Monday, 31 October 2011
On this date: Carl Johan Bernadotte turns 95
Born on 31 October 1916 he is the youngest of the five children of King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden and his first wife, Crown Princess Margareta, née Princess of Britain. Sadly his mother died when Prince Carl Johan was only 3 ½ years old and he regrets that he has no memories of her.
Prince Carl Johan lost his succession rights and was stripped of his royal titles when he married a commoner, the divorced journalist Kerstin Wijkmark, in 1946. As plain Mr Carl Johan Bernadotte he made a career for himself as a businessman. In 1951 his distant cousin Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg created him, his brother Sigvard and their cousin Lennart counts of Wisborg.
Widowed in 1987, Carl Johan Bernadotte married an old friend, Gunnila Bussler, née Countess Gunnila Wachtmeister of Johannishus, the following year. The couple, who are thus approaching their silver wedding, live in a villa in the hills above the popular summer resort Båstad on the coast of Scania.
Except the oldest, Prince Gustaf Adolf, who was killed in a plane crash at the age of forty in 1947, all the children of Gustaf VI Adolf have, like him, reached a great age. The former Prince Sigvard died in 2002 at the age of 94, while Queen Ingrid of Denmark was ninety when she passed away in 2000 and Prince Bertil nearing his 85th birthday at the time of his death in 1997.
For those who like to keep track of such things it is also noteworthy that Carl Johan Bernadotte is the only surviving great-grandchild of Queen Victoria of Britain. Except for a critical attack of illness some years ago, which was dealt with successfully in hospital, he continues to enjoy rude health for his age.
With the passing of his siblings Carl Johan Bernadotte has come to fill the role as the grand old man of the family and was consequently given a prominent position at the wedding last year of his great-niece Crown Princess Victoria, with whom he shares a fond relationship. In his old age it has also become increasingly clear to many what an asset this warm, generous gentleman would have been to the Swedish monarchy if one had not kicked him out of the royal house 65 years ago.
His plans for the birthday are not known, but on 14 October King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia hosted a private dinner party for him at Drottningholm Palace outside Stockholm. Among the guests were two of the King’s sisters, Princess Christina and Princess Margaretha (the latter herself turns 77 today).