Exhibition | 13.03. - 03.10.2021

The Royals are coming

Exhibition

The list of royal visitors to Switzerland is long – and equally impressive: Emperor Wilhelm II, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Queen Elizabeth, Astrid, Queen of the Belgians, and Queen Victoria. These are some of the many crowned heads who have visited Switzerland. Their reasons for doing are so as varied as their backgrounds. Whether for a state visit, rest and recreation, or even exile, crowned heads have long favoured Switzerland as a destination.

Visiting royalty all share one thing in common: they give rise to a sense of great excitement among the Swiss, thousands of whom line the streets to cheer royal visitors on their way. A royal visit will dominate the news for days on end.

Between 13 March and 3 October 2021, an exhibition called The Royals Are Coming! at the Forum of Swiss History Schwyz reflects the diversity of royal visitors to Switzerland and features fascinating stories and impressive mementos of their time here.

Today still, traces of royal visits are found all over. Queen Victoria’s holiday inspired the names of steamships, squares, and hotels, for instance, while the Astrid Chapel reminds us of the young Queen of the Belgians who lost her life in a tragic car accident at Küssnacht.

Guided tours and events

Th 29.7.2021

11:15 – 12:00 Uhr

Guided tour

The Royals are coming

Th 5.8.2021

11:15 – 12:00 Uhr

Guided tour

The Royals are coming

Th 12.8.2021

11:15 – 12:00 Uhr

Guided tour

The Royals are coming

Th 19.8.2021

11:15 – 12:00 Uhr

Guided tour

The Royals are coming

Th 26.8.2021

11:15 – 12:00 Uhr

Guided tour

The Royals are coming

Th 2.9.2021

11:15 – 12:00 Uhr

Guided tour

The Royals are coming

Th 9.9.2021

11:15 – 12:00 Uhr

Guided tour

The Royals are coming

Th 16.9.2021

11:15 – 12:00 Uhr

Guided tour

The Royals are coming

We offer various guided tours of the exhibition for companies, institutions, associations or private groups.
Please contact us for further advice.

For tours and independent group visits please contact the museum two weeks in advance.

Information Forum Schwyz

+41 41 819 60 11 ForumSchwyz@nationalmuseum.ch

Articles on the blog

Michael van Orsouw

12. March 2021

Cheering for the blue-bloods

Switzerland has played host to sovereigns such as Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Victoria, Sisi and many others – and huge crowds have always turned out to greet these royal personages.

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Michael van Orsouw

11. March 2021

Unlucky prince

In 1988, Prince Charles of England was caught in an avalanche in Klosters. While he got away with a shock, his friend died in the snow. The accident had drastic consequences.

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Michael van Orsouw

31. July 2019

The Rütli fan

Ludwig II, King of Bavaria, was a fan of William Tell. In the 19th century, he even wanted to buy the Rütli and build a castle on it.

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All blog posts

Media

The Royals are coming

Forum of Swiss History Schwyz | 13.3.2021 - 3.10.2021
published on 11.3.2021

Members of royal families have visited Switzerland for centuries - from Emperor Napoleon III, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, Queen Victoria, Emperor Wilhelm II to Astrid, Queen of the Belgians, and Queen Elizabeth. Their visits are now the subject of an exhibition at the Forum of Swiss History Schwyz «The Royals are coming» runs from 13 March to 3 October 2021.

For all that, they have no royal traditions of their own - or perhaps because of that - the democratically minded Swiss do like a good story about foreign royals. News of visiting royalty spreads like wildfire, and thousands of people line the streets to catch a glimpse of blue-blooded celebrities.

Drawn to Switzerland
The reasons why crowned heads come to Switzerland are as varied as their individual backgrounds: it might be a state visit from Greece, Ethiopia, or Thailand; rest and recreation for British or Danish royals; or even French emperors with cause to flee abroad. Royal visitors from around the world have long favoured Switzerland as a destination. «The Royals are coming» examines the experiences of royal visitors to Switzerland, and presents rare mementos of their trips. Whether in the form of maps of the Swiss military manoeuvres observed by Emperor Wilhelm II, the evening gown worn by the Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the journal entries she made, or even a strand of hair from a lion’s mane plucked from the dress helmet of Emperor Haile Selassie. All these and more allow visitors to the exhibition to immerse themselves in the fascinating world of the royals who have been drawn to Switzerland.

Media in the spotlight
A special focus of the exhibition is on the role of the media, and particularly the tabloid press, in how royal visits are portrayed. Astrid, Queen of the Belgians serves as an example of media hype. Word of her death aged only 30 in a Swiss road accident spread within no time, and it dominated the news headlines. A year later, a commemorative chapel was inaugurated at the scene of the crash.

Queen Victoria offers a further illustration of how monarchs have left traces behind them in Switzerland. Her month-long holiday in 1868 launched British tourism in Switzerland – and led to a spate of “christenings” in her honour, including the SS Victoria on Lake Lucerne, the Victoria Hall in Geneva, the Hotel Victoria Jungfrau at Interlaken, and the Viktoriaplatz in Lucerne.

Throne of royal wishes
A special highlight awaits visitors as they reach the end of the exhibition. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a monarch yourself? What would your first official act be? What laws would you enact? What experience would you want above all else? Meeting another crowned head, perhaps, or the president of a particular country? Or would you want to live in a huge palace with lots of staff to satisfy your every need? In our «Chamber of Royal Wishes», visitors can place a crown on their head and give free rein to their royal fantasies.

Images

Description

Entry to the exhibition

© Swiss National Museum

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View of the exhibition on the theme «Switzerland as holiday destination»

© Museo nazionale svizzero

Description

Watercolours by Queen Victoria painted in Central Switzerland in the summer of 1868

© Swiss National Museum

Description

View to the theme of the military manoeuvres of Kaiser Wilhelm II at Kirchberg SG dated 1912

© Swiss National Museum

© Swiss National Museum

Description

Early media frenzy about the death of Queen Astrid in Küssnacht am Rigi

© Swiss National Museum

Description

Part of the front windscreen of Queen Astrid of Belgium’s crashed car, 29 August 1935

© Swiss National Museum

Description

Throne framed with portraits of the royal visitors to Switzerland

© Swiss National Museum

Description

Visual of the exhibition «The Royals are coming»

© Swiss National Museum

Forum Schwyz press contact

+41 41 819 60 11 medien.fsg@nationalmuseum.ch