Thursday, 31 May 2012

King and Queen celebrate 75th birthdays

Today the King and Queen are celebrating their 75th birthdays - the King turned 75 on 21 February, while the Queen will reach her milestone on 4 July, but the official celebrations take place today. This time there is no palace ball or cruise for European royals, but rather events meant to involve the general public.
Earlier today the King and Queen received the Speaker of Parliament, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries who came to the Palace to offer their congratulations, and in between these deputations His Majesty the King’s Guard performed their famous tattoo in the Palace Square, with the royal family watching from the balcony. The King and Queen were joined by the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, Princess Ingrid Alexandra, Prince Sverre Magnus, the Crown Princess’s son Marius Borg Høiby, Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn with their daughters Maud, Leah and Emma Behn, Princess Astrid and Johan Martin Ferner, and the Queen’s sole surviving sibling, 90-year-old Haakon Haraldsen, with his wife Liss.
There were particularly many kindergardens in the crowd, and, in a modern-day version of “let them eat cake”, the courtiers were sent out into the crowds ahead of the tattoo to distribute more than 3,000 buns and drinks to the children (and afterwards to pick up the litter from those kindergardens where it is apparently not taught that litter is not to be dropped at the ground where you stand). After the tattoo, the Mayor of Oslo, Fabian Stang, led the crowd in singing the birthday song, while Princess Ingrid Alexandra conducting them from the balcony.
Later in the day there was a service of thanksgivings in the Cathedral, and right now the royal family are attending an open air concert on the roof of the Opera House.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Prince Carl Philip renounces Galliera inheritance

Svenska Dagbladet reports that Prince Carl Philip of Sweden has agreed to let the Galliera inheritance, which consists of an exquisite art collection and a financial fund, pass to his sister Crown Princess Victoria, although the Prince would be the legal inheritor according to the terms laid down by Emperor Napoléon I of the French.
The art collection contains some sixty Italian works and are among the jewels of the Swedish royal collection. Piero di Cosimo’s “Madonna with Child” is widely considered the greatest masterpiece of the collection, while the financial fund was worth millions already at the time of the death of King Gustaf VI Adolf in 1973.
The reason why Prince Carl Philip rather than his elder sister has, until now, been heir to the Galliera inheritance, is that this is an entail governed by male primogeniture.
The Duchy of Galliera, which lies in the province of Bologna, was bestowed by Napoléon I, Emperor of the French and King of Italy, upon the eldest child of his adopted son, Prince Eugène, Viceroy of Italy, on 14 May 1913. The child, named Joséphine after her paternal grandmother the Empress, also held the title Princess of Bologna, which had been given her shortly after her birth in 1807. After the fall of Napoléon, his adoptive granddaughter retained possession of her duchy, but never visited it. In 1823 she married Crown Prince Oscar of Sweden and of Norway, but as the income from the Duchy was considered too low and it lay unpractically far away from Sweden, she eventually decided to sell it. Finding a buyer took a decade, but in 1837 the Duchy was sold to Marquis Raffaele de Ferrari, who was created Duke of Galliera by Pope Gregory XVI the following year.
Works of art and furniture from the Ducal Palace in Galliera were transferred to Sweden, and in her will, drawn up on 6 June 1876, the day before her death, Dowager Queen Josephina confirmed that the collection and the money from the sale should be inherited undivided by the eldest son of each generation.
As her two eldest sons had already died, this meant that the inheritance passed to her third son, King Oscar II, from him to King Gustaf V and then to King Gustaf VI Adolf. As his eldest son had predeceased him, the Galliera inheritance passed to his grandson Carl XVI Gustaf in 1973. However, when the Act of Succession was amended in 1980, King Carl Gustaf’s eldest child, Victoria, replaced her younger brother Carl Philip as heir to the throne, which, until now, has meant that the Galliera inheritance would have split from the main royal line.
(It could be added that the title Duke of Galliera still exists. The widow of Raffaele de Ferrari, whose name lives on in the Musée Galliera, her Parisian mansion which is now a museum of fashion, bequeathed the Italian properties to Prince Antoine, Duke of Montpensier, son of King Louis-Philippe I of the French and a Prince (Infante) of Spain by his marriage to the sister of Queen Isabel II of Spain. Following the death of the Dowager Duchess in 1888, Antoine was also created Duke of Galliera by King Umberto I of Italy. The current and fifth Duke of Galliera is his great-great-grandson Don Alfonso de Orleans-Borbón y Ferrara-Pignatelli).

Friday, 25 May 2012

Official photos from Princess Estelle’s christening

Today the official photos from the christening of Princess Estelle of Sweden three days ago were finally published. Photo credit is Bruno Ehrs/the Swedish royal court.
Princess Estelle with her parents and godparents. From the left Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, Anna Westling Söderström, Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, Crown Princess Mary of Denmark and Crown Prince Haakon of Norway.
The succession to the throne: King Carl XVI Gustaf, Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Estelle.
Princess Estelle and her parents.
Princess Estelle with her parents and grandparents: King Carl XVI Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Ewa Westling and Olle Westling.
The King and his granddaughter.

State funeral held for war hero Gunnar Sønsteby

At noon today the state funeral of Gunnar Sønsteby, widely considered the ultimate war hero, was held in the Cathedral of a sweltering Oslo. Sønsteby died on 10 May, aged 94.
The Cathedral was not quite full, but in addition to family, friends and fellow war veterans there were many VIPs to be seen. The King was on the first row, together with Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn, Princess Astrid and Johan Martin Ferner (both with newly acquired walking sticks), and Princess Ragnhild’s husband Erling Lorentzen, accompanied by his eldest daughter, Ingeborg Lorentzen Ribeiro. Lorentzen was one of Sønsteby’s closest friends, a fellow veteran of the elite resistance group Company Linge, chose him as his best man in 1953 and later set up a company with him. Lorentzen, who is 89, had travelled all the way from Brazil to bid farewell to his friend. Almost the entire Cabinet was also in attendance, as well as most living former defence ministers.
The Dean, Olav Dag Hauge, officiated, and there were eulogies by the Speaker of Parliament, Dag Terje Andersen, the Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, the Chief of Defence, General Harald Sunde, and two of Sønsteby’s grandchildren. Six guardsmen from His Majesty the King’s Guard formed a guard of honour at the sides of the coffin, which was draped in the Norwegian flag, while another 24 guardsmen (Sønsteby’s most famous code name was “No 24”) formed a guard of honour outside the Cathedral.
At the end of the service the coffin was carried out of the Cathedral by six officers and as it was placed in the hearse, four fighter planes flew past above in the so-called “Missing Man” formation, which pays tribute to the dead. Despite her eighty years and somewhat weak legs, Princess Astrid curtseyed to the ground as the hearse departed, accompanied by a mounted police escort.
The funeral was followed by a reception in the City Hall.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Princess Estelle’s arms and monogram published

On the occasion of her christening today, the Swedish royal court has published the arms and the monogram of Princess Estelle. Both have been designed by Vladimir A. Sagerlund and approved by King Carl Gustaf.
The monogram is, obviously, an E surmounted by a princely crown, while the arms are the same as those of Crown Princess Victoria, with two exceptions: the third quarter shows the arms of Ostrogothia, of which province Princess Estelle is Duchess, rather than those of Westrogothia, which has the Crown Princess as its Duchess, and Princess Estelle has a princely crown rather than the crown princely crown which forms part of her mother’s arm.

Oscar II’s princely crown and Order of Seraphim for Princess Estelle

In little over an hour the christening of Princess Estelle of Sweden will take place in the Palace Church in Stockholm. Already in place next to the magnificent silver baptismal font is the crown which symbolises the Princess’s royal rank, a tradition which goes back to the christening of the future King Gustaf IV Adolf in 1778.
Very unusually, Sweden has crown not only for the King and Queen, but also for the Crown Prince and for princes and princesses. The first princely crowns were made for the 1772 coronation of Gustaf III, but as the royal family grew, new crowns had to be acquired up until 1902. Princess Estelle is direct heir to the throne, but not first in line, so the crown used today is not the crown princely crown, as when the then Crown Prince Carl Philip was baptised in 1979, but Oscar II’s princely crown. This crown was made by court jeweller Marc Giron for the then Prince Oscar to be worn at the coronation of his parents, King Oscar I and Queen Josephina, in 1844. At the time Prince Oscar was Duke of Ostrogothia, the same dukedom which was bestowed on Princess Estelle the day after her birth.
Also placed on a blue velvet cushion next to the font is the Order of Seraphim, which Princess Estelle will be given today. This signifies a return to the tradition whereby princes in the line of succession were given the royal orders at their christening.
However, when the new Constitution was introduced in 1974, the award of orders to Swedish citizens, including the royal family, was banned. This remained in force until 1995, when an exception were made for members of the royal family, and meant that no orders were given at the christenings of King Carl Gustaf’s children.

Monday, 21 May 2012

New books: Swedish royal births and christenings

On the occasion of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden’s wedding two years ago Lena Rangström, senior curator at the Royal Armoury, published a book on the weddings of Swedish monarchs since the sixteenth century. Now she has followed this up with a book on royal births and christenings, Kanonsalut och vaggor – Kungliga födslar och dop, published by Carlssons Bokförlag to coincide with the birth and christening of the Crown Princess’s first child, Princess Estelle.
I was quite critical of her book on weddings and am happy to say that her new book is much more satisfactory. Indeed the author has managed to avoid most of those weaknesses which spoilt her previous book.
The wedding book was chronologically arranged, allocating each wedding a chapter of its own and losing itself in endless tedious details. This book, on the contrary, is arranged thematically, which makes it far more readable and gives the author the opportunity to draw the long lines, show the development of traditions and identify when and how traditions changed (and this, rather than the accumulation of facts, is what history is really about). This time the book is not only more to the point, but there is also a useful chapter summing up the book’s findings.
There is no clearly defined timeframe to this book, but most of it deals with the Palatine, Holstein-Gottorp and Bernadotte dynasties (there were no children born to the short-lived House of Hesse). The author explores the ceremonial related to royal births and christenings, baby clothes, christening robes, wet-nurses, cradles, orders, regalia and the choice of names.
As a Norwegian historian I am naturally pleased to note that Rangström this time mostly remembers that the Bernadottes were also kings of Norway for nearly a century and that there were therefore Norwegian concerns to be taken into consideration.
The illustrations are many and well chosen and thus in themselves form part of the book’s attraction. Apart from some factual mistakes (for instance, 11 November 1882 is twice given as the date of Gustaf VI Adolf’s christening, although it was in fact his birthday) the greatest weaknesses of this book are the absence of some information of interest which Rangström would have found had she delved deeper into the source material, and that the author looks only at the main line of the royal family.
By excluding the junior branches she misses out on some developments which lead her to wrong conclusions. For instance, she states that Crown Princess Margareta was the first royal mother to attend her children’s christening, but overlooks the fact that Princess Ingeborg had done so some years earlier. She also wrongly states that Crown Princess Margareta was the first royal mother to breastfeed her children, which Queen Sophia had also done, although briefly, two generations earlier.
Thus, when Rangström reaches the concluding chapter, she ascribes too much importance to Crown Princess Margareta, whom she identifies as some sort of watershed as Margareta, unlike previous generations, gave birth in private, was the first royal mother to breastfeed her children and to attend their christenings, and (in 1910) the first to hold her own child at the font. But two of these four examples are in fact wrong, making Rangström’s assessment of Margareta seem somewhat overrated.
But despite these reservations, Kanonsalut och vaggor is a useful introduction to the traditions related to Swedish royal births and christenings and seems able to appeal to a wide readership.

Norway abolishes state church

By two constitutional amendments today, the state church was abolished by the Norwegian Parliament, putting an end to a 475-year-old institution. The Church of Norway, as the official name is, will from now on be one religion among many in this mostly secularised country, but will continue to enjoy some privileges.
Norway was christianised between 995 and 1030, and the rich and powerful church, led by the Archbishop, was for centuries an important powerbroker who often opposed the King. This ended with the reformation of 1536-1537, which joined state and church, an arrangement which continued after Norway won its independence 198 years ago. Today a sizeable majority of Norwegians are members of the Church of Norway, but few believe in the biblical teachings and even fewer attend church.
The Constitution now says that the Church of Norway is a “people’s church” and that the Norwegian society is founded upon the “Christian and humanist heritage”. It will no longer be necessary for a certain percentage of cabinet members to belong to the Church of Norway, but there will still be a constitutional requirement for the King to do so (this was the personal wish of the current King, who by expressing this wish made an unusual political intervention). Bishops and provosts will no longer be appointed by the King in Council (i.e. the government), but by the Church of Norway itself. However, the state will still fund the Church of Norway, so that members will not have to pay. Priests will for the foreseeable future remain state employees, but this will most likely change in the coming years.
Rather hilariously, a group of Christians opposed to the constitutional changes have started something called “Everything for the king - Protect the Christian constitution”, whose aim is to make the King refuse to sanction the constitutional amendments. These people are apparently blissfully unaware of the rather well-known fact that constitutional changes do not require the royal assent.

Guests for Princess Estelle’s christening

The christening of Princess Estelle of Sweden will take place in the Palace Church in Stockholm tomorrow, and today the royal court released a list (external link) of the official guests who will be present.
Princess Estelle and her parents Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel will obviously be present and they will be joined by King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine, whereas Princess Lilian, at 96, is too ill to attend. The King’s four sisters - Princesses Margaretha, Birgitta, Désirée and Christina will also be present, but only the latter will be accompanied by her husband, Tord Magnuson.
Princess Birgitta will bring her daughter and son-in-law, Désirée and Eckbert von Bohlen und Halbach, while Princess Désirée will be accompanied by her three children and their partners - Baron Carl and Baroness Maria Silfverschiöld, Baroness Christina and Baron Hans De Geer af Finspång, and Baroness Hélène Silfverschiöld and Fredrik Diterle - as well as her grandson, Baron Ian De Geer af Finspång. Princess Christina’s three sons, Gustaf, Oscar and Victor Magnuson, will bring their respective partners, Vicky Andrén, Emma Magnuson and Frida Bergström.
Also in attendance will be Countess Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg, the widow of the King’s eldest uncle Sigvard, and Countess Gunnila Bernadotte af Wisborg, the widow of the King’s youngest uncle, Carl Johan, who was also expected to be present, but who sadly died on 5 May. From the extended Bernadotte family we will also see Count Bertil Bernadotte af Wisborg and his wife Jill. The Count, who is a close friend of King Carl Gustaf, is a grandson of the late Prince Oscar Bernadotte, and the youngest son of the late Countess Estelle Bernadotte af Wisborg, who is believed to have inspired the name. His elder brother, Count Folke Bernadotte af Wisborg, and his wife Christine, were also invited to the christening, but after initially accepting their invitations they have had to send their regrets due to illness. Their cousin Dagmar von Arbin, who is 96, will however be in attendance.
The only foreign heads of state present will be the Queen of Denmark and the new President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, the latter accompanied by his wife Jenni Haukio. Queen Margrethe will be accompanied by Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary, while Crown Prince Haakon, Princess Märtha Louise and Ari Behn will represent Norway (the Crown Princess has prior engagements in the USA and is thus unable to attend).
The three Benelux countries will all be represented by their heirs with partners: Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde of Belgium, Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, and Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume of Luxembourg and his fiancée Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy. The other European royal families will not be present, while the President of Iceland, who is fighting a re-election campaing (after having initially announced that he would not stand for re-election he is now trailing in the polls), will be represented by his wife Dorrit Moussaieff.
From Queen Silvia’s family we will see her two surviving brothers, Ralf de Toledo Sommerlath and Walther L. Sommerlath, the former accompanied by his wife Charlotte, as well as the Queen’s nephew Thomas de Toledo Sommerlath and Bettina Aussems, her nice Carmita Sommerlath Baudinet and Pierre Baudinet, her nephew Patrick Sommerlath and Maline Sommerlath, and her great-nephew Leopold Lundén Sommerlath.
Prince Daniel’s family will also be out in force, led by his parents Olle and Ewa Westling, and his sister Anna Westling Söderström with her husband Mikael Westling Söderström, her daughters Hedvig and Vera Blom and her stepchildren Casper and Caisa Söderström. Many aunts, uncles and cousins of Prince Daniel will also be present: Olle and Anita Henriksson, Tommy Henriksson, Hans and Marika Henriksson, Nils and Ann-Catrin Westling, Sara Westling and Benji Bessemer, Frida Westling and Rickard Pettersson, Andreas Westling and Amanda Tegnér, Hasse and Anna-Britta Åström, Hans Åström and Helena Olsson, Anders Åström and Kety Lund, Anna-Karin Åström and Christer Wigren, Erik and Birgitta Westling, Ove and Yvonne Westling, and Bo and Carina Westling.
The rest of the list consists of present and past speakers of Parliament and prime ministers as well as other official representatives. Guests attending in a private capacity have not been included, but the court has confirmed that Prince Carl Philip’s girlfriend Sofia Hellqvist and Princess Madeleine’s boyfriend Chris O'Neill will be present.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

HH Princess Athena Marguerite Françoise Marie of Denmark

At 5 p.m. today the daughter of Prince Joachim and Princess Marie of Denmark, who was born on 24 January, was christened in Møgeltønder Church in the small town of the same name in the south of Denmark. In accordance with Danish royal traditions it was only at the christening that it was revealed that her name is Athena Marguerite Françoise Marie.
While the Danes are very traditional when it comes to the name of the heir to the throne (the kings are always named either Christian or Frederik) they tend to be quite creative concerning names for junior princes and princesses. Marguerite seems to be in honour of the Princess’s paternal grandmother, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, while Françoise is for her maternal grandmother Françoise Grassiot and Marie for her mother.
The christening was performed by Royal Chaplain Erik Norman Svendsen, former Bishop of Copenhagen. The sponsors were two of Princess Marie’s half-brothers, Gregory Grandet (son of her mother) and Edouard Cavallier (son of her father), Carina Axelsson (who is the partner of Prince Joachim’s cousin, Prince Gustav of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg), Julie Mirabaud, Diego de Lavandeyra and Henriette Steenstrup.
Apart from Princess Athena and her parents, the royals and relatives of the royal family present were the Queen and Prince Consort of Denmark, Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary with their two eldest children Christian and Isabella, Princess Athena’s half-brothers Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix, her brother Prince Henrik, Count Ingolf and Countess Sussie of Rosenborg, Prince Gustav of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Carina Axelsson, Prince Christian and Princess Lena of Schaumburg-Lippe, Michael and Désirée Iuel (née Princess of Schaumburg-Lippe), Count Valdemar of Rosenborg (grandson of Prince Erik), Countess Marina of Rosenborg (granddaughter of Prince Erik) and Portus Ekman, and Erik Vind (grandson of Prince Erik) and his wife Susanne.
From Princess Marie’s family came her father Alain Cavallier and his partner Marielle Dubern, her mother Françoise Grassiot with her husband Christian Grassiot, Charles Cavallier, Edouard Cavallier, Gregory Grandet, Jerome Grassiot and his wife, Jennifer Shorto, Benjamin Grandet and Nina Arichi.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Monarchs of the world gather in Britain

As part of her diamond jubilee, Queen Elizabeth II of Britain hosted a lunch at Windsor Castle which saw a very impressive line-up of her fellow monarchs - indeed no fewer than eighteen of the world’s thirty monarchs were present. In addition, several lesser ranking royals represented some of those monarchs who were not present for the lunch and the British Queen had also invited some long-deposed monarchs, who were, rather bizzarely, included, and even given pride of place, in the official photo of the assembled monarchs.
The existing European monarchies were represented by the Queen and Prince Consort of Denmark, the King and Queen of Sweden, the Queen of the Netherlands, the Sovereign Prince of Liechtenstein, the King and Queen of Norway, the King and Queen of the Belgians, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, and the Sovereign Prince and Princess of Monaco. The King of Spain was absent due to his recovery following his recent hunting accident, while the Queen of Spain, who had been due to attend, stayed away because of disagreements over Gibraltar. The monarchs of the Principality of Andorra and the Vatican were not present.
From the Middle East came the King of Bahrain and his wife Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, whose presence has been the cause of much controversy, the King and Queen of Jordan, Sheikh Nasser Mohamed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait, the Emir of Qatar and his wife Sheikha Mozah, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Prince Mohammed Bin Nawaf Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia.
All three African monarchies were represented; Morocco by Princess Meryem, Lesotho by King Letsie III and Queen Masenate, and Swaziland by King Mswati III and the third of his thirteen wives, Inkhosikati LaMbikiza. From Asia came the Emperor and Empress of Japan, the Sultan of Brunei and his senior wife Queen Saleha, the King and Queen of Malaysia and the Crown Prince and Princess Srirasm of Thailand. Tonga, the only monarchy of Oceania which does not have Elizabeth II as its monarch, was represented by its new King, Tupou VI, and Queen Nanasipauʻu.
The ex-kings of Bulgaria, Greece and Romania were also in attendance, the former two accompanied by their wives, the latter by his daughter Margarita. The ex-Crown Prince of Yugoslavia/Serbia and his wife were also present.
Apart from Queen Elizabeth herself, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Henry, the Duke of York, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, Prince and Princess Michael, and Princess Alexandra were the British royals present, which gives a total of 62 royals attending.
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, as well as the Princess Royal, were absent due to other commitments, but the Prince of Wales and his wife will tonight host a dinner at Buckingham Palace, at which Queen Elizabeth herself will not be present. Tomorrow Lady Elizabeth Anson, a great-niece of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother of Britain and stepdaughter of the late Prince Georg of Denmark, will host another lunch, where the monarchs and their representatives will be joined by several junior royals and relatives not present today.

At the road’s end: Ingvald M. Smith-Kielland (1919-2012), former Lord Chamberlain

An announcement in Aftenposten today tells us of the death of the courtier and officer Ingvald M. Smith-Kielland, who served both King Olav and, briefly, King Harald as Lord Chamberlain, i.e. head of the royal court.
Born on 20 September 1919, Ingvald Mareno Smith-Kielland was a veteran of World War II and eventually reached the rank of major in the army. At one stage he served as an equerry to the King and he became Court Marshal in 1966.
He was appointed Lord Chamberlain in 1985, and as such followed in the footsteps of his father, Ingvald Marillus Emil Smith-Kielland, who had served as Lord Chamberlain to King Haakon VII from 1955 to his death in 1957 and to King Olav V from 1955 to 1966.
As an officer of the army he was typical of the court of King Olav, which was recruited almost exclusively from the armed forces. As Lord Chamberlain, Smith-Kielland worked very closely with the King on a daily basis. Their last meeting took place on 17 January 1991, the very day of King Olav’s death.
Four days later Smith-Kielland carried the crown on a velvet cushion as King Olav’s coffin was brought to the Palace Chapel for the lying-in-state. He also walked at the head of the funeral procession on 30 January 1991.
When King Harald V appointed his new court, Smith-Kielland was retired and replaced by Kaare Langlete. He was awarded the very rare honour of the Grand Cross of the Order of St Olav. Among his other decorations were the War Medal and the Legion of Honour (Grand Officer).
He died on 9 May and the funeral has, according to the death announcement, already taken place privately. He was 92.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

King and Princess Astrid to attend war hero’s funeral

It has been announced that the King and Princess Astrid will attend the state funeral of the war hero Gunnar Sønsteby, who died on 10 May at the age of 94. The funeral will take place in the Cathedral of Oslo at noon on 25 May.
Princess Ragnhild’s husband Erling S. Lorentzen, who worked with Sønsteby in the resistance during World War II and counted him among his best friends, recently said to a newspaper that he is not certain if he will come to the funeral, as this is no longer entirely up to him (the couple live in Brazil, he is 89 and his wife is now quite frail).
Erling Lorentzen has, however, written an obituary of his friend, which appeared in Aftenposten yesterday.

P.S. It has now (22 May) been confirmed that the King and Princess Astrid will be joined by Princess Märtha Louise, Ari Behn (who interviewed Sønsteby for Forsvarets Forum a few years ago), Johan Martin Ferner and Erling S. Lorentzen.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Carl Johan Bernadotte laid to rest

Following a private memorial service in the Palace Church in Stockholm and a cortege through the capital today, Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg, by birth Prince of Sweden, who died on 5 May at the age of 95, was laid to rest at the Royal Burial Ground at Haga in Solna just outside Stockholm.
Most of those family members who were present at the funeral service in Båstad yesterday were also present today, with the Prince Consort of Denmark and the ex-Queen of the Hellenes among the exceptions. Among those who were not present yesterday but took part in today’s ceremony were Princess Madeleine, Princess Birgitta, Princess Christina’s husband Tord Magnuson, the deceased’s sister-in-law Countess Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg, his nephew Count Michael Bernadotte af Wisborg, and the three siblings Dagmar von Arbin, Count Oscar Bernadotte af Wisborg and Catharina Nilert, who are second cousins of the late Carl Johan Bernadotte and first cousins of his wife Gunnila.

Monday, 14 May 2012

On this date: A centenary and a golden wedding

Today is the centenary of the death of King Frederik VIII of Denmark on 14 May 1912, an unfortunate monarch who is mostly remembered for little but the manner of his death. The King was staying overnight in Hamburg on his way back to Denmark from a private journey abroad, when he collapsed and died during an incognito evening stroll through Hamburg’s red light district, sparking many rumours about the circumstances of his death and final hours.
His death was only the last of the misfortunes which had come to put their mark on the life and legacy of Frederik VIII. His father, the arch-conservative antidemocrat Christian IX, lived to ripe old age and staunchly refused his liberal son, known as “the eternal crown prince”, any say in the affairs of state.
Following the bitter political struggles of Christian IX’s reign, the introduction of parliamentarianism was supposed to be the great reform of Frederik VIII’s reign. That this change of political system eventually occurred in 1901, before Frederik’s accession, meant that he was deprived of what seemed certain to be his great political legacy.
Among the unfortunate episodes of Frederik VIII’s brief reign were also the grand reception accorded to what turned out to be a faux “conqueror of the North Pole” and the so-called Alberti scandal, when a leading cabinet minister turned himself in to the police, having embezzled enormous sums from the state coffers.
Upon his death after only six years on the throne, Frederik VIII was succeeded by his eldest son, who was proclaimed King Christian X from the balcony of his mansion at Amalienborg the following day (the third Christiansborg Palace being, at that time, still unfinished after the fire of 1884 which left the second Christiansborg in ruins).
King Frederik VIII died on the same day as the great Swedish author August Strindberg, whose centenary is commemorated in many ways throughout this year.

Today is also the golden wedding anniversary of the King and Queen of Spain. However, the royal court made it clear well in advance that there would be no celebrations of the anniversary (because Queen Sofía has a memory like an elephant, Politiken joked…). Princess Sofia of Greece, the eldest child of King Pavlós I and Queen Frederika of the Hellenes, married Prince Juan Carlos of Spain in Athens on 14 May 1962. At the time the Spanish royal family was dispossessed, while the Greek royal family was still on the throne; a situation which before long would be turned around.

Carl Johan Bernadotte’s funeral has taken place

At 11 a.m. today the funeral of Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg, by birth Prince of Sweden, who died on 5 May, aged 95, was held in the Maria Church in Båstad.
The private funeral service was attended by some 400 mourners, led by his widow, Countess Gunnila Bernadotte af Wisborg, his children, Christian Bernadotte and Countess Monica Bonde af Björnö, the King and Queen of Sweden and the Queen and Prince Consort of Denmark. Among the other family members present were Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, Prince Carl Philip, Princess Margaretha, Princess Désirée and her son Baron Carl Silfverschiöld, Princess Christina, Princess Benedikte of Denmark and ex-Queen Anne-Marie of the Hellenes.
The coffin was draped in the flag of the Principality of Pontecorvo, over which the deceased’s ancestor Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, the future King Carl XIV Johan of Sweden and of Norway, reigned as Sovereign Prince from 1806 to 1810. Count Carl Johan was presented with the flag some years ago when he reinaugurated the quay in Helsingborg where his great-great-great-grandfather first stepped ashore in 1810 and was very proud of owning such a rare flag.
Later today his coffin will be taken to Stockholm, where a private memorial service will be held in the Palace Church at noon tomorrow. At this service the family will also be joined by Princess Madeleine, who is now on her way from New York, where she lives.
After the service of thanksgiving, the funeral cortege will depart the Royal Palace at 12.35 and go by way of Slottsbacken, Slottskajen, Norrbro, Gustaf Adolfs torg, Regeringsgatan, Hamngatan, Sveavägen and Norrtull to the Haga Park, where the late Count will be laid to rest in the Royal Burial Ground.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

At the road’s end: Gunnar Sønsteby (1918-2012), Norway’s greatest war hero

One could almost hear the sound of the biggest tree in the forest crashing to the ground when the news came through this afternoon of the death at the age of 94 of Gunnar Sønsteby, a national icon and the ultimate war hero. One of the bravest of the resistance fighters of World War II, Sønsteby dedicated his old age to bearing witness to younger generations and was widely considered this country’s greatest hero.
He was born on 11 January 1918 and was working as an accountant when war came to Norway. He is generally believed to be the young man with the bike standing in the foreground of the famous photo of the citizens of Oslo passively watching the German troops march down Karl Johan Street on 9 April 1940.
But Sønsteby did not remain inactive long. He took part in the fighting outside Oslo that spring and soon joined the illegal press as well as acting as courier for between Norway and Sweden. He was recruited by the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) and became something of a spider in the network of resistance groups. From the spring of 1944 he led the so-called Oslo Gang, which carried out crucial acts of sabotage against the occupants and where described by the British historian William Mackenzie as “the best group of saboteurs in Europe”.
Gunnar Sønsteby often said that he believed his ability to get away had something to do with how ordinary he looked. It was only towards the end of the war that the Gestapo finally succeeding in revealing his true identity. “No 24”, “Erling Fjeld” and “Kjakan” were among the cover names he went by; the latter eventually becoming the name under which he was known to all Norwegians.
During the war King Haakon instituted the War Cross, which ranks as Norway’s highest decoration (above even the Grand Cross and Collar of the Order of St Olav) and which is awarded for exceptional gallantry during war. Gunnar Sønsteby was alone in being awarded the War Cross three times, making him the most decorated citizen of this country. He also held a multitude of other Norwegian and foreign honours.
In the summer of 1945 Gunnar Sønsteby led the group of resistance fighters who took care of the royal family’s security upon their return to Norway. When one of his men, Erling S. Lorentzen, eventually married Princess Ragnhild in 1953, Sønsteby acted as best man at the wedding.
Following the war Gunnar Sønsteby worked as a businessman. After he reached the age of retirement he began a new career as a travelling time witness. Unlike so many of his friends and fellow resistance fighters, he had lived to tell the tale and was determined to do so. Until he was well past ninety he toured this country from one end to another and back, talking about his wartime experiences, but also the values of democracy. He was known for his ability to hold groups of unruly teenagers completely spellbound. For this voluntary work he was created a Commander of the Order of St Olav by the King in 2006.
Gunnar Sønsteby also wrote several books and contributed to many other works. He was, however, occasionally criticised by revisionist historians for holding too firmly on to the “official” war history, i.e. the one most agreeable to the war veterans. Sønsteby himself maintained that there were many secrets he would take with him to his grave.
Sønsteby could regularly be seen in the streets of Oslo (he was a slow driver and a fast walker) until last autumn, when his health began to give way. At the end of April it was announced that Sønsteby would be the first recipient of the new decoration the Military Cross of Honour. But on Liberation Day two days ago, Sønsteby was absent from the ceremonies at Akershus Fortress; nor did he attend the unveiling of a statue of himself in his hometown Rjukan the same day.
His death had hardly been announced before the first flowers were laid at the feet of the statue of him erected a few years ago in Oslo’s Solli Square, while tributes were led by the King and the Prime Minister. The government has decided to give him a state funeral.
On a personal note I remember meeting him in the Bird Room of the Royal Palace while we were both waiting for an audience with the King. “Sønsteby”, he said, extending his hand – obviously an entirely unnecessary introduction of himself. His physical presence was small, but his legend filled the room.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

King Carl Gustaf to attend uncle’s funeral

The Swedish royal court has now confirmed that King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, and Prince Carl Philip will all attend the funeral of the King’s uncle, Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg, by birth Prince of Sweden, which will be held in Båstad Church at 11 a.m. on Monday. Only Princess Madeleine, who lives in New York, will not attend.
Meanwhile the death announcement for Carl Johan Bernadotte is carried in today’s edition of his local newspaper Helsingborgs Dagblad.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Queen presents new book on the royal residences

Earlier today I attended a small reception at Oscarshall Palace, where the Queen presented a new book on the royal residences, Kongens hus – Alle kongeparets hjem. The unusual presence of the Queen at a book launch was due to the fact that she is among the authors of this book, which presents the twelve homes available to the King and Queen. While the art historians Thomas Thiis-Evensen and Ole Rikard Høisæther have written most of the texts on the various residences, the Queen has contributed introductory chapters about each of the royal homes. The photographer Espen Grønli has taken the many excellent photos to be found in this volume.
All the royal homes have soul, the Queen said, but when pressed to point out one in particular she landed on Bygdøy Royal Manor, the eighteenth century manor house which, following a thorough restoration a few years ago, now serves at the King and Queen’s summer house and was also much loved by King Haakon, Queen Maud and King Olav.
At the book launch the Queen stressed the importance of preserving the cultural heritage the royal residences represent. The preservation and restoration of several of the royal residences have been a priority for the King and Queen and will surely rank high among the things they will be remembered for.
As such this book is also a historical document. It will be a record for posterity of what the royal residences were like in the reign of King Harald V and Queen Sonja, but supposedly it can also be seen as some sort of justification in that it shows what the restoration money have been spent on.
The book presents not only the state-owned residences, but also the royal couple’s privately owned properties – and official rooms as well as the private royal quarters. The Queen admitted that she had been somewhat in doubt about where to draw the line between the official and private sphere, but to me the result seems intimate without being intrusive.
This is the second book published by Orfeus Publishing about the royal heritage this year. The first was Arv og tradisjon, which presents the Royal Collection and accompanies the exhibitions which are the government’s 75th birthday presents to the King and Queen. A third book in what may perhaps be considered a series will be out in little over a month, this time about the Queen’s art.

Carl Johan Bernadotte’s funeral to take place on 14 May

It has been confirmed that the funeral of Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg, by birth Prince of Sweden, who died on Saturday night at the age of 95, will take place in the Maria Church in Båstad at 11 a.m. on 14 May. His coffin will then be taken to the Palace Church in Stockholm, where a memorial service will be held the next day. Thereafter the Count will be interred at the Royal Burial Ground in the Haga Park just outside Stockholm.
A new grave will be created for him in the Royal Burial Ground, where his second wife Gunnila will one day also be laid to rest. This means that he will not rest alongside his first wife Kerstin, who was buried in Båstad following her death in 1987, but close to his parents and his three brothers.
Both King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia and Prince Daniel have official engagements in Stockholm on 14 May, and according to the court it has not yet been decided if the King will attend the funeral in Båstad. However, the court says that the royal family will be represented in Båstad. The Queen of Denmark is scheduled to receive the retiring ambassador of Vietnam in Copenhagen on the day of the funeral, but I would suppose this will be rescheduled to make it possible for her to attend the funeral of her uncle.

Monday, 7 May 2012

At the road’s end: Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg (1916-2012), by birth Prince of Sweden

The old guard is passing out. Well into the second decade of the twenty-first century we see the passings of the last of those royals who saw the light of day before that great watershed for European monarchies that was 1918.
Yesterday came the sad news of the death at Ängelholm Hospital at 9 p.m. on Friday, after a short illness, of Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg, by birth Prince of Sweden, uncle of the King of Sweden and the Queen of Denmark, last surviving great-grandchild of Queen Victoria of Britain and the last of his royal generation in Scandinavia. He was 95 and had been scheduled to attend the christening of Princess Estelle in Stockholm on the 22nd of this month.
Born at the Royal Palace in Stockholm on 31 October 1916, His Royal Highness Prince Carl Johan Arthur of Sweden, Duke of Dalecarlia, was the fifth and youngest child of the future King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden and his first wife, Crown Princess Margareta, née Princess of Britain. His older siblings were Gustaf Adolf (1906-1947), Sigvard (1907-2002), Ingrid (1910-2000) and Bertil (1912-1997).
He received the name Carl Johan in honour of his great-great-great-grandfather, King Carl XIV Johan of Sweden and of Norway, the founder of the Bernadotte dynasty and of the Swedish-Norwegian union which had come to an end only eleven years before the birth of Prince Carl Johan. His great namesake always held a special fascination for Carl Johan, who was to have a great interest in the history of his family. His other name, Arthur, was in honour of his maternal grandfather, Prince Arthur of Britain, Duke of Connaught. Later he was to say that he was sure that the reason why he, unlike his older siblings, had only one extra name was that the parents had run out of ideas when the fifth child was born.
His christening took place in the so-called Green Drawing Room at the Royal Palace on 4 December 1916. The sponsors were his grandparents, King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria of Sweden, and Prince Arthur and Louise Margaret of Britain, Duke and Duchess of Connaught, his great-grandmother, the Dowager Grand Duchess Luise of Baden, King Christian X of Denmark, Queen Mary of Britain and the Dowager Grand Duchess Augusta of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. The latter, aged 94, died on the very day of the christening.
Prince Carl Johan was only 3 ½ years old when Crown Princess Margareta died on 1 May 1920, aged 38 and pregnant with her sixth child. “Unfortunately I have no memories of my mother. I have always envied my older siblings that they remembered her”, he told me some years ago. He added that he had read a lot about her and was full of admiration for everything she had accomplished during her short life. “She must have been an absolutely wonderful person”.
Three years later his father remarried Lady Louise Mountbatten. Not all the children were very happy about this, notably Ingrid. Carl Johan believed it was easiest for him, who was the youngest and had no memories of his mother and was therefore more “available” than the elder siblings. His relationship with “Aunt Louise” was good, “but she could never really replace my mother, and our relationship never became very confident”. When it came to personal issues he rather confided them in Stina Reuterswärd, a lady-in-waiting to both his mother and stepmother.
When asked about the greatest advantages and disadvantages of growing up as a prince, Carl Johan thought that one was taken very good care of and consequently “a lot more spoilt than most people”, but that one suffered from not knowing much about ordinary life. “Not because there was a great distance, but because we lived a very sheltered life”.
Summers were spent at Sofiero Palace in Helsingborg in Scania, a part of Sweden which came to mean a lot to Prince Carl Johan. Often there were also trips to England to visit his maternal family, and he had vague memories of watching the huge victory parade staged in London in 1919 to mark the end of World War I.
Like his siblings before him, Prince Carl Johan attended a private school at the Royal Palace and eventually went on to the elite boarding school Lundsberg before joining the army. After his spell in the army he began a course in law and economics, but his studies were interrupted by the outbreak of World War II, which Carl Johan and some friends had almost observed first-hand as they drove through Germany in the last days of August 1939.
“That’s it”, Carl Johan said to his sister Ingrid, by then Crown Princess of Denmark, as he reached Graasten Palace in the south of Denmark. He had hardly set foot on Swedish soil before Germany invaded Poland. As an officer in the reserve he was called up to join the Swedish neutrality watch.
The autumn of 1939 also saw a meeting which would change the course of Prince Carl Johan’s life. His 23rd birthday, 31 October 1939, was celebrated at the nightclub Cecil, where he encountered Kerstin Wijkmark. It was not long before he realised that he was in love with her.
The court could hardly have been less happy about the Prince’s choice of girlfriend. Not only was she six years older than him and a commoner, but she was a divorcee and a journalist, as well as a strong character with some rather rough edges. The love affair met with strong opposition from the royal court, who also made some nasty attacks on Kerstin’s character. If this was meant to dissuade the Prince it proved counterproductive.
The Swedish Act of Succession, in force until 1980, was one of the strictest in Europe when it came to royal marriages. Princes were explicitly forbidden to marry a “private Swedish man’s daughter” (it had only been softened somewhat in 1937, when the word “Swedish” had been inserted). If doing so nevertheless, princes automatically forfeited their rights of succession, regardless of whether the King consented to the marriage or not. Whereas Carl Johan’s great-uncle, Prince Oscar Bernadotte, had at least been allowed to retain the title Prince when he broke the rules in 1888, Carl Johan’s elder brother Sigvard and their cousin Lennart had been stripped of all titles and thrown out into the dark when they married commoners in 1934 and 1932 respectively.
Prince Carl Johan and Kerstin Wijkmark announced their engagement as peace returned to Europe in May 1945 and were married in New York on 19 February 1946. “We were treated quite severely, and cut off immediately. I had to return my decorations, and I got no money. It was a huge readjustment”, he told me, but added: “I have often thought about whether I would have done it again if I had known how difficult it would be, but I think I would have done it again. Because I was so much in love with Kerstin and had decided that she was the one I wanted to marry. And I have never regretted that I married her. But I do understand that I caused my father great disappointment, and I understand that better now that I am older”.
Four princes had left the royal house between 1932 and 1946, and Carl Johan’s brother Bertil was about to do the same by marrying his Welsh girlfriend Lilian Craig. When hearing of his brother’s marriage plans, Prince Bertil remarked that he thought he could have waited, perhaps implying that he would have liked to get ahead of him. But the situation changed significantly when the eldest brother, Prince Gustaf Adolf, was killed in a plane crash in January 1947, meaning that the succession hinged on his nine-month son, the current King Carl Gustaf. Prince Bertil therefore postponed his and Lilian’s marriage for three decades in order to be able to act as regent in the all too likely event of Carl Gustaf’s accession to the throne before reaching his majority. We will never know if Carl Johan would have acted in the same way if it had been him rather than Bertil who had been the last prince left in January 1947.
When Bertil and Lilian eventually married in 1976 and Bertil, as a reward for his loyalty and sacrifice, was allowed to retain his royal titles and position, Sigvard and Lennart asked the King to restore the princely title to them. The King did not grant their wish, something which caused a serious falling-out with Sigvard, who nevertheless assumed the title of prince in 1983. Carl Johan made no similar proposition.
“So you are the Swedish Mrs Simpson”, said Winston Churchill when introduced to Kerstin Bernadotte on their honeymoon. They also came to know the real Mrs Simpson as they occasionally spent some time with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor when in New York or Paris. The Duke, who was Carl Johan’s second cousin, always refused to refer to him as Mr Bernadotte. “That is unacceptable to me”, he would say.
Carl Johan himself was of another opinion. “To me it has been good enough to be Mr Bernadotte”, he told me. “I knew the consequences when I married. I have never taken part in any campaigns to get the title back. Kerstin summed it up very well when she said that ‘There is no use in crying over spilt milk, particularly not when one has spilt it oneself’”.
However, following his father’s accession to the throne in 1950, Carl Johan the following year accepted the title Count of Wisborg, which was bestowed on him, his brother Sigvard and their cousin Lennart by Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg.
Having lost his royal status, Carl Johan Bernadotte earned his living as a businessman, while Kerstin continued her career as a journalist and eventually managed to charm her father-in-law. Carl Johan counted himself fortunate in that, unlike his brother Sigvard, his relations with his family were never completely broken.
The couple never had children of their own, but adopted two orphans, Monica and Christian. Monica is a journalist with the weekly Svensk Damtidning, while Christian is a businessman living in the USA. Eventually there were six grandchildren for Carl Johan Bernadotte.
Carl Johan and Kerstin Bernadotte lived in New York, Sweden, Paris and London. Eventually their summer house in the hills about Båstad, a small town on the south-western coast of Sweden, would become his permanent home. It was in the cemetery in Båstad that Kerstin was buried following her death on 11 September 1987, aged 77. Of the four marriages which between 1932 and 1946 cost four princes their succession rights, Carl Johan’s and Kerstin’s was the only which lasted until death did them apart.
By now in his seventies, Carl Johan Bernadotte soon found happiness again, this time in the form of Gunnila Bussler, née Countess Wachtmeister af Johannishus. “We had known each other practically all our lives”, he told me, pointing out that he had found his own signature in the guestbook at her family home in 1930, when she was seven. He had been to boarding school with her brother Claes and later he and Kerstin were good friends with Gunnila and her husband Carl-Herman Bussler. After they had both been widowed, Carl Johan and Gunnila discovered each other in a new way.
The wedding, hosted by his sister Queen Ingrid, who Carl Johan had grown increasingly close to, took place in the Swedish Gustaf Church in Copenhagen on 29 September 1988. Aged 72 and 65 at the time of their marriage they almost made it to their silver wedding.
Carl Johan Bernadotte’s was a rather low-key existence and he did not have the same high public profile as his fellow ex-princes Sigvard and Lennart. He was thus less known to the public, but this was to change in the last years of his life, turning him into something of a national treasure.
The deaths of his siblings Bertil, Ingrid and Sigvard in 1997, 2000 and 2002, followed by their cousin Lennart in 2004, made Carl Johan Bernadotte the last surviving member of his generation (except for those who married into the family). As the grand old man of the family he was treated with a certain respect, which saw him placed as a guest of honour at events such as the seventieth birthday of his niece Queen Margrethe or the wedding of his great-niece Crown Princess Victoria a few months later.
He enjoyed an excellent relationship with his Swedish and Danish families, to whom he was known as “farbror Putte” and “onkel Johnnie” respectively. His ninetieth birthday in 2006 saw a major family gathering in Båstad, while his 95th birthday last autumn was hosted by King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia at Drottningholm Palace. Remarkably fit for his age, he used the occasion to proclaim his intention of living to 100, which seemed far from unlikely.
Carl Johan Bernadotte had a quiet dignity which may be seen as typical of royalty of his generation. He was friendly, approachable and down to earth, was endowed with a sense of humour and was always willing to help. He was quite simply the kindest man imaginable.
As the last survivor of his generation Carl Johan Bernadotte was more often called upon to act as a witness of bygone ages in articles, interviews and documentaries. On a personal note I will maintain happy memories of a summer afternoon spent on his veranda listening to his reminiscences of his life and his family. Many who watched the documentary “Familjen Bernadotte” in connection with the Bernadotte bicentenary in 2010 will remember the warmth radiating from the recorded meeting between him and Crown Princess Victoria.
Even more memorable was his live appearance on TV4 early in the day of her wedding. The huge contrast between him, who had lost his royal position by marrying a commoner, and his great-niece, who could do so without any cost 64 years later, was the theme of the interview. And there, in TV4’s temporary wedding studio at Skeppsbron, sat this fine, warm, generous, old gentleman who without a trace of bitterness praised Crown Princess Victoria and perhaps in particular Prince Daniel to the skies. Watching this it dawned on me what a tremendous asset the Swedish monarchy lost when it let go of Prince Carl Johan.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Carl Johan Bernadotte has died

The Swedish royal court has announced that Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg, the much-loved uncle of the King of Sweden and the Queen of Denmark, died at Ängelholm Hospital at 9 p.m. yesterday, aged 95.
A Prince of Sweden by birth, he was born on 31 October 1916 and was the youngest child of King Gustaf VI Adolf and Crown Princess Margareta. He lost his succession rights and was stripped of his royal titles when he married a commoner in 1946. At the time of his death he was the last surviving great-grandchild of Queen Victoria of Britain.
Carl Johan Bernadotte, who was very close to his relatives in the Swedish and Danish royal families, recently announced his attention of living to the age of 100, and was scheduled to attend the christening of Princess Estelle in Stockholm on 22 May. He died peacefully and quietly after a short stay in the hospital in Ängelholm, not far from his hometown Båstad, in the presence of his wife Gunnila and his children.
Flags are being flown at half mast at several of the Swedish royal palaces, as well as at Stenhammar Palace, where King Carl Gustaf is currently staying.
King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia have released a statement saying: “Count Carl Johan Bernadotte was a dear and beloved family member who because of his friendliness and humour meant a lot to the whole family. We will remember Carl Johan as a respected and loveable relative who we always valued highly, not least because of the knowledge of the history of our family which he so generously shared with us”.
I will write more about the life of this grand old man later.