After six wonderful years in Britain my term as ambassador has come to an end. It has been a great honour to represent Sweden in the UK and I am very grateful to the Swedish community as well as to the British people for having been so supportive. It has been a most interesting time politically, economically as well as culturally and there have been many golden moments throughout my stay. I will always remember celebrating the 2012 Olympics and the Paralympics. Both games were a triumph in terms of planning and organization and offered fantastic entertainment that exceeded my wildest expectations. Another memorable event was the beautiful wedding of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine Middleton of Berkshire. It was an unforgettable experience to attend the magnificent ceremony inside Westminster Abbey. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was a landmark celebration that once again showed that Britain is outstanding in pomp and circumstance.
During my time in Britain I have had a very close and fruitful collaboration with the Swedish business community. There are more than 1000 Swedish companies represented in the UK which are responsible for creating 100,000 UK jobs. There has been an impressive amount of company growth in the past few years. One of the more striking examples is Handelsbanken that has gone from 100 branches to more than 200 in just a few years in the UK. Scania has opened up two new depots during the last year. This summer IKEA opened up a long-awaited store in Reading. Volvo Car Group is about to begin testing their autonomous driving vehicle next year on roads around London. The creative industries unite talented Swedish and British people and I have seen exciting business ventures emerge in a diverse set of industries such as fashion, food and music.
Sweden is the third-largest music exporter in the world behind the US and the UK. Hosting the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm was a fantastic opportunity to showcase Swedish music industry. The Eurovision Song Contest is the biggest TV entertainment show in the world with more than 200 million viewers. This year the contest was broadcast in the US for the first time. During this spring I presented a documentary on Eurovision for the BBC World Service. The programme “The Swedish Ambassador’s Guide to Eurovision” focused on explaining why the contest is not only about pop, but also very much about politics. I am a patient optimist and firmly believe that the UK will win the Eurovision Song Contest in the next five years and that would finally bring the contest back to the UK after more than 20 years..
During the last year the UK referendum on the European Union dominated the political scene. The European cooperation has so much to offer when we work together as a decisive force in the global arena to promote security, democracy and prosperity.
However, the British people voted to leave the EU and we now face major uncertainty.
During my six years in the UK I have greatly appreciated the excellent cooperation between the embassy and the Chamber, Business Sweden, Visit Sweden in London: After an extensive renovation of the embassy we are now co-located in our own “Sweden House”. This close cooperation has been absolutely critical in organizing many successful events. I would also like to thank the Swedish church for all its tremendous support to the embassy and the Swedish community.
What better way to depart than to welcome Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Britain. He has had a fantastic start playing for Manchester United and there is more to come. I will fondly remember the many wonderful people that I have met during my time in the UK and I am certain that our paths will cross again.