At noon today, the funeral of Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern, who died on 2 March, took place in the Church of Our Saviour at the Hedingen Monastery in Sigmaringen, his family sepulchre. King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden were among the mourners at their brother-in-law’s funeral. Among the guests were also Prince Carl Philip, Princess Désirée and Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld, Princess Christina, Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia, Margrave Maxmilian and Margravine Valerie of Baden, and Prince Andreas of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.
As I happen to be in Stockholm, I had the chance to watch the ceremonial observed on the day of the funeral of a Knight of the Order of the Seraphim, Sweden’s highest honour. At 11.55 a.m., his Seraphim coat of arms was carried from the Royal Palace to the former royal burial church at Riddarholmen, escorted by grenadiers.
In the former church, the coat of arm was placed on a table at the entrance to the chancel together with two candles, a bouquet of flowers and a photo of the late Prince. An official of the Order Chancellery gave a short speech (in German) recording the vita of Prince Johann Georg, two pieces of music were performed by an army band and the bells tolled for an hour.
Prince Johann Georg was made a Knight of the Seraphim by King Gustaf VI Adolf on 23 May 1961, two days before his civil marriage to the King’s granddaughter, Princess Birgitta. Although the princely branch of the House of Hohenzollern had not been sovereign since 1849, King Gustaf Adolf chose to treat his granddaughter’s marriage on the same level as if she had married a prince of a reigning house, i.e. making the groom and his nearest male relatives Knights of the Seraphim.
After the order was founded in 1748, there were for a long time very few Swedish princesses. Princess Sophia Albertina, the daughter of King Adolf Fredrik, and Princess Eugénie, the daughter of King Oscar I, remained unmarried, and it was indeed only in 1869 that a princess married, namely Lovisa, the daughter of King Carl XV.
Lovisa married Crown Prince Frederik (VIII) of Denmark, who had already received the Order of the Seraphim in 1862. His father, King Christian IX, was also already a knight since 1848 and his younger brother, King Georgios I of the Hellenes, since the previous year, but King Carl gave the order to his uncle, Prince Hans of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg.
The next Swedish Princess to marry was Margaretha, who wed Prince Axel of Denmark in May 1919. The groom received the order on the occasion of the engagement, while his father Prince Valdemar had received it in 1875 and his elder brother Prince Aage in 1913.
When Margaretha’s youngest sister, Princess Astrid, became engaged to Prince Léopold, the heir to the Belgian throne in September 1926, he received the Seraphim, while his brother Prince Charles received it two days before the civil wedding on 4 November 1926. Their father, King Albert I of the Belgians, had been made a knight in 1910, but received the collar two days before the civil wedding.
When Princess Märtha married Crown Prince Olav of Norway in March 1929, there was however no presentation of orders. The groom himself had received it when attending the wedding of Princess Astrid and Prince Léopold, while his father, King Haakon VII, had received it back in 1893, when he was still Prince Carl of Denmark and called on his great-uncle Oscar II.
Crown Prince Frederik (IX) of Denmark, who married Princess Ingrid in 1935, was also already a knight (since 1917), while his father had received the Seraphim in 1888 and his younger brother Knud also as a guest at the 1926 wedding. The groom’s maternal uncle, ex-Grand Duke Friedrich Franz IV of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, was however made a Knight of the Seraphim three days before the wedding.
When Prince Johann Georg married Princess Birgitta, King Gustaf VI Adolf gave the Seraphim not only to him but also to his older brother, Hereditary Prince Friedrich Wilhelm. Their father, Prince (Fürst) Friedrich, had received the Order in 1936, but was given the collar on the same days as his two eldest sons were made knights.s
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