Today is the centenary of the birth of the late Prince Carl Bernadotte, best remembered as the brother of Crown Princess Märtha of Norway and Queen Astrid of the Belgians and the much-loved “Uncle Mulle” of the Norwegian, Belgian and Luxembourgian royal families.
He was born in the so-called Prince Carl’s Mansion at Djurgården in Stockholm, now the residence of the Spanish ambassador, on 10 January 1911 as the fourth and final child of the 50-year-old Prince Carl and Princess Ingeborg. Thus he was the grandson of the late King Oscar II of Sweden and Norway and of King Frederik VIII of Denmark.
His nephew Flemming, Count of Rosenborg, later said that Princess Ingeborg had made a deal with her lord that if she ever had a son he would be named Samuel. However, Prince Carl disapproved of the suggestion and the baby was eventually named Carl Gustaf Oscar Fredrik Christian. Yet Ingeborg insisted on calling him Samuel and the rest of the family compromised by using the diminutive “Mulle”.
By birth a Royal Highness and Prince of Sweden, Carl Jr was created Duke of Ostrogothia by his uncle Gustaf V, who thus revived the dukedom which had been held by Oscar II until his accession to the throne in 1872.
He was christened at the Royal Palace in Stockholm on 3 March. The politician Hugo Hamilton noted in his diary that the child cried loudly until King Gustaf pinned the Seraphim Order onto him, “then he was satisfied and fell silent”. Fifty years later, on 12 February 1961, he would become one of the few knights of the Seraphim in history to be stripped of the order and lost his other Swedish orders at the same time.
He would also lose his royal titles and his rights of succession to the throne when he married a commoner in 1937, although he – unlike the other Swedish princes who married commoners – received King Gustaf’s consent. He was instead given the title of Prince Bernadotte in the Belgian nobility by his brother-in-law King Léopold III and was thereafter known as Prince Carl Bernadotte until his death in 2003.
The photo shows the young Prince Carl Jr with his doting mother Princess Ingeborg.