Monday, 25 January 2010

What to see: Prince Oscar Bernadotte’s Family Grave, Solna

Prince Oscar Bernadotte, the second son of King Oscar II and Queen Sophia, lost his status as a member of the Swedish-Norwegian Royal House when he married a commoner, Ebba Munck af Fulkila, in 1888. Therefore he was buried neither in the Bernadotte Mausoleum of the Riddarholmen Church nor at the Royal Burial Ground at Haga, but chose a plot on a hill at the Northern Cemetery in Solna, just outside Stockholm, as the last resting place of himself and his family.
The mausoleum was designed by Gunnar Asplund, one of Sweden’s most famous architects ever and best known for the Woodland Cemetery and the City Library in Stockholm. Above the crypt is a simple “temple” adorned with stone tablets with the names of those who are buried there. Prince Oscar was a month short of his 94th birthday when he died in October 1953, meaning that several other family members were buried there before him, among them his wife, Princess Ebba Bernadotte, who died in 1946.
All their five children are buried in the family grave. Their eldest son, Count Carl Bernadotte af Wisborg, died in 1977. His son Nils, who died at the age of two in 1920, is also buried there, while his first wife Marianne is buried elsewhere with her second husband Marcus Wallenberg. Carl Bernadotte’s second wife, Gerty, who died in 2004, was also interred elsewhere.
Prince Oscar’s youngest son, Count Folke Bernadotte af Wisborg, was assassinated by Israeli terrorists during a UN peace mission to Jerusalem in 1948. His wife Estelle is buried with him rather than with her second husband Carl-Eric Ekstrand, whose grave is also in the Northern Cemetery. Two of their sons are also in the family grave – Frederick, who died at the age of seven months in 1934, and Gustaf, who died at age six in 1936. Also there is their daughter-in-law Rosemarie, who was only 25 when she died a year after marrying their son Bertil.
The first of Prince Oscar and Princess Ebba Bernadotte’s children to die was Baroness Sofia Fleetwood in 1936, aged 44. Her widower Carl-Mårten Fleetwood later remarried and is not buried with her. Unlike Sofia, her sisters lived to a great age: Countess Maria Bernadotte af Wisborg died at 85 in 1974, while the humanitarian and politician Elsa Cedergren was three weeks short of her 103rd birthday when she died in 1996. She was laid to rest next to her husband Hugo Cedergren, who had died 25 years earlier at the age of 80.

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