Saturday, 30 March 2013

White tie for Princess Madeleine’s wedding

Fans of royal splendour may be pleased to hear that the invitations for the wedding of Princess Madeleine of Sweden and Christopher O’Neill were sent out this week, and that the dress code is white tie or uniform, which means tiaras and grand jewellery for the ladies. The wedding will take place in the Palace Church in Stockholm at 4 p.m. on Saturday 8 June.

Friday, 22 March 2013

First grandchild for Princess Caroline of Monaco

The Monegasque court has confirmed that Andrea Casiraghi and his Colombian fiancée, Tatiana Santo Domingo, became the parents of a son on Thursday. The name of the child has not yet been revealed.
Andrea Casiraghi is the eldest child of Hereditary Princess Caroline (aka the Princess of Hanover), born of her marriage to her second husband, Stefano Casiraghi, who died in a boat accident in 1990.
Andrea Casiraghi is second in line to the throne of Monaco, following his mother, the heiress presumptive, but as his son is born out of wedlock, the baby is not in the line of succession.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

My latest article: Three Dutch queens

When Queen Beatrix abdicates on 30 April, the Netherlands will get its first male head of state in 123 years. In the April issue of the British monthly magazine Majesty (Vol. 34, No. 4), which goes on sale in Britain today, I write about the unique historical phenomenon of three successive women in what is usually a male role: Queen Wilhelmina, who reigned from 1890 to 1948, Queen Juliana, who reigned from 1948 till 1980, and Queen Beatrix, whose reign of 33 years brings the unbroken line of female kings to an end.
Also just out is the Danish Historisk Tidsskrift, vol. 112, no. 2, to which I have contributed a review of Gerd Steinwascher’s book Die Oldenburger. Die Geschichte einer europäischen Dynastie, which relates the history of all the branches of that vast dynasty descending from a small German county.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Parliament votes in favour of the monarchy

Yesterday the Norwegian Parliament debated a proposal aiming at initiating a process leading to the introduction of a republic. The proposal was put forward by the MPs Hallgeir H. Langeland and Snorre Serigstad Valen of the Socialist Left Party, and Eirin Sund, Truls Wickholm, Marianne Marthinsen and Jette F. Christensen of the Labour Party. After a short debate, which may be read here (external link), the idea was rejected with 83 votes against and only 11 for.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Le privilège du blanc

Pope Francis’s inauguration mass in Rome today was a good opportunity to observe one of the intricacies of papal etiquette, namely what is known as le privilège du blanc (the privilege of white).
Women are generally expected to wear black in the presence of the Pope, although not all follow this guideline (for instance, Queen Margrethe wore grey last time she visited the Vatican). But since an unknown date there has been an exception made for the wives of Catholic kings, who have been allowed to wear white in the Pope’s presence.
In former days, this included the Empress of Austria-Hungary as well as the queens of France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Bavaria, Belgium and Poland (but apparently not the Queen of Saxony, probably because the country did not share the royal family’s Catholic faith), but after the disapperance of most European monarchies the privilege of white today extends only to the Queens of Belgium and Spain, the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg and female captains regent (i.e. heads of state) of San Marino.
Other female members of royal families (except Italian princesses, I believe) and Catholic wives of Protestant monarchs (such as Máxima of the Netherlands will be when her husband ascends the Dutch throne on 30 April) do not have the privilege, which also does not extend to the wives of sovereign princes. Or at least it did not do so until recently.
While her mother-in-law, Princess Grace, always wore black when meeting popes, Princess Charlène of Monaco wore white when she and Sovereign Prince Albert II were received in an audience by Pope Benedict XVI on 12 January this year. The Vatican Press Office subsequently stated that “in accordance with prescribed ceremonial of the Vatican for Catholic sovereigns, the princess was allowed to dress in white”.
However, Princess Charlène wore black at the inauguration today, and the Princess of Liechtenstein was not present, so it seems unclear whether the privilege has really been extended to the wives of Catholic sovereign princes. The Queen of Spain was also absent, but the Queen of the Belgians and the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg both wore white.
However, it might also be noted that there have been occasions when ladies enjoying the le privilège du blanc have chosen not to make use of it, the most recent example I can think of being the late Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte of Luxembourg, who wore black the last time she and Grand Duke Jean were received by Pope John Paul II before the Grand Duke’s abdication in 2000.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Sweden’s beloved Princess Lilian laid to rest

On a beautiful winter day, thousands came out onto the streets of Stockholm to pay their respects as the much-loved Princess Lilian, who died on Sunday at the age of 97, was laid to rest.
The funeral took place in the Palace Church, where the Princess had been lying in state since Friday evening. The oak coffin, designed by Court Architect Ove Hidemark, was draped in the royal standard and rested on a catafalque covered in a dark blue ball with golden crowns. It was surmounted by Princess Eugénie’s crown and a bouquet of lilies of the valley, Princess Lilian’s favourite flowers. The Order of Seraphim, of which Princess Lilian had been a member since 1995, lie on a table to the left, while the coffin’s head end was flanked by that order’s banner and a British flag, lent by the British Embassy to symbolise the Princess’s British origins. The coffin was surrounded by a number of floral tributes.
The Chief Court Chaplain, Lars-Göran Lönnermark, officiated, assisted by the vicar of the Court Parish, Michael Bjerkhagen, and the Rev. Nicholas Howe of the Anglican church in Stockholm. (Although Welsh by birth, Princess Lilian was baptised in the Church of England, but later joined the Church of Sweden). The Chief Court Chaplain gave a brief eulogy, while the other prelates read from the bible, ending with the words of love being greatest of all, which seemed fitting as love was what defined Princess Lilian’s life and caused her to wait 33 years for her prince.
Works by Handel, Beethoven, Vaughan Williams and Roman were performed by a soloist, the chair and the organist, while the psalms sung were the Swedish version of “Amazing Grace”, “Härlig är jorden” and “Abide with me”, the latter in English. Princess Lilian’s British origins were also underlined by the choir performing “Jerusalem” and the service ending with “Auld Lang Syne” played on a bagpipe.
Following the eulogy, the Marshal of the Realm (i.e. Lord Chamberlain), Svante Lindqvist, solemnly removed the crown from the coffin, symbolising that all are equal in death. The Chief Court Chaplain thereafter sprinkled earth from the garden of Princess Lilian’s home, Villa Solbacken, which was followed by a 21-gun salute from the battery at nearby Skeppsholmen.
To the right in the choir sat, in the first row, King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, Prince Carl Philip, and Princess Madeleine and her fiancé Christopher O’Neill, who will marry in the same church on 8 June.
Behind them in the second row were Princess Margaretha, Princess Birgitta, Princess Désirée, Princess Christina and her husband Tord Magnuson, Princess Astrid of Norway, Countess Gunnila Bernadotte af Wisborg (widow of the late former Prince Carl Johan), Countess Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg (widow of the late former Prince Sigvard), Dagmar von Arbin (granddaughter of the late Prince Oscar Bernadotte), her brother Count Oscar Bernadotte af Wisborg with his partner Margot Ekelund (the latter not mentioned in the official guest list, for some reason), their sister Catharina Nilert and their cousin Count Bertil Bernadotte af Wisborg with his wife Jill.
In the third row were Princess Christina’s three sons, Gustaf, Oscar and Victor Magnuson (without their partners), Princess Désirée’s daughter, Baroness Hélène Silfverschiöld, who was Princess Lilian’s goddaughter and her bridesmaid in 1976, accompanied by Fredrik Diterle, Countess Bettina Bernadotte af Wisborg (daughter of the late former Prince Lennart), Prince Carl Philip’s girlfriend Sofia Hellqvist, Countess Monica Bonde af Björnö (daughter of the late former Prince Carl Johan), Count Claes Bernadotte af Wisborg (another grandson of Prince Oscar Bernadotte) and his wife Birgitta, and Patrick Sommerlath, a nephew of Queen Silvia.
Princess Lilian’s nearest relative (except her two half-sisters, with whom she had no contact), her cousin Jean Beaumond, was not able to attend. The only of her relatives to attend was one Barbara Davis, but apparently she was not seated with the royal relatives. Opposite the family sat, among others, the Speaker of Parliament, Per Westerberg, and the Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt. Also among the mourners in the half-full church was courtiers, staff, official representatives such as the Archbishop and the County Governor of Hallandia (of which county Princess Lilian was duchess), the three nurses who had taken care of her during her last years, friends and representatives of organisations with which the Princess was affiliated.
The bells of the Cathedral of Stockholm tolled as six officers carried Princess Lilian’s coffin out of the Palace Church at the end of the funeral service. It was then taken in a hearse, followed by the family in some fifteen other cars, at a very slow speed through the centre of Stockholm and out to the Haga Park, where, in a private ceremony, Princess Lilian was interred at the Royal Burial Ground by the side of Prince Bertil, the man whose love eventually made the poor girl from Wales the grand old lady of the Swedish monarchy.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Princess Lilian lies in state

There were long queues outside the Royal Palace in Stockholm today as the much-loved Princess Lilian lay in state in the Palace Church, which was open to the public from noon till 3 p.m. The closed coffin, as is the tradition in Northern Europe, was draped in the royal standard and surmounted by Princess Eugénie’s crown. From 4 p.m. family and others with a personal connection to the Princess paid their respects at the lying-in-state. Among them were King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel, Prince Carl Philip and his girlfriend Sofia Hellqvist, Princess Madeleine and her fiancé Christopher O’Neill, Princess Birgitta, Princess Margaretha, Princess Christina and Tord Magnuson. The funeral will take place at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Queen Margrethe to attend Princess Lilian’s funeral; funeral to be broadcast

The Danish court has announced that Queen Margrethe will attend the funeral of her aunt, Princess Lilian of Sweden, in the Palace Church in Stockholm on Saturday. At last it has also been decided that the funeral will be broadcast. SVT2’s broadcast will start at 12.40 p.m., while the funeral will start at 1 p.m. (not 11 a.m. as stated on the Danish royal website). The commentators will be the author John Chrispinsson and Roger Lundgren, editor-in-chief of Kungliga Magasinet.
Tomorrow Princess Lilian will lie in state in the Palace Church, where the public will be admitted from noon to 3 p.m. Her coffin, draped in the royal standard, arrived at the Royal Palace at 6.30 p.m. today, where the royal family, including Princess Christina and Tord Magnuson, gathered to pay their respects.
Princess Madeleine’s fiancé, Christopher O’Neill, has meanwhile arrived from New York to attend the funeral. (The tabloid Expressen’s notoriously unreliable royal correspondent Johan T. Lindwall yesterday ran his usual drama story of how O’Neill will not be allowed to be seated with his fiancée as they are not married, but as everyone with the slightest knowledge of court etiquette knows, fiancés are always seated with their betrothed at royal events).
Following the funeral service Princess Lilian will be buried by the side of her husband, Prince Bertil, in the Royal Burial Ground at Haga. The coffin will be driven in a closed hearse, followed by some fifteen other cars carrying family members. The cortege will go by way of Slottsbacken, Skeppsbron and Slottskajen, over Norrbro to Gustaf Adolfs torg, and then by way of Regeringsgatan, Hamngatan, Sveavägen, Norra Stationsgatan and Norrtul to the southern gates to the Haga Park. Soldiers will line the route from the Palace to Gustaf Adolfs torg.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Princess Astrid to attend Princess Lilian’s funeral

The Norwegian royal family will be represented by Princess Astrid at the funeral of Princess Lilian of Sweden in the Palace Church in Stockholm on Saturday. The King and Princess Lilian were fond of each other, but the King will attend a skiing event that day (it is not the first time he makes sporting events a priority above family funerals).
The court of Copenhagen has not yet announced who will represent the Danish royal family, but given that Princess Lilian was the aunt (by marriage) of Queen Margrethe I would not be surprised to see Queen Margrethe herself and/or her sisters.
As this is a considered a smaller event than Prince Bertil’s funeral in 1997 I would expect that only those foreign royals with a personal connection to the late Princess will attend, which might mean only the Scandinavian royal families (although Prince Philip of Britain was fond of her).
At the funeral of Prince Bertil, Norway was represented by the King and his two sisters with their husbands, Denmark by Queen Ingrid, Queen Margrethe, Prince Henrik, Princess Benedikte and Prince Richard, Britain by Prince Philip, Belgium by Queen Paola, the Netherlands by Princess Margriet, Luxembourg by Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte and Spain by Princess Cristina, if I recall correctly. The President of Iceland and a former President of Finland were also in attendance, which will probably not be the case this time.

An Argentine Pope: Francis I

Some minutes after 7 p.m. today white smoke emerged from the Sixtine Chapel in the Vatican, announcing to the world that the papal conclave had elected a new pontiff on the fifth ballott. The choice fell on 76-year-old Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, who chose to reign under the name of Francis.
The new Pope is the first Latin American pontiff and the first non-European since Gregory III, who reigned from 731 to 741. He is also the first Jesuit Pope, and reportedly chose the name Francis I in honour of Saint Francis Xavier (Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta), one of the co-founders of the Jesuit order, or Saint Francis of Assisi. Except for John Paul I, who became the first pope to assume a double name when combining the names of his two immediate predecessors, Francis I is the first pontiff to choose an entirely new name since the little-known Lando, who reigned briefly from 913 to 914.
It remains to be seen whether he will be officially styled Francis I or just Francis. It is not unusual for the first monarch of a name not to use a numeral; for instance, the English sovereign now called Elizabeth I was generally known as simply Queen Elizabeth until 1952, when Elizabeth II came along, like Queen Victoria will become known as Victoria I if there one day is a Victoria II. Among the current European monarchs we find Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands without an ordinal, but King Juan Carlos I of Spain with one.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Turkish state visit to sombre Sweden

Yesterday the President of Turkey, Abdullah Gül, and his wife, Hayrünnisa Gül, arrived in Sweden on a three-day state visit hosted by King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. It is the first Turkish state visit to Sweden ever, but the King and Queen of Sweden made a state visit to Turkey in 2006.
There are old links between the two countries, as Sweden and the Ottoman empire saw a mutual arch-enemy in Russia and thus had a common cause. Following his defeat at Poltava in 1709, King Carl XII of Sweden spent the next five years in the Ottoman empire, the first four of them in Bender (now in Moldavia).
In 1885, King Oscar II and Queen Sophia of Sweden and of Norway visited Constantinople, where their son, Prince Carl, had fallen gravely ill. This was a private visit and the circumstances meant that the King and Queen wished to be incognito. However, it was only very rarely that foreign monarchs came to the Ottoman capital, and Sultan Abdulhamid II made much out of the visit and showered King Oscar and Queen Sophia with gifts.
The state visit to Sweden, which began yesterday and ends tomorrow, has a sombre touch because of the death of Princess Lilian, which happened on Sunday, when it was probably too late to postpone the state visit. King Carl Gustaf has decided that the flag should be flown at full mast on the Royal Palace during the state visit, but flags on other public buildings and along the Northern Bridge were on half mast when the state visit commenced yesterday. The King was wearing a black armband on his uniform and all the members of the royal family were wearing black, including at the state banquet last night. For the daytime events as well as for the banquet Crown Princess Victoria wore in a prominent position a small brooch which was a present from Princess Lilian and Prince Bertil.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Princess Lilian to be buried on Saturday

The royal court of Stockholm has announced that the funeral of Princess Lilian, who died yesterday, will take place in the Palace Church at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Princess will be laid to rest next to her husband, Prince Bertil, in the Royal Burial Ground in the Haga Park, just outside Stockholm.
Princess Lilian’s lying-in-state will be very brief, lasting only from noon to 3 p.m. on Friday. On Wednesday and Thursday it will be possible to sign books of condolences in the Hall of State at the Royal Palace from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

King Carl Gustaf pays tribute to late aunt

In a statement published on the Swedish royal website, King Carl Gustaf has paid tribute to his aunt, Princess Lilian, who died on Sunday evening, describing her as a “much-loved member of our family”, who spread joy and happiness around her, and praising her for her loyalty to the royal family and Sweden.
Court mourning has not been declared, and the state visit of President Abdullah Gül of Turkey, which starts tomorrow, will go ahead as planned (this seems quite odd to me, particularly to have a state banquet 24 hours after the death of a member of the royal house, but it might be that it was simply too late to cancel it).
The bells of the churches in the city of Stockholm will toll in memory of Princess Lilian from 8 a.m. to 8.10 a.m. Monday morning, and flags will be flown at half mast at the royal palaces, the private palaces of Solliden and Stenhammar, the Royal Mews and the royal court’s building at Slottsbacken 2 until the Princess has been buried (the date has not yet been set). However, the Royal Palace in Stockholm will fly the flag at full mast from 11 a.m. on Monday until the end of the Turkish state visit on Wednesday evening.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

At the road’s end: Princess Lilian of Sweden (1915-2013)

The court of Stockholm has announced that Princess Lilian, Duchess of Hallandia died in her home Villa Solbacken at Djurgården in Stockholm this afternoon, aged 97. Princess Lilian, aunt-by-marriage to the King of Sweden and the Queen of Denmark, was much loved and known for her charm, her sense of humour and her regal bearing. As such she was living proof that majesty is not necessarily something one has to be born to.
Her origins were in fact as far from royal as one could possibly get. Born Lillian May Davies, she first saw the light of day in Swansea in Wales on 30 August 1915. She was the only surviving child of William John Davies (1892-1956), a factory worker, and Gladys Mary Curran (1895-1942), a shop assistant.
Hers was not a happy childhood. “We lived in a very poor area, a mining district. I stayed until I turned eighteen. My life there was really sad. We were very poor and had to work hard. There was no joy, no life...nothing”, she was later to tell her second husband’s biographer Fabian af Petersens. In her own autobiography she accorded her childhood exactly one hundred words.
Her misery was increased by the fact that her father left the family at an early date, something she never forgave him. However, her parents remained legally married until 1939, when they were both about to remarry. She refused to have any contact with her father’s two daughters of his second marriage, Sonia Roberts and Janice Rees, who are her nearest living relatives. “All divorces are not happy divorces”, was her comment when a Swedish newspaper tracked down her half-sisters in the 1990s.
Lillian Davies left school at the age of fourteen and took a job in a shop to help her mother out financially. At the age of eighteen, Lilian, who around that time dropped an “l” from her name, had had enough of Wales and left for London to pursue a career as a singer and actress. However, this met with limited success. Strikingly beautiful, she earned some minor roles in films and commercials, but mostly worked as a model and nightclub hostess.
Through acting she encountered the Scottish actor Ivan Craig, whom she married in a civil ceremony in Horsham, Surrey on 27 September 1940. She would later describe it as a typical “wartime marriage”. Her husband had enrolled in the British army, where he eventually reached the rank of major, and was soon despatched to fight in North Africa, Sicily, mainland Italy and eventually India. Eventually the couple lost contact.
Meanwhile Lilian took a job in a radio factory as well as doing some volunteer work at the East Grinstead Hospital. In August 1943 she went to Les Ambassadeurs Club and met a man who introduced himself as Prince of Sweden. Never having heard of such a country, Lilian laughed and replied that she was the Queen of Sheba.
But the man was indeed a prince, Sweden was her destiny and this was the beginning of one of the greatest royal love stories of the twentieth century. The third son of the then Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden, Prince Bertil had been appointed assistant naval attaché at the Swedish embassy in London. The Prince would later claim that their first meeting had taken place on 30 August 1943, but Lilian disagreed about the date, which would have been her birthday. Nevertheless they stayed in touch.
One night the Prince was having dinner at the Dorchester Hotel with among others Princess Marina of Britain, the widowed Duchess of Kent, when a bomb fell near Lilian’s Knightsbridge home. Prince Bertil telephoned to hear how she was doing and, when realising how frightened his friend was, made his excuses to Princess Marina and left the dinner to be with Lilian.
Because of an unexploded bomb in the neighbourhood, Lilian was ordered to evacuate her house that very night. The Prince took her in. And she stayed for the rest of his life. “We were not a couple when I moved in. But we soon became one”, she was later to recall.
On 8 May 1945 the war in Europe came to an end and thus also Prince Bertil’s service in London. “One day the war ended. And I realised that I loved a prince”, Lilian recalled. The Prince left for Sweden, but soon he returned to his love. Major Ivan Craig also showed up in London, revealing that he had fallen in love with an Italian woman, yet did not want to divorce the wife he had not been in touch with for years.
In the end Ivan Craig and Prince Bertil met at the Ritz Hotel to talk the situation over. Ivan Craig made the Prince promise that he would always take care of Lilian and on 7 November 1947 the Craigs’ marriage was legally dissolved. Ivan Craig later remarried and the two couples remained friends until his death in 1994.
But just as it seemed possible for Prince Bertil and Lilian Craig to marry, their plans were shattered. The Act of Succession of 1810 had stipulated that a royal prince who married a “private man’s daughter” would automatically lose his rights of succession whether he married with or without the King’s consent. In 1937 this had been modified to “Swedish private man’s daughter”, but there was no doubt that Prince Bertil would never get his father’s and grandfather’s permission to marry a divorced Welsh nightclub hostess.
His second oldest brother, Prince Sigvard, and their cousins, Prince Lennart and Prince Carl Jr, had already forfeited their rights of succession when marrying commoners in 1934, 1932 and 1937, respectively. Sigvard and Lennart had both been quite severely punished by their family for breaking ranks in such a way. In February 1946 Bertil’s youngest brother, Prince Carl Johan, did the same thing by marrying a divorced commoner.
The succession thus hung on the eldest brother, Prince Gustaf Adolf, but the problem was that he and his wife Sibylla had four daughters, but no sons, and daughters were not eligible for succession. However, on 30 April 1946 Sibylla finally gave birth to a son, Prince Carl Gustaf.
Thus the way seemed open for Prince Bertil to marry Lilian when her divorce had come through, thus forfeiting his royal rights without putting the future of the dynasty in jeopardy. But nine months later, on 26 January 1947, Prince Gustaf Adolf was killed in a plane crash. Thus the infant Prince Carl Gustaf became next in line to the throne after his 64-year-old grandfather and his 88-year-old great-grandfather.
Thus it seemed more than likely that Prince Carl Gustaf would succeed to the throne before reaching his majority and consequently a regent would be needed. Except for Prince Bertil, the other royal princes were his 62-year-old uncle Wilhelm and his octogenarian great-uncles Carl and Eugen, none of whom had sons with succession rights. The only possible future regent was therefore Prince Bertil.
This naturally put him in a terrible dilemma, but unlike his brothers he chose duty to his family and his country over love. But he did ask Lilian to wait for him and she did wait for him for three decades. Their greatest regret was that they were thus not able to have children.
Prince Bertil moved out of the Royal Palace and bought a house, Villa Solbacken, at Djurgården, a fashionable peninsula just outside Stockholms’s city centre. Shortly thereafter Lilian moved to Sweden and to Villa Solbacken, but the Prince cold not bring her to any public engagements and no-one was supposed to know of her existence.
This was helped by the fact that the genial Prince was on very good terms with the Swedish press, with whom he reached a gentlemen’s agreement promising them the full story one day in exchange for not writing about it until then. With very few exceptions the media kept their part of the deal.
At first Prince Bertil’s family was also kept in the dark about Lilian’s existence, but eventually the secret was revealed. Prince Bertil’s sister, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, and his sister-in-law Princess Sibylla were both very sceptical at first, but eventually came to realise that Lilian was no fortune-seeker and to appreciate her sacrifice and her loyalty. Prince Bertil’s father, who succeeded to the throne as King Gustaf VI Adolf in 1950, also came to like Lilian, but would not hear talk of consenting to their marriage.
Eventually Lilian began being invited to family events; the first time being King Gustaf Adolf’s eightieth birthday in 1962. Meanwhile Prince Carl Gustaf grew up, but his apparent immaturity caused the age of majority for the heir to the throne to be raised twice, eventually to the age of 25, which meant that he would not come of age until 1971, by which time King Gustaf Adolf would be nearing 89.
Eventually King Gustaf Adolf did live to that age and by the time of his ninetieth birthday in November 1972 Mrs Craig was accepted to the degree that she appeared at Prince Bertil’s side wearing a laurel wreath tiara which had been his mother’s. She again accompanied him publicly to the funeral of King Gustaf Adolf in September 1973.
Although he was not called on to act as regent, Prince Bertil was an invaluable support to his inexperienced, 27-year-old nephew Carl XVI Gustaf. Both he and Lilian were also immediately won over when introduced to the King’s girlfriend, Silvia Sommerlath, whom he eventually made his Queen in June 1976.
It had been the late King Gustaf Adolf’s wish that Bertil and Lilian would postpone their wedding until King Carl Gustaf had married. Some months after his wedding the King brought his pregnant wife to Villa Solbacken, and after dinner he took his uncle aside for a private talk. Upon returning, Bertil told Lilian gravely: “Darling, you will have to renounce your British citizenship”. “Never!” she protested. The Prince then told her that she had to, as she would now become a Princess of Sweden. They had waited 33 years.
King Carl Gustaf rewarded his uncle’s loyalty and sacrifice by giving his consent to the marriage and deciding that Prince Bertil should keep all his titles and his rights of succession. This caused some resentment among the ex-Princes Sigvard and Lennart, who asked for their titles back, but was turned down by the King. Indeed, when the Act of Succession was amended in 1980, limiting the succession to the descendants of Carl XVI Gustaf, a special provision was added to ensure that Prince Bertil remained in line for the rest of his life, thus enabling him to act as guardian of the realm when the King was abroad.
Aged 64 and 61 respectively, Prince Bertil and Lilian Craig were married in the small chapel at Drottningholm Palace on 7 December 1976. Having put the ring on his bride’s finger, Prince Bertil kissed her hand. Thus Mrs Craig was transformed into Her Royal Highness Princess Lilian of Sweden, Duchess of Hallandia.
Prince Bertil and Princess Lilian became something of substitute grandparents to the three children of King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia. She and Queen Silvia always got along very well, but the Princess always rejected the idea that she had been some sort of mother-in-law to the Queen, insisting that the Queen had been more of a help to her than the other way around.
Princess Lilian embarked on her royal duties late in life, but no-one could guess that she had not been born to it. The couple travelled frequently on behalf of their country and Princess Lilian’s style, grace and charm made her a great asset to her adopted country and earned her the same sort of popularity as her husband’s.
The Princess’s sense of humour could be somewhat dirty, but she also had a keen eye for practical jokes. One of them involved Ronald Reagan and a bottle of fake ketchup, which earned her the sobriquet “the world’s craziest royal” from George H. W. Bush, but which the Secret Service apparently found less amusing. Her social skills often saved the day at formal events, including an embarrassing Yeltsin moment during his state visit to Sweden in 1997.
Princess Lilian had a wide circle of admirers, among them King Harald V of Norway, Prince Philip of Britain, Roger Moore and Bruce Springsteen. But she also retained something of the humility of the poor girl from Wales. When introduced to Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, the latter encouraged Princess Lilian to let her know next time she was in London, but the former British subject could never get herself to invite herself to a cup of tea with the Queen of Britain.
In the first half of the 1990s Prince Bertil began to suffer heart problems and eventually fell and broke his hip, from which he never fully recovered. As he eventually gave up nearly all public engagements, Princess Lilian went on alone.
On 7 December 1996 the couple celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary. A month later, in the evening of 5 January 1997, shortly before his 85th birthday, Prince Bertil died in his home, holding his wife’s hand.
Princess Lilian was devastated and it was nearly half a year before she was seen to smile in public again. But she soldiered on, taking on her share of royal duties and remaining a much-loved member of the royal family. For her birthday that year the royal family gave her a dog, which became her comfort and steadfast companion until its death in the autumn of 2011.
In 2003 Princess Lilian began to show signs of forgetfulness and eventually physical frailty also set in, which caused the court to cut down on her public engagements. Some time after her ninetieth birthday she gave up attending evening events, but she was still to be seen at major family events until 2008.
On 30 April 2008 she fainted in public during the celebrations of King Carl Gustaf’s 62nd birthday and never again attended public engagements, although she could still from time to time be seen in a restaurant or so. She broke her hip later that year and had another bad fall in her home in 2009.
Princess Lilian was particularly close to Crown Princess Victoria, who adored her crazy “Auntie”. In June 2010 Princess Lilian missed the Crown Princess’s wedding to Daniel Westling, which caused her Court Marshal Elisabeth Palmstierna to confirm publicly that the Princess suffered from senile dementia. (It was reported at the time that she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, but Baroness Palmstierna claimed to be have been misquoted and insisted that she had only said senile dementia). Recently her physical condition deteriorated further.
King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia were at her bedside as she died this afternoon. So were their three children; Crown Princess Victoria and Princess Madeleine having returned from the latter’s bachelorette party in Switzerland to be at the side of their great-aunt during her final hours.
Following a funeral service in the Palace Chapel Princess Lilian will be laid to rest next to Prince Bertil in the Royal Burial Ground at Haga in Solna, just outside Stockholm.

Friday, 8 March 2013

My latest article: Bjørnson, Prince Eugen and the crown of Norway

Edvard Hoem has just become the first author ever to complete a multi-volume biography of Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, the poet and dramatist who was awarded the 1903 Nobel Prize for Literature and who was one of the staunchest opponents of the union with Sweden. Det evige forår, the fourth and final volume of the biography, published at the end of February, shows how Bjørnson, after decades at the front line, was completely sidelined when the union was dissolved in 1905. However, Hoem completely overlooks the most interesting thing Bjørnson did that year: His attempt to act kingmaker by, on his own initiative, offering the crown of Norway to Prince Eugen already four days before the dissolution of the union. In an article in Aftenposten today I tell the story of how this happened and how Prince Eugen reacted (a story which is also included in my 2006 dissertation on the Bernadotte candidature to the Norwegian throne).

Sunday, 3 March 2013

European heirs gather in the Netherlands

This weekend most of the heirs to the European thrones are gathered in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands, and a group photo may be viewed on the Swedish royal court’s Facebook page. These meetings have become a fixture during the past decade or so, but this is, as far as I know, the first time a photo has been released. There are also similar meetings between the royal courts at different levels (the lords chamberlain, the information departments, the palace librarians, etc.), which rotate between the countries. In all cases the purpose is to give those involved an opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences.
This year’s meeting takes place in the Dutch town Apeldoorn and is hosted by Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Máxima, who will leave the group when they ascend the Dutch throne next month. The others present are Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel of Sweden, Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Spain, Crown Prince Haakon of Norway, Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde of Belgium and Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie of Luxembourg. Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark is attending a sports engagement in Sweden in a private capacity, while the heirs to Britain and Liechtenstein (and the heiress presumptive to Monaco) do not normally attend.
The absence of the British heir and his wife will probably lead to the usual comments about the British royal family snubbing or disliking their European counterparts, but Prince Charles clearly gets along well with his colleagues and his absence is a logical consequence of how the British monarchy since the Second World War has focused its attention on the Commonwealth rather than on Europe. If this will change in the next reign remains to be seen.