Following her confirmation yesterday that Princess Lilian will not attend the royal wedding in two weeks, Court Marshal Elisabeth Palmstierna in Aftonbladet today (external link) also confirms that the 94-year-old princess suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.
The first time I heard about her memory starting to fail her was in September 2003, but with certain restraints Princess Lilian remained on the public stage until April 2008, when her physical frailty was also far advanced.
The Royal Court has until now been unwilling to say anything about the Princess’s condition, except a few years ago when she told a journalist that she did not know that she was not to attend the Nobel banquet that year. The court then glossed it over by saying that she had become “somewhat forgetful” in old age.
Today Baroness Palmstierna tells Aftonbladet: “Lilian has Alzheimer’s and cannot attend [the wedding]”. She adds: “According to doctors Lilian has Alzheimer’s and she is not doing particularly well”. “Lilian is very tired and will not be present at the wedding. She is old and frail”, says the Court Marshal, who is herself 93.
Princess Lilian, a poor girl from Wales who, in what amounted to one of the great love stories of the 20th century, waited 33 years to marry Prince Bertil is dearly loved by the other members of the Swedish royal family and Crown Princess Victoria is known to be very fond of her great-aunt. Known for her timeless style, her mischievous sense of humour and her charm matched by an unique royal dignity, Princess Lilian has become a favourite royal of many, including me.
The photo, by an unknown photographer, shows her aged 30 as a struggling actress and model in London.