Funeral of Princess Lilian, The Duchess of Halland

Screen-caption from SVT showing the setting of Princess Lilian's funeral in the Palace Church.

Screen-caption from SVT showing the setting of Princess Lilian’s funeral in the Palace Church.

It was a cold day yesterday, Saturday 16 March, with the temperature meter pointing to -12 Celsius in the morning and icy winds making the coldness creep into marrow and bone despite sensible clothing with long johns, thick down coats or furs, hats, scarves and gloves on all the people that came out to the streets of Stockholm to pay their last respects. As the clock ticked to forenoon, the sun came up and its rays shone beautiful golden light over rooftops and church towers of Stockholm; warming things up as the security level around the Royal Palace in the Old Town was raised and roped off for passage.

Although the funeral was aired on national public service broadcasting (SVT), myself and two friends felt that we wanted to be near as it took place – firstly out of respect for the lovely Duchess of Halland (it’s with great sadness we see a great personality, as well as link to the past, gone) but also a little bit for the special display that a royal funeral is. The last royal funeral in Sweden was Prince Bertil’s in 1997 and at the time I was too young to go on my own and also did not have the same strong interest in monarchy and royalty as I do today.

At noon the bells of the Riddarholmen Church started tolling, not stopping until one hour later a little before 1 PM when the last echoes rang out and reached the palace’s outer courtyard by air. The traditional ‘seraphim ringing’ signals the death and funeral of a Knight or Member of the Order of the Seraphim and is followed by the mounting of his/her shield on the walls of the church. At the church were one officer and four soldiers from the Life Guards as the ceremony took place, and my friend Pia was one of the few visitors there.

Seraphim ringing for Princess Lilian in the Riddarholmen Church, photo by Pia Lagergren.

Seraphim ringing for Princess Lilian in the Riddarholmen Church, photo by Pia Lagergren.

As an honorary guard lined up along the cortège route and military bands positioned themselves, the Royal Family received guests who arrived at the palace by car or foot. In the palace church officers from the Life Guards and Karl XII:s Life Guards stood by Princess Lilian’s coffin which was draped in the royal standard, a triple-tailed flag with the lesser national coat of arms in its centre. On the coffin stood Princess Eugénie’s crown, made in 1860 in Stockholm, and a decoration with lilies of the valley, the Duchess of Halland’s favourite flowers.

At the front left of the coffin stood a small table with Princess Lilian’s badge and grand star of the Order of the Seraphim, resting on a cushion, and in front of the coffin and on the sides of the platform laid the big beautiful memorial wreaths from family, friends and other connections. The altar was also decorated with lilies of the valley. To the left of the altar stood the seraphim standard and to the right a British flag lent from the British embassy in Stockholm; the same flag used for Queen Louise’s funeral in 1965.

The Palace Church was barely half-full. On the right of the coffin sat the extended Royal Family, which for some reason also included Prince Carl Philip’s girlfriend Sofia Hellqvist, and the only two foreign royal guests Queen Margrethe of Denmark and Princess Astrid of Norway. To the left of the coffin sat some official representatives of various kinds, among them Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and the Speaker of the Parliament Per Westerberg with wife.

On the extended guest list (the Royal Court’s guest list document can be downloaded here), apart from private friends, former staff and other special connections, were also the ambassadors of the Scandinavian countries, Archbishop Anders Wejryd, the County Governor of Halland, Lars-Erik-Löwdén, and representatives of organisations which the deceased was involved in. Princess Lilian’s only present relative was Mrs Barbara Davis, her cousin Jean Beaumond who has travelled to Sweden for birthday parties through the years could not make it as she is elderly.

The order of service (download it on the Royal Court’s website) was a mix of Swedish and British. After the introductory organ piece, court singer Karl-Magnus Fredriksson sang Beethoven’s ‘The Glory of God in Nature’ which was also a part of Prince Bertil and the then Lilian Craig’s wedding ceremony. In his eulogy, Chief Court Chaplain Lars-Göran Lönnermark said:
– Lilian Craig went under the rules for the sake of love, for the sake of her husband and, for the sake of the Royal Family and for the sake of our country. In that respect she did not seek hers. In an admirable loyalty towards her husband and solidarity with his life task. It was in itself a declaration of love. To be there but not be seen. In this, her life choice, there was surely also a lot of pain. Princess Lilian was however granted a long life, after 33 years came the day when Prince Bertil and Lilian May Davies became man and wife and Lilian became Princess Lilian and member of the Royal House.

At the end of the ceremony, as the bagpipe tunes of ‘Auld lang syne’ toned out, the bells of the Cathedral of Stockholm next door to the Royal Palace started tolling as members of the Life Guards carried the funeral wreaths and Princess Lilian’s coffin out to the hearse waiting at the Inner Courtyard. As a military band played King Karl XV’s Funeral March, the police escort followed by the hearse and a row of chauffeured cars slowly drove out through the palace gates, starting the cortège route lined with honorary guards that took them to the Royal Burial Ground at Haga as parts of Stockholm stood still.

Princess Lilian left the Royal Palace of Stockholm for the last time just after 2 PM as the hearse slowly drove through the gates to a palace at which she was for so many years a secret guest of Prince Bertil and which she first visited officially in 1972 at the birthday of King Gustaf VI Adolf. Surrounded by the extended Royal Family she was laid to rest at the Royal Burial Ground at Haga yesterday afternoon, joining her great love Prince Bertil for the eternal rest under stone from the duchy of Halland.

While the funeral ceremony took place at Haga, other guests remained in the palace where King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia after returning from the burial ceremony hosted a lunch for a select group of guests. The last guests and royals, the King and Queen not spotted, were seen leaving the palace only around 7 PM in the evening.

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  1. Pingback: A visit to Princess Lilian’s grave | Sofia's Blog

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