STOCKHOLM (AP) — Britain's Prince Charles made his first official visit to Sweden on Thursday, nearly 40 years after Carl XVI Gustaf became the country's king.
The king's wife, Queen Silvia, said she was glad to finally play host to Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall.
"It's very nice since Prince Charles during my time, unfortunately, hasn't had the possibility to visit earlier," the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet quoted the queen as saying ahead of his arrival. "But we have a very close contact with the British royal family and so we're very happy about their visit."
In London, a spokeswoman for Charles said the royal families of Britain and Sweden have long had close ties and the prince has privately visited Sweden in the past, but that his official visits to other nations are made at the request of Britain's government. She spoke on customary condition of anonymity.
On Thursday, Sweden's Prince Carl Philip received Charles and Camilla at Arlanda airport in Stockholm, where they landed after a three-day visit to Norway.
At a nearby hangar, Swedish air force officials showed Charles and his wife the Nordic country's Gripen jets, which took part in NATO's air strikes in Libya last year.
Later, they were welcomed by Queen Silvia to the Royal Palace and met with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who accompanied them on a visit to Fryshuset, one of Europe's largest youth centers, located on the southern outskirts of the Swedish capital.
On Friday, Charles and Camilla are to dine with Silvia and King Carl XVI Gustaf, who has been on the throne in Sweden for 39 years. Silvia has been the country's queen for 36 years.
The Prince of Wales, who has an avid interest in architecture, also will visit Sweden's St. Erik's housing site, an award-winning housing development area, with the king. Charles also will participate in a round-table discussion on renewable energy with industrial leaders.
Sweden is the second leg of a Scandinavian tour by the prince and Camilla.
In Norway, their visit was hosted by King Harald and Queen Sonja, and included meetings with Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit.
At the Oslo Nobel Peace Center, the British couple met survivors of last year's Norwegian terror attacks during which right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik gunned down 69 people at a youth camp after killing eight people in a car bomb attack on government buildings in Oslo center.
On Saturday, Charles and Camilla are to begin a three-day visit to Denmark.
Associated Press writer Julia Gronnevet in Oslo contributed to this report.