Greta Garbo as Queen Christina of Sweden, surrounded by her court, in Rouben Mamoulian’s 1933 film Queen Christina
Bulstrode Whitelocke, Oliver Cromwell’s ambassador to Sweden, sends home an account of the abdication by Queen Christina on 5th June 1654:
“About nine o’clock this morning the Queen, being attired in her royal apparel and robes of purple velvet, with her crown upon her head, and attended by all her officers and servants, came into the room prepared for that occasion, where was set a table with a rich carpet, and five great cushions laid upon it. Most of the grandees and officers were present. Upon one of the cushions was laid the sword of state; upon the second cushion was laid the sceptre; upon the third cushion was laid the ball; and upon the fourth cushion were laid the keys. The Queen being come into the room, after a little pause made a short speech to the company, to this effect: ‘My Lords and Gentlemen, You have before this time been acquainted with my resolution to resign the crown and government of this kingdom into the hands of my most dear cousin the Prince [Charles Gustavus]…’
Having thus spoken, the Queen desired that some of them would take the crown from off her head, but none would do it; she then called to Grave Tott and the Baron Steinberg, expressly commanding them to do it, but they refused, till again earnestly commanded by her; they then took the crown from off her Majesty’s head, and laid it down upon the fifth cushion on the table. After that was done, some others, by her command, took off the royal robes with which she was clothed and laid them down upon the table. Then the Queen, having thus divested herself of these ensigns of royalty and resigned her crown, being now in her private habit, made courtesy to the Prince and to the rest of the company, and retired into her own chamber.”
The Queen left Sweden, converting to Roman Catholicism the following year and eventually settling in Rome.
After the defeat of Waterloo, Napoleon abdicates (for the second time) on 22nd June 1815. Count Lavallette, his private secretary, recalls in his memoirs:
“I came to [the Emperor] without having the least doubt in my mind that the only thing he could…