedicated to her country
It is a new political and economic impetus that it will have
given, while re-establishing traditionally strong ties with France
and introducing the principle of neutrality.

If it appears from the chronicles that Bernadotte never came back
in its hometown, the Maison Bernadotte has always kept a
deep attachment to his country of origin and his Béarnaise homeland. In
1872, Queen Josefina, mother of King Charles XV and granddaughter of
Joséphine de Beauharnais, took to visit the house where he was born; the King
Oscar II, in 1892, honored his visit to his grandfather’s town and returned there
many times; King Gustave VI, your grandfather, scholar,
collector, art lover, always showed a keen interest in the city
of Pau and an extreme generosity in favour of the Bernadotte Museum. He
strengthened the friendship between our two countries, as you have done
do it yourself, Your Majesty, today. We know the
ties that unite you to France, the land of your grandfather.

In this exhibition that we are inaugurating today, under the
Patronage of Your Majesty and under that of Mr Nicolas SARKOZY,
President of the French Republic, these are the crossed destinies of three
the Emperor Napoleon I, the Tsar Alexander
I and King Charles XIV John of Sweden. All three were in their time
strategists in foreign relations, reformers in the
conduct of their country, art lovers in the demonstration of their
power. These sovereigns, from the Age of Enlightenment and its ideals,
have literally reshaped Europe and laid the foundations for it,
through their rivalries, through military campaigns and treaties that
led to the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

This event had to come to France, and especially
here. The Palace of Compiègne had in fact welcomed Queen Christine of
Sweden in 1656; Tsar Nicholas II was also received there in 1901. The
chance of history also made that on the evening of May 1, 1814, Alexander, Tsar
of all the Russias and Bernadotte, then crown prince of Sweden,
meet in Compiègne to support the return of the Bourbons, on occasion
a memorable dinner in the presence of Louis XVIII. The episode confers to
this exhibition in these places a particular attraction.

The adventure of imperial France came to an end. Alexander, the Tsar
ideologist, the grandson of Catherine II, is a convinced francophile. Born
by an enthusiastic idealism, he hopes to reform his vast empire, living
under the illusion of being a «republican» monarch. Seeking peace, he
will have to confront and oppose the expansionist strategy of
Napoleon: after the heavy defeats of Austerlitz in 1805 and Friedland
in 1807, he was forced to deal at Tilsit, but had his revenge in 1814
with the entry of his troops in Paris. Welcomed in triumph in the
capital, he will be able to show an astonishing magnanimity towards
Napoleon and spare Paris.

As for Bernadotte, who became by the force of his arms and his
intelligence Marshal of France, his ephemeral diplomatic career the
mena in Vienna and his meeting with Beethoven remains the Sonata to
Kreutzer” and the “Heroic Symphony”. Sidelined after Wagram by
Napoleon, who reproached him for preserving his regiments, he was nevertheless
protected by the presence of his wife, Désirée Clary, who had been the
Napoleon’s first fiancée, whose sister had married Joseph, the
younger Bonaparte’s older brother. Despite his family ties to the
Bonaparte, Bernadotte maintained relations with the French Emperor
complex issues. His distrust of Napoleon gradually led him to
move closer to Russia.

In a Europe now dominated by the Holy Covenant, it is striking
how the French Empire style nevertheless continued to “reign”,
in a sense, over much of northern Europe. The age of
Napoleonic battles were long gone, furniture, art,
however, continued throughout Europe to carry a stylistic memory
which will give birth to the Russian and Swedish Empire styles. The
French know-how, encouraged by architects and decorators
Napoleonics, the famous Percier and Fontaine, will remain predominant
in a Francophile tradition; they will also create
like porphyry vases, symbols of luxury and
the prestige of these Northern European courts. Aesthetic currents
underground circulations that often escape time
short of military campaigns and political foam.

In Sweden, it was Bernadotte who encouraged the spread of the «Empire style»
in the Swedish decorative arts, and Älvdalen’s quarries produced these
luxury items for residences and diplomatic gifts. Â
Petersburg, the acquisition by Alexander I of the collection of
Josephine, at her death in 1814, sounded like a
tribute to the Dowager Empress, the divorcee of the Elysée and the
Malmaison, with an undeniable scent of revenge on Napoleon I.

The presentation of several tables of this set is moreover a
very nice invitation to extend the visit to the Castle of Malmaison, which
will host the second part of the exhibition dedicated to Josephine, Sweden and
Russia. We revisit the princely descendants of Josephine of
Beauharnais with the Romanov dynasty and the reigning family of Sweden, in
through family memories, works from collections of
the Empress, such as the exceptional dessert service created by the
manufacture Dihl and Guerhard for Josephine and her son Eugene, whose
Especially will be seen for the first time in France.

These magnificent testimonies of these Russian and Swedish Empire styles, we
the loans granted by the Hermitage Museum of Saint-
Petersburg, to those of the Swedish national collections and in particular
exceptional loans from Your Majesty’s royal collections.
Originally designed by the Stockholm National Museum which presented it
in the fall of 2010, this exhibition brings together, at the Palais de
Compiègne, nearly one hundred and fifty remarkable works. I care about you
to express our gratitude for agreeing to give us something to see
these incomparable pieces.

«Sovereign Destinies», it is also an exhibition that offered to some suns
great European museums a great opportunity to work
together on a common project. I would like to thank
Solfrid SÖDERLIND, Director General of the Stockholm National Museum,
and congratulations to Magnus OLAUSSON, Director of Collections
and the Swedish National Portrait Gallery, which shared the
exhibition centre. My thanks also go to
Professor Mikhail PIOTROVSKY, Director General of the
St Petersburg Hermitage, as well as Professor George
VILINBAKKOV, Director of Collections.
On the French side, I am very pleased tonight to express my lively
recognition to Emmanuel STARCKY, Director of National Museums
and Domaine de Compiègne et Blérancourt, curator of the exhibition,
and all its employees for the outstanding work
in close collaboration with the teams of the RMN-Grand Palais
which ensured, dear Jean-Paul CLUZEL, the logistics with efficiency. I
Finally welcomes Hélène Meyer’s unwavering commitment and commitment,
curator at the National Museum of the Palace of Compiègne, in
of this great enterprise. All have contributed to this joint work the
invaluable competition of their knowledge, taste and
skills. Their work allowed in record time to transfer and
to adapt this exhibition for France.

I would also like to express my gratitude to all lenders,
public and private, French and foreign, whose generous contribution has
was essential to the completion of this project. I am thinking in particular of
Copenhagen and Hamburg museums, as well as the Louvre Museum,
the Palace of Versailles National Museum, the Army Museum or the
National Library of France.

The support of the highest Swedish Russian and French authorities
allowed this exhibition to be held in France, with the participation
of my department, with the assistance of the General Council of
Oise. It will also have been greatly facilitated by patrons
French and Swedish: I thank the company Moët Hennessy, the company
Swedish airline Vattenfall and Scandinavian Airlines, whose
the presidents, Mr NAVARRE, Mr de MANNEVILLE and
Mr BRATBERG is with us.

I can only wish these two beautiful exhibitions all the success
that they deserve. They display magnificently the image of a Europe
of war and peace which Tolstoy later admirably transmitted to us
the epic breath over which these three monarchs will have exercised their
imprint. They also bear the mark of a collective shock in the face of
the one that made Goethe say, this great
admirer of Napoleon, in a letter to his friend Charles-Frédéric
Reinhard at the time of the Moscow fire: And now we don’t know
not in truth if our faculties of astonishment will measure up to what
these great events impose on us.”

Thank you.