The word 'salute' comes from the Latin word 'salus', which means health and welfare.

Gun salutes

The six official salute days in Sweden are:

  • January 28: HM the King's name day
  • April 30: HM the King's birthday
  • June 6: Sweden's National Day
  • July 14: HRH the Crown Princess's birthday
  • August 8: HM the Queen's name day
  • December 23: HM the Queen's birthday

The 21-gun salute is fired at five-second intervals starting on the stroke of 12pm, (Sundays and public holidays 1:00pm.)

Brief history

The custom of giving salutes on certain salute days, at certain state ceremonies and in international company, dates from the 17th century, when ships fired to empty their cannon to indicate peaceful intentions when approaching a port. This subsequently became a display of honour, a salute. The rules became increasingly strictly regulated according to rank. Salutes were also given as passwords to announce who you were, and have been used as passwords by combat vessels when calling into ports that had salute stations onshore, (a double Swedish password was used if the monarch was on board). Passwords were also fired on land on the battlefield and from military installations such as fortresses.

Rules for salutes

According to international practice, a national 21-gun salute is an official mark of respect given on behalf of the nation on, for example:

  • The National Day
  • Royal occasions, (birthdays and name days of monarchs, birthdays of the heir to the throne, and in the event of births and deaths in the Royal Family)
  • On state occasions, for instance on state visits by foreign dignitaries
  • For visiting heads of state. (In the case of naval visits, the vessel giving the salute fires a 21-gun salute for the guest nation. This salute is then returned with the same number of shots.)

On other occasions

Gun salutes numbering fewer than 21 are made as a mark of respect by a vessel in naval contexts if, for example, an ambassador, a prime minister or high ranking officer comes on board ship.

Honorary rifle salvos may be fired by troops at funeral ceremonies and on memorial days, (for example at the UN Monument on Djurgården in Stockholm on UN Day, October 24).

A Swedish password of two-shots, (or twice the password of 2 x 2 shots), can be fired during other ceremonies. This can sometimes be done on civil occasions, such as at the opening of festivals or even wholly private events.

Salutes are also fired at PhD degree ceremonies, (one shot per doctoral student).