The head of Sweden’s Armed Forces sings Elvis at Pride

The Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces is getting a lot of attention – after singing an Elvis cover while marching at Stockholm’s Pride parade.

Sweden is the host of this year’s EuroPride festivities, split between the cities of Stockholm and Gothenburg – and many of the country’s institutions have thrown themselves into the celebrations head first.

The Swedish Armed Forces have been prominent in their celebrations of diversity across the festivities, with a powerful campaign reminding people that “We don’t always march straight.”

The head of the Armed Forces, General Micael Bydén, took part in the Pride parade in Stockholm on August 4, with a clip on social media showing him demonstrating a surprising talent.

Marching in front of the military personnel in the parade, the General – who has served with the Air Force in Afghanistan – can be seen singing a cover of Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds.”

The crowd appeared to be thrilled with the moment, though Russian state propaganda outlet Sputnik claims it has “divided the Swedish public.”

The official social media accounts of the Armed Forces recently shared a picture of two soldiers in rainbow camo under the slogan: “We don’t always march straight.”

The caption said: “No matter when or where we march, we always stand up for your right to live the way you want with whoever you want.”

(Swedish Armed Forces)

The Armed Forces planned a number of events for the Pride celebrations, including a performance from the Swedish military band and a display by parachutists carrying rainbow flags.

In its announcement of the event series, the Armed Forces wrote: “We stand up for the values we are tasked with defending.

“The Swedish Armed Forces is an inclusive workplace where we view people’s diversity as a strength.

“We have been proud Pride participants since the turn of the millennium because it is important that we take a stand and show that we will stand up for the equal worth of all people – whatever their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

Dogs are seen at the annual Gay Pride parade in central Stockholm on August 5, 2017. (ERIK SIMANDER/AFP/Getty)

The release added: “We practice for what we know is necessary today, plan for what we know will be required tomorrow, and adapt to the developments we cannot predict.

“We defend Sweden, the country’s interests, our freedoms, and the right to live as we choose.

“Here and now, we are identifying and stopping infringements of these rights on land, in the air, at sea, and online. Because our job is to defend all of the freedoms and rights we enjoy – in the open Sweden we have come to expect.”

A Pride advert from the Swedish Armed Forces

A Pride advert from the Swedish Armed Forces

Naturally, not everyone was happy about the announcement.

One Facebook commenter wrote: “Stop mixing politics and religion in the armed forces. I want you to devote yourself to the mission instead of political indoctrination.”

The Armed Forces clapped back: “The Armed Forces have chosen to participate in Pride to demonstrate that we stand up for our values and protect all people’s equal values and rights.

“To clearly show that we are an inclusive organisation, where everyone is treated with mutual respect.”

Swedish air defence practice (ANDERS WIKLUND/AFP/Getty)

There was plenty of praise for their work too.

Another commenter wrote: “I’m damn proud to be part of the armed forces.

“Their task is to defend Sweden’s laws, ordinances, human rights, the boundaries of the nation, help in disasters, assist in international efforts.

“It is wonderful that the Armed Forces can show new arrivals that the Swedish military is NOT an instrument for brutal violence, as they may think from elsewhere.

“They are an employer who obviously should be on their employees and ensure that they have a healthy working environment where they can feel safe.”

Another commenter added: “We are so lucky in this country. Do people not realise how momentous it is that the armed forces – in most other [places] a hugely conservative organisation – can demonstrate this solidarity with all its citizens? This is not political! It’s equal rights.”