Thursday, 15 November 2018

At the road's end: Count Oscar Bernadotte af Wisborg (1921-2018)

The second oldest member of the extended Swedish royal family, Count Oscar Bernadotte af Wisborg, died on 3 November, aged 97.
Generally known as "Oscis", Count Oscar Carl Emanuel Bernadotte af Wisborg was the third child born to Count Carl Bernadotte af Wisborg in his first marriage to Baroness Marianne de Geer af Leufsta, and thus a grandson of Prince Oscar Bernadotte, the second son of King Oscar II of Sweden and of Norway, who lost his rights of succession when he married his sister-in-law's former lady-in-waiting in 1888. Count Oscar was thereby a second cousin of King Carl XVI Gustaf's father as well as of King Harald V of Norway, Kings Baudouin I and Albert II of the Belgians and the late Queen Ingrid of Denmark.
His mother was the heir to the de Geers' estate, Frötuna near Norrtälje, but after she divorced Count Carl and married Marcus Wallenberg, one of Sweden's richest men, Carl ran the estate on Oscar's behalf. This was where Crown Princess Märtha of Norway and her three children were in hiding for nearly two weeks after the German invasion of Norway in April 1940.
Count Oscar Bernadotte served in the Swedish navy, but later took over the running of Frötuna, which is now run by his only son, Carl. In 1944, Count Oscar married Baroness Ebba Gyllenkrook, with whom he had a daughter, but the marriage ended in divorce. He later married the dentist Gertrud Ollén, who died in 1999, who bore him a son and two daughters. In his eighties Oscar Bernadotte found love again in the person of the art historian Margot Ekelund, who had first been his girlfriend when they were both twenty. They remained a couple until her death in October last year.
I had the pleasure of meeting Count Oscar Bernadotte af Wisborg on three occasions and remember him as a very friendly and rather straight-forward old gentleman with a keen interest in his family's history. Like many Bernadottes (including his older sister, Dagmar von Arbin, who is now 102), he remained sprightly and active into old age and he had just returned from a trip to France when he fell ill and was taken to the Academic Hospital in Uppsala, where he died. His funeral will take place in Rasbo Church on 2 December.