Governor with a PhD from Uppsala
Hello there, Staffan Larsson. You are Governor of the Royal Palaces and have a PhD in Economic Geography from Uppsala University. What does a Governor do?
“The Governor is Head of the Office of the Governor of the Royal Palace, which is responsible for the royal right of disposition. As Head of State, the King has the right of disposition of 11 royal palaces, appurtenant land and a number of properties. My job is to safeguard the King’s interests regarding the use of these properties, as it is the State that ultimately owns them, but the King who has disposition rights. My work also includes the practical management of the parks and forests, some areas of security, IT and some basic services.”
Do you manage public activities as well?
“Yes, both the palaces that are open and the parks belonging to these. We are, for example, responsible for the care and management of the Royal Djurgården, which comprises 15 per cent of the City of Stockholm’s area. In 2016, we had 1.5 million paying visitors to the Royal Palaces – more than the Vasa Museum – so we are one of the top visitor destinations in Sweden. The revenues are important for renovating and re-investing in our cultural heritage and making it available to the public.”
Do you enjoy your job?
“Yes, I love going to work every day. It is a very exciting place to be. You get to meet everyone with an official role in Sweden and state visits from one country after another. There are a lot of official dinners and other events. When I was recruited, they said there weren’t a lot of evening activities, but that wasn’t the case [laughs].”
How were you recruited?
“It is the King himself who appoints his heads of office. I had served in managerial roles in several public agencies for a number of years and was contacted by a recruitment firm that was very secretive. They didn’t say that it was the Royal Court that was the employer, just that the job would involve a lot of properties, lots of people and a lot of diplomacy. And that the employer was neither public nor private.”
How has your education helped in your work?
“I have a good background for the job, in terms of both my education and my experience as a government official. In economic geography, you start with a place and then use methods from various subjects to understand that place. That’s exactly like my work now, with a host of complex issues that come together in a decision. Government officials have a good background for the post. They are very loyal and keen to do a good job, and learn to perform their duties in a humble and considerate way and make carefully deliberated decisions, which I’ve found useful in my work.”