500th Anniversary of the Life Guards and the Army

On 14 January 1521, sixteen men from the county of Dalarna were selected to guard the life of the future king, Gustav Eriksson Vasa. They followed him during the liberation struggle against the Danes, and when Gustav Vasa was made king, the life guards were deployed to guard the castle. These life guards are the origin of the current Life Guards.

Wreath laying ceremony at the Life Guards’ former regimental church, the Gustaf Adolf church in Stockholm. Photo: Svante Rinalder/Swedish Armed Forces
The ceremony to mark the 500th Anniversary was carried out at the Gustaf Adolf church in Stockholm. Here is one of the regiment’s historical memorial stones. The gold inscription tells of the sacrifices made by the regimental staff throughout history; many of which lost their lives in order to protect Sweden, in many cases in battle, under the direct command of the king. Photo: Svante Rinalder/Swedish Armed Forces
Commander of the Life Guards, Colonel Stefan Nacksten, gave a speech to mark the anniversary of the Life Guards in the Gustaf Adolf park. This is a place of great importance to the Life Guards, as the Gustaf Adolf church, in part, was paid for and built by personnel in the Life Guards as well as being home to one of the regiment’s memorial stones. Photo: Svante Rinalder/Swedish Armed Forces

Today, the Life Guards regiment is one of the largest units of the Swedish Armed Forces; a unit trained for many different tasks – everything from live operations, training conscript soldiers, mission training to defence music. However, the Life Guards are best known for their soldiers in blue uniforms that still guard the royal palaces.

The anniversary was celebrated in a corona-safe manner, by a wreath laying ceremony at the former regimental Gustaf Adolf church in Stockholm. A ceremony was also carried out in the town of Mora in Dalarna County, where the Life Guards originated. The Mora ceremony was attended by the Army Chief as well as parts of the Life Guards’ music corps.

During 2021, the jubilee will be highlighted by a variety of activities, adapted to the current pandemic and in line with the guidelines and recommendations of the Public Health Agency and the Armed Forces.

“In the anniversary year we will look back on the long history of the Life Guards and celebrate together. We will look back in order to be able to look forward. We need to know where our journey began, as we are now on our way to develop a new army organisation. And we have already come a long way”, says Colonel Stefan Nacksten, Commander of the Life Guards.