Drottningholm Palace

If you take a close look at Sweden, you’ll see that it consists of many small islands. Especially around the capital of Stockholm. One of these islands, Lovön, is the site of a magnificent palace: Drottningholm Palace. Even today, this is the private residence of the Swedish royal family. But they don’t live there alone…

The history of Drottningholm Palace

Drottningholm Palace was originally built in the late 16th century. Back then it served as a regular summer residence of the Swedish royal court. Drottningholm literally means “Queen’s Inslet”. This name was given to it by John III of Sweden who built it for his beloved wife Queen Catherine Jagiellon in 1580. Before the palace was built there was a royal mansion called Torvesund. In 1661, Drottningholm Palace became the home of the Queen Dowager Regent Hedwig Eleonora a year after her role as queen of Sweden ended. In December that same year, the palace sadly burned down.

Drottningholm Palace - hpgruesen via pixabay
hpgruesen via pixabay

The palace rebuilt

Hedwig Eleonora wanted Drottningholm Palace to rise again. So she engaged the famous architect Nicodemus Tessin the Elder to design and rebuilt it. The reconstruction of the palace began in 1662 and when it was almost finished in 1681, Nicodemus Tessin the Elder died. His son, Nicodemus Tessin the Younger completed his father’s work. During the reconstruction of the Drottningholm Palace, Hedwig Eleonora became the regent for the then underaged King Charles XI of Sweden. By that time, Sweden had grown to be a powerful country, which demanded for an impressive residence located near Stockholm.

Royal summer residence

When Hedwig Eleonora died in 1715, the palace remained the royal summer residence. It stayed that way during the whole 18th century. In 1744, Drottninghimp Palace was given as a gift from King Frederick I to the later Queen of Sweden, Louisa Ulrika of Prussia when she married Adolf Frederick of Sweden who became king in 1751. Louisa Ulrika had the interior altered and she rebuilt the Drottningholm Palace Theatre which had burned down earlier.

jenifoto via iStock
jenifoto via iStock

Drottningholm Palace abandoned

The palace was abandoned during the reign of Charles XIV John of Sweden (who reigned from 1818 to 1844). He thought of it as a symbol of the old dynasty and it was left to decay. The once so impressive buildings were damaged by forces of nature and the majority of the furniture was auctioned off. The gardens, however, were opened to the public during this period and the public gladly took this opportunity for having family picnics here. Oscar I of Sweden started showing interest in the palace, even though he preferred Tullgarn Palace as his summer residence. In 1846, he started to repair the heavily damaged palace. From then on, it was used for public celebrations. His son, Oscar II of Sweden continued his father’s work.

Kevincho Photography via iStock
Kevincho Photography via iStock

Back to its former glory

Both Oscars were criticized though, for modernizing the palace too much. It was not until the reign of Gustav V that Drottningholm Palace and its surroundings were reconstructed to their 18th century appearance. In 1907, a four-year restoration started. After this, the royal court began using it regularly again. Today, the current Swedish royal family call it their primary residence. They live in the west wing of Drottningholm Palace. The other parts are now open to the public. The palace, the palace church, the palace theatre and the Chinese Pavilion along with the Baroque ganden and the English garden were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1991. Queen Silvia and her husband King Carl XVI Gustaf know the palace is haunted, but they have embraced their ghostly housemates as if they were family.

Drottningholm Palace - Holger.Ellgaard via commons.wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0
Holger.Ellgaard via commons.wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0

The ghosts of Drottningholm Palace

Yes, Drottningholm Palace is haunted. The Queen and King have fully accepted their presence. Also, Princess Christina, the King’s sister, acknowledges that there is a lot of energy in the palace. Queen Silvia calls them her small friends for they are very friendly. Let’s zoom in on the two most frequently seen ghosts of Drottningholm Palace.

The Gray Man

The Gray Man is a small man in an old fashioned hooded coat. He has appeared to all the kings of Sweden, except for King Carl XVI Gustaf. Nothing is known about this small ghostly figure, but he has a kind nature.

Drottningholm Palace - Alexander Smolianitski via flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Alexander Smolianitski via flickr CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The White Lady

Drottningholm Palace is also haunted by a White Lady. She is believed to be the spirit of Agnes of Orlanmünde who lived in the 14th century. She wears a white silk dress with a lace collar. The King claims he once felt her presence. The White Lady appears once someone in the palace has died. King Carl felt her when his grandfather, Gustav VI Adolf had died. One of the King’s experienced officers once saw her in the Bernadotte Gallery. The officer was guiding the King and his sister Princess Christina back to their private chambers after they had dinner when he suddenly went into some sort of trance. He later claimed that he had seen a ghost.

More ghosts at the palace

Queen Silvia is convinced that there are more than just two ghosts at the palace. She often hears spooky thumps, but when their origins are checked our, there’s nothing to be seen. Doors open and close by themselves, people sometimes feel strange in particular areas and sometimes furniture is moved around in unoccupied rooms. What an interesting place!

Drottningholm Palace - Steven Lek via commons.wikimedia CC BY-SA 4.0
Steven Lek via commons.wikimedia CC BY-SA 4.0

If you can’t get enough of ghost stories of haunted places in Europe, please also check these out!

Cover photo: pxfuel
Sources: Wikipedia, kungligaslotten.se, ancient-origins.net, bbc.com/news and royalcentral.co.uk
Address: 178 93 Drottninghilm, Sweden

Continue Reading