Tag Archives: obit

Obit: Landgrave Moritz of Hesse (1926-2013)

Landgrave Moritz of Hesse at the wedding of Princess Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg in 2011.

Landgrave Moritz of Hesse at the wedding of Princess Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg in 2011.

Yesterday it was announced that Landgrave Moritz of Hesse passed away in the afternoon at a hospital in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, after suffering from lung problems for some time.

Named Moritz Friedrich Karl Emanuel Humbert, he was born at the royal residence Racconigi in Piedmont, Italy on 6 August 1926. He was the oldest child and first son out of three sons and one daughter of Landgrave Philip of Hesse and Princess Mafalda of Savoy, making him a grandson of King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy, and a great-grandson of Emperor Frederick III of Germany and his wife Victoria, Princess Royal.

Moritz spent his childhood first in Rome, Italy, and then in Cassel and Kronberg im Tanus, Germany. His mother died in the concentration camp of Buchenwald in 1944, to which she had been brought after being arrested upon returning from a visit to her sister Queen Giovanna of Bulgaria who had just lost her husband Tsar Boris, while his father survived after an imprisonment. Moritz received military training but was as a prince not allowed to take part actively in the war, and afterwards he finished high school studies in Darmstadt and then went on to study agriculture in Kiel. Subsequent to that that Moritz managed the estate of Gut Panker in Schleswig-Holstein.

Church arrivals, 18 June afternoon

Landgrave Moritz with Princess Tatjana and granddaughter Madeleine at Princess Nathalie’s wedding in 2011.

In 1968 the two main branches of the House of Hesse, the Hesse-Cassel and Hesse and by Rhine (Hesse-Darmstadt), were united under the headship of Moritz’s father when Grand Duke Ludwig died without heirs. The Grand Duke had during his lifetime, in 1960, adopted Moritz as his son and heir, and upon his father’s death in 1980 Moritz assumed the headship of the full House of Hesse and took the title Landgrave.

In 1964 the then Prince Moritz married Princess Tatjana zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, daughter of Fürst Gustav Albecht and his wife Fürstin Margareta (née Fouché d’Otrante of Elghammar in Sweden) and thus sister of the current Prince Richard (married to Princess Benedikte of Denmark). They had four children: Mafalda (b. 1965), Heinrich Donatus (b. 1966), Elena (b. 1967) and Philipp (1970). Moritz and Tatiana divorced in 1974 but remained best friends, raised their children together and accompanied each other to events.

Landgrave Moritz lived at Schloss Wolfsgarten in Langen south of Frankfurt-am-Main and spent time at family homes in Italy. He devoted himself to his passions for garden culture, art and dogs (pugs). As head of the Hessian House Foundation, now under the headship of son Heinrich Donatus, Landgrave Moritz remained active and devoted in managing and developing the properties and collections inherited and united from the Hesse branches. The foundation manages a large and prominent art collection, some of which can be seen at the Schloss Fasanerie near Fulda.

– We descendants of Victoria see each other at weddings, funerals and parties, Langrave Moritz once said. Now it’s sadly time for the Landgrave’s own funeral service, to be held at the Johanniskirche (Johannis Church) in Kronberg am Tanus on 3 June at noon.

Landgrave Moritz is survived by his former wife Princess Tatiana, four children, ten grandchildren and his sister Countess Elisabeth von Oppersdorff.

Obit: Baroness Elisabeth Palmstierna (1917-2013)

Baroness Elisabeth Palmstierna (in red hat) with an Aide-de-Camp, First Lady of the Court Baroness Kirstine von Blixen-Finecke (white hat with black bow), Mistress of the Robes Countess Alice Trolle-Wachtmeister (in pink) and Court Marshal Elisabeth Tarras-Wahlberg (right, in red) at Princess Madeleine's 25th birthday in 2007.

Baroness Elisabeth Palmstierna (in red hat) with an Aide-de-Camp, First Lady of the Court Baroness Kirstine von Blixen-Finecke, Mistress of the Robes Countess Alice Trolle-Wachtmeister and Court Marshal Elisabeth Tarras-Wahlberg at Princess Madeleine’s 25th birthday in 2007.

Today the family pages of Swedish newspapers announced the death of Court Marshal Baroness Elisabeth Palmstierna on 6 April.

Palmstierna’s death happened almost exactly one month after that of her boss and companion Princess Lilian, who died on 10 March, and her passing concludes an amazing sixty years of loyal service at the Royal Court.

Baroness Elisabeth Palmstierna was as loyal as they come and was until 2012, many years after the princess had been retired from public life, seen coming into work at the palace. With her residence at the Royal Mews, not far from the palace, she remained active until the end when she was assisted at her appearances.

Eva Margareta Elisabeth Tham was born on 28 April 1917 as the second daughter of Wilhelm Tham (of untitled nobility) and Countess Margareta Hamilton. She would come to have three sisters and one brother and father Wilhelm was a well-decorated chamberlain for Crown Princess later Queen Louise and later Court Marshal for King Gustaf VI Adolf.

Elisabeth started her working life in the service of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for which she worked as a secretary at the Swedish embassies in Helsinki, Warsaw and Rome between 1940 and 1950. In an interview connected to her 90th birthday in Svenska Dagbladet in 2007, Elisabeth remembered the horrors of Warsaw at the time of her posting; all the ruins, the ghetto, the horrible stench on the streets and sometimes having to talk over human body parts.

After her foreign service Elisabeth worked for companies AB Nobelkrut, Bofors and Sveriges Kreditbank before being interviewed for a position at the Royal Court. In 1953 she started in a clerical position at the Office of the Marshall of the Court. In 1962 she became Prince Bertil’s secretary and after experiencing condescending treatment in her contacts with the male dominated world both at court and in civil service, Elisabeth herself went to Prince Bertil and asked if it was possible to give her a titled position so that people would take her seriously. So in 1974 she was given the title Court Intendant, from 1979 First Court Intendant, and her task was to handle the Prince’s office work and later also that of his wife. In 1991 King Carl XVI Gustaf promoted her to Court Marshal – the first female such ever.

In 1959 Elisabeth married Baron Carl-Fredrik Palmstierna (1903-1993), a historian and Ph.D. who was King Gustaf VI Adolf’s private secretary and manager of his vast personal library. The couple had one child, daughter Margareta who was born in 1960.

During the years in royal service Palmstierna travelled around the world with Prince Bertil and later Princess Lilian for their official business. As their trusted companion as well as manager of their official business, Elisabeth was always a given guest at the smaller official dinners that the princely couple hosted at the palace as well as at birthday celebrations. As the prince became weaker in health during the 1990’s Elisabeth’s relationship to Princess Lilian was cemented even stronger, she really became a close friend and companion. In 1992 when Prince Bertil had to cancel his attendance at the Olympic Games in Albertville, it was Elisabeth who went with Princess Lilian and stayed with her.

In 1986 Elisabeth was awarded H.M. The King’s Medal in the 12th size with the ribbon of the Order of the Seraphim, the third-highest grade of the medal, for her royal services.

Obit: Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

Chris Collins/The Margaret Thatcher Foundation

Chris Collins/The Margaret Thatcher Foundation

Yesterday the news of the death of Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, created headlines and discussions around the world. Many people, myself included, obviously felt that her demise marked the end of an era and wanted to talk about it. Because no matter where one is in the world or in what political direction one’s heart leans – Margaret Thatcher evoked feelings and opinions. She left this world with the epithet Iron Lady, and she certainly was one.

Thatcher came from a regular middle class family, she never could get rid of the calling name “grocer’s daughter”, but her image was completely different. With her unique high-pitched and clearly elocuted upper class English and an elegant, conservative style she always made an impression. In reality, on photos and via radio. Paired with an elegant style that included the trademark handbag, just like the Queen, pearls, large hats and well-cut suits – it all made her one of a kind.

With this unique image Thatcher made her way into politics in England; a very male dominated world where the upper class boys attend the same posh schools and them meet again at leading positions, in the House of Lords and at private gentlemen’s clubs. After first making her way into parliament, Thatcher became a minister and then, in 1979, she became the first democratically elected female head of government of a large western country.

She became known for her market-oriented economic policies and a sceptic attitude towards what is now the EU (still today lingering on in the conservative party in the UK). Thatcher strengthened her country’s position in the world as she became good friends with Ronald Reagan and championed against communism. Through her relative approval of Mikhail Gorbachev she also brought her own country and the USA closer to Russia. Much can be said about the domestic policies and the battles she fought on the home front, some which led her to be hated by some and loved by others, but Thatcher way always true to herself.

Thatcher may not have been a uniting political character, even if not intended, but then again that’s not the Prime Minister’s role in the United Kingdom but more that of the monarch’s. She held her line and made no excuses, the political landscape was divided into strong ideologies. Perhaps then people thought she was too extreme and unwavering in her ways, and ultimately this was what looks to have caused her downfall, but today her iconic status could also signal that people miss politicians who are unique, steadfast and ideological.

After eleven and a half years as Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher left office in 1990. After being challenged in her leadership she left the positions as Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party voluntarily. On the steps of 10 Downing Street Mrs Thatcher said goodbye to some wonderful years and pointed out that she handed over the country in a better shape than it had been when she had taken over in 1979.

After leaving the big political arena Thatcher remained a strong character both at home and around the world. She wrote books, endorsed political candidates in elections and travelled widely to support causes, give interviews and appear at conferences. Few have been honoured with as many prominent portraits as she and Thatcher proudly unveiled most of them.

Queen Elizabeth II, who is said to not always have been at ease with her rather high and strict character (the court curtsies Thatcher performed were infamous), honoured Thatcher with a peerage and in 1992 she entered the House of Lords as Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven. Thatcher was also appointed to the Order of the Garter, an incredible honour, and before all of this even happened Thatcher’s husband was given an hereditary baronetcy in an extraordinary measure.

Despite the divided different opinions of Thatcher and the huge amounts of prizes and accolades she received through the years, her memory will be that as the United Kingdom’s first (and so far only) female Prime Minister and the Iron Lady. A resolute and strict woman who made an enduring impression on both her lifetime and the future; an achievement that very few politicians succeed in today.

The last few years Lady Thatcher lived a pretty quiet and secluded life. Her daughter Carol openly talked to the British media of her mother’s dementia but friends and colleagues bear witness of how she remained very sharp about her own political life until the end and with great interest followed the political life both from a distance and up-close. She suffered several strokes and other health problems but even after officially retiring from public life about a decade ago Lady Thatcher appeared when her health permitted. The last time she was seen as her representative self in higher circles was in 2010 when she could attend for example the Garter Day in Windsor. In April 2011 she was invited to Prince William’s wedding but her health did not permit her attending.

Monday 8 April 2013 Margaret Thatcher passed away at The Ritz in London. Flags at official government buildings, Buckingham Palace included (the Queen was at Windsor) were lowered at half-mast. After her own wishes and the Queen’s permission Thatcher will receive a ceremonial (not state) funeral next Wednesday 17 April at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, attended by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by a private cremation.

Baroness Thatcher changed the game in UK politics and opened doors for women. True to herself she was seen as a strong and determined politician but not played down as “a strong woman” as can be the case for many today. Thatcher left this world as an icon and will so remain into the future. “She stands as an example to our daughters that there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered”, President Obama said yesterday of her legacy.

Margaret Thatcher is survived by two children and two grandchildren.

Obit: Princess Lilian of Sweden, Duchess of Halland (1915-2013)

Princess Lilian at 90On the afternoon of Sunday 10 March 2013 the Welsh-born Lilian, Princess Charming or Mrs Sweden – if she is to take her husband’s common calling names also for herself as is otherwise done with royal titles – died peacefully in her sleep at her home on Royal Djurgården. She was surrounded by the Royal Family.

Lilian May Davies was born on 30 August 1915 in Swansea, Wales, the United Kingdom. The family was poor working class, parents Gladys Mary and William Davies were young and only married a few months before Lilian, who was to be their only child, came into the world. Her mother worked as a shop assistant and her father was a registered soldier and worker in a factory that produced charcoal briquettes. Lilian was christened in the Church of England and went to a local school where education was given in the English language; Welsh was not taught and she therefore never learned the language. As did many other girls at the time, Lilian left school early to help and support the family.

This is about as much as we know about her childhood and youth. She never wanted to talk about it and anyone who has inquired about it has been met with very sparse information, silence from people in the family’s surrounding and many rumours circulating over the years. The Royal Court’s official biography was always very short and focused on her later life, and who doesn’t understand that?
– We lived in a very poor area, a mining district. I stayed there until I turned 18. My life there was really miserable. We were very poor and had to work hard. There was no joy, no life. Nothing, Lilian once told her husband’s biographer Fabian af Petersens.

In 1933, aged 18, Lilian left Wales for London in search of a better life. Dreams were big and competition fierce. As a young girl who was new in a big city and not knowing anyone – the only option was to elbow her way forward. Good looks gave her a chance to appear in magazines and advertising, tiny roles in films and commercials. It has been said that Lilian dreamed of becoming a singer, a wish that did not come true. She is also supposed to have worked in a nightclub – but because there have never been any confirmations about anything, a lot of rumours and many different people stating different “facts”, her role and what club it was has never been straightened out.

Before the war Lilian met her future husband, sound engineer and actor Ivan Craig who introduced her to new exciting circles in London; the world that circled around the big film studios. The couple married in September 1940 in Horsham, Surrey, before he was going out to war. Ivan Craig fought the war and returned as a major, they both found new loves and divorced amicably in 1947.

Lilian eventually became well established in London and could move to a better home in a mews building in Knightsbridge. As a war service she worked in a factory that put together radio parts for the marines and volunteered at a hospital outside London. Among her new neighbours was famous double agent Dusko Popov who, she later told her af Petersens, would bring her perfume and nylon stockings but yet did not manage to make her accept frequent invitations to his parties.

In August 1942 a new Deputy Marine Attaché arrived at the Swedish embassy in London – His Royal Highness Prince Bertil, Duke of Halland – grandson of the King of Sweden, Gustaf V. The placement was made for many reasons; one was to make the young prince forget his latest sweetheart. Little did anyone know that by sending him to London he would instead meet the love of his life. There are many versions of exactly when, where and how they met – friends, Lilian and Bertil all had their own stories of how it went. They all agree, though, that it was connected to her 28th birthday in 1943 and that the young prince greeted Lilian with the words “I am Prince Bertil of Sweden” upon which she replied “How wonderful, I am the Queen of Sheba”.

Prince Bertil and Lilian Craig did not become a couple there and then, but it was a start of something, a friendship, that was to grow. And the start of a partner relationship came with a sudden event… During a large bomb attack when the prince was dining at The Dorchester, he interrupted the conversation and went to the lobby to call Lilian and ask how she was doing. Her scared voice made him leave the event and, dressed in dinner jacket, Prince Bertil drove through Hyde Park as shatters from the attack fell down in the seat beside him. Lilian’s residential area was being closed down because of a non-activated bomb but he went in and fetched her to the car. All hotels were full and without any other solution in sight Prince Bertil asked his Hungarian cook to make up the guest bedroom at his apartment at Edwardes Square, as later told to af Petersens.

After the war Prince Bertil’s position in London ended and he started to travel around the world for Swedish trade and industry, a position that fitted the engaged and relaxed prince like a glove and earned him cordons of appreciation from all directions in Sweden. Although it did not make his relationship to Lilian easy at first, because he did no longer have a base in London, there was a foreseeable future together away from the immediate court control as long as the succession was secured.

In April 1946 the happy news of Carl Gustaf’s birth came and things looked bright. But only nine months later shock and sorrow turned things around with the plane crash and death of Prince Gustaf Adolf. Upon his brother’s death Prince Bertil was called home.
– Suddenly I had come close to the throne. My father demanded that I think of Sweden first and I understood that he was right. We were both in trouble and had no other choice. I felt devastated. It was one of the darkest days of my life. Everything was shattered, Prince Bertil told his biographer af Petersens.

Lilian Craig came to Sweden for the first time in 1946 and then returned for visits regularly. She stayed with Prince Bertil’s close friends and in a borrowed apartment. In 1957 she moved to Stockholm permanently, Prince Bertil had by then bought Villa Solbacken on Royal Djurgården and this became their private sanctuary together with the villa Mirage in Sainte Maxime, France, which he had bought after the war. The vacation home in the French Riviera, with Sainte Maxime not at the time being the busy place it is today, was the only place where Prince Bertil and Lilian could live completely free and open, going about their day as they wished without anyone recognising them.

In the beginning Lilian lived a very quiet life at Villa Solbacken together with a step-aunt but as time passed she dared to go out in Stockholm and live more freely although remaining a well kept royal secret. The couple socialised with a circle of trusted friends and Lilian became a hostess at private events. Prince Bertil once said that it took about ten years before his father realised what was going on. Most of the family remained reserved towards Lilian, especially Princess Sibylla and Queen Ingrid, but they all came around with time. Prince Wilhelm was their earliest supporter, they visited him at Stenhammar on occasion, and Bertil’s brothers Sigvard and Carl Johan were both included in their social lives.

In 1950 Prince Bertil’s father ascended the throne as King Gustaf VI Adolf, leaving only young Carl Gustaf between him and the throne and making him even more important in his royal role. Seeing that Lilian Craig was there to stay and not a fortune-seeker, the family began to open up to her little by little. But there was no talk about marriage or accompanying her prince at official events
– I would only have been able to go to church and would have had to go home afterwards when the rest of the family went to lunch at the Royal Palace. So I watched everything on TV instead. And then I actually felt alone and sad, Lilian told af Petersens about Princess Désirée wanting to invite her to her 1964 wedding with Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld.

The Swedish media kept their gentlemen’s agreement with Prince Bertil about not gossiping about the couple quite well during the years and it was only in the late 1960’s that the relationship became more known and publicised. In 1966 they were pictured at the 50th birthday celebrations of Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg and in 1971 the King visited their vacation home in France. In 1972, for his 90th birthday celebrations, King Gustaf VI Adolf issued Lilian’s first official invitation and she attended looking beautiful and regal wearing Crown Princess Margareta’s laurel wreath tiara.

In 1976 – with King Carl XVI Gustaf on the throne, Queen Silvia next to him and an heir to the throne on the way – things were again looking brighter for Prince Bertil and Lilian’s future together. The monarchy was secured and King Gustaf VI Adolf’s wish that Prince Bertil would wait for his nephew the King to get married first was fulfilled. In October, aged 64 and 61 respectively, the engagement between Prince Bertil and Lilian Craig was announced by the Royal Court.
– At times it has felt difficult to wait and not be able to get married. But now it feels wonderful to become a Swedish princess and feel recognised after all these years. We have known each other for 33 years and are happy to finally have made it, Lilian said as the couple met the press in Tylösand in the Duchy of Halland.

Prince Bertil confessed that the couple regretted that they could not have any children but both emphasized how happy they were with the engagement.
– It has never crossed my mind to act differently than I have. Had I left court and got married my father would have been alone with all the duties. It had been different if my eldest brother had not passed away. Maybe then I had married sooner, Prince Bertil said.

Lilian became a Swedish citizen in November and lysning (reading of the wedding banns) was held in the Palace Church at the Royal Palace of Stockholm. On Tuesday 7 December 1976 their wedding was held in the Palace Church of Drottningholm Palace where a gathering of the closest family, friends, official representatives and court officials watched Mrs Lilian Craig walk down the aisle dressed in a fantastic regal ice blue dress, perfect for the winter month of December, carrying a bouquet of Lilies of the Valley to the tunes of Bach. After a relatively short ceremony, officiated by Archbishop Olof Sundby, the bride curtsied to King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia as the bridal couple walked out of the church and greeted a crowd outside – Lilian then as Her Royal Highness Princess Lilian, Duchess of Halland.

After the wedding ceremony a lunch for the closest family and friends was held at the Royal Palace of Stockholm and King Carl XVI Gustaf held the only speech – welcoming Lilian to the family by handing over a recipe for “cheese soufflé à la Lilian”:
– Charm and humour is sizzled, personality is added. Wisdom is added while stirring. Patience and judgement is spread over the finished dish. Glitter and smiles are spread over abundantly. Cooked with great patience, baking time thirty-three years. And now I quote the cookbook again: “the result is superb”.

Princess Lilian took Sweden with storm – her natural way, great charm, sense of humour, style and regal appearance combined into one made her a natural for the princess role. And what is often the greatest vice and strongest point of criticism for many royals – not mastering the language of their country – instead became a part of Princess Lilian’s charm. She did take Swedish lessons and could manage to read and watch TV but never developed a big vocabulary and ended up sticking to English – it was the language she spoke with Prince Bertil and the Royal Family, and the Swedish people she met as well. Wherever she went people loved to practice English with her and she could speak French when called for.

During all the years Prince Bertil and Princess Lilian kept a small apartment in Mayfair, London, to which they returned regularly. The Prince had a great relationship with parts of the British Royal Family that went back to his early childhood with holidays to visit his grandparents the Connaught’s and relations were kept warm through the years. London is also were Lilian had her dear friend and seamstress, designer of many of her wonderful gala gowns, Elizabeth Wondrak.

Prince Bertil and Princess Lilian shared their sense of humour, which can be called naughty or wicked, and practical jokes – tested and used as a successful ice breakers on many world leaders over the years. They also shared a love of food, cooking in their home and dining with gourmet friends like Swedish culinary legend and close friend Tore Wretman, and the prince was famous for loving the basic traditional Swedish cuisine called husmanskost. Through Prince Bertil she learned to enjoy sports and over the years they travelled to numerous Olympic Games together, Princess Lilian became a regular at tennis competitions (especially Stockholm Open) and their foundation was created to support the further development of sports leaders.

Prince Bertil remained incredibly active in his royal work into the early 1990’s and apart from their own activities, with patronages and personal royal duties, he and Princess Lilian attended most big royal occasions – from state visits to the National Day and the Nobel festivities. When Prince Bertil passed away in January 1997 Sweden lost a favourite royal and apart from great sorrow for the family there was also a great manifestation of love for the prince from the people and Princess Lilian always said that she was so happy and grateful every time someone came up to her to say how much they appreciated her husband.

After her husband’s death Princess Lilian could be seen dining at her favourite restaurants with close friends, shopping at markets in Stockholm and attending social events. In the summer of 1997 the Royal Family bought the yellow labrador Bingo for her, a dog that became her constant companion at home and a regular co-poser in photographs.

Queen Silvia was a great friend and confidante who the princess described more like a sister than anything else. In her memoir book from year 2000 Princess Lilian praised the Queen for the incredible support received after the death of Prince Bertil; with the Queen camping at her bedside in the beginning, always caring to see how she was doing and regular phone calls going back and forth. This was a friendship that lasted through the years, starting in the early 1970’s when Silvia Sommerlath was presented to Prince Bertil and her. And even though many close friends of Lilian have passed away before her, two close friends that have remained since she first moved to Sweden is Dagmar von Arbin and Countess Gunnila Bernadotte af Wisborg who both socialised with her and Bertil from the early years.

The King and Queen’s children became very dear to Prince Bertil and Princess Lilian who gladly admitted that they loved to spoil their “grandchildren” and the appreciation and love was mutual – Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine were all close to “auntie Lilian”. In her 2000 memoirs, Princess Lilian describes them respectively:

– When she has time she visits me. Often I find her lying in the floor where she cuddles and horses around with Bingo, my labrador. She’s open, happy and inquisitive and will surely be a great queen when the time comes. We have looked at my diademe and I have told her that she will have it. I got it from Bertil. It once belonged to his mother.

– I usually get real big bear hugs from him when we meet. It has also happened that he has asked “old auntie” to dance. Villa Solbacken is bequeathed to him after my death. Bertil was his godfather. Because Carl Philip, as Bertil was, is interested in engines I thought he should have Bertil’s pearl blue Porsche. The handing over took place on the Riviera. We both cried. I hope Carl Philip will walk in Prince Bertil’s footsteps. He has all the prerequisites.

– Princess Madeleine is very pretty and attractive but much more serious than her older siblings. She takes school very ambitiously – reads all the time, I think – and like many girls in that age lives for her horses.

Princess Lilian continued with royal engagements and did not scale down her schedule considerably until after turning 90 in 2005. The Nobel Prize awarding ceremony and banquet were her first official royal engagements as a princess and the last time she attended was in 2006, after which the lengthy arrangements were considered too demanding for her. She continued appearing with the family at some important events until 2008.

– The best thing about being older is that I didn’t die young, Princess Lilian said before her 80th birthday. Today we can certainly say that she did not – yesterday she passed away at the respectable age of 97. When she buried Prince Bertil in 1997 she had two wishes: a big bouquet of Lilies of the Valley for his coffin and Nat “King” Cole’s “Unforgettable” at the funeral service, it was sung by Lisa Nilsson in the Palace Church that time.

– I’m not afraid to die. When that moment comes I know that I will rest at my beloved husband’s side at Haga, she wrote in her memoirs.

Perhaps Prince Bertil and Princess Lilian’s song “Unforgettable” will be performed again for her funeral, we don’t know any details yet. But the funeral service will probably take place in the Palace Church followed by a private burial ceremony at Haga. Princess Lilian will be laid to rest next to Princess Bertil, at the gravestone carved in gneiss from Bårarp in Halland – their duchy.

PHOTO: Princess Lilian on her 90th birthday in 2005, photo by Claes-Göran Carlsson/The Royal Court.

Obit: Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg (1916-2012)

Count Carl Johan Bernadotte as a princeSurrounded by his closest family, Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg peacefully died at the Ängelholm hospital yesterday 5 May at 9 PM. He was the last surviving child of King Gustaf VI Adolf and Crown Princess Margareta, sixth-longest living Bernadotte descendant (calculation courtesy of Ted Rosvall) and last living great-grandchild of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom

After an initial short and dry comment, simply notifying about the death on the Royal Court’s website, King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia has though the press and information department given the following statement late today (translated by me from Swedish):

Count Carl Johan was a dear and loved family member who meant a lot for the whole family though his kindness and humour. We will remember Carl Johan as a respected and charming relative who we always held in high esteem, not the least though the knowledge which he so generously shared about our family’s history.

Born in the early morning at 4:30 AM on Tuesday 31 October 1916 at the Royal Palace of Stockholm, he was the fifth child of Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf and Crown Princess Margareta. He was named Carl Johan Arthur and given the title Duke of Dalarna and would be called Carl Johan it was announced as his birth was celebrated by a Te Deum (thanksgiving) at the Palace Church of the Royal Palace of Stockholm. At his christening on 4 December 1916, held in the green drawing room of the Royal Palace and officiated by Archbishop Nathan Söderblom, King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria, the Duke and Duchess of Connaught, Grand Duchess Luise of Baden, King Christian X of Denmark, Queen Mary of the United Kingdom and Grand Duchess Augusta of Mecklenburg were named as godparents.

Together with his siblings Gustaf Adolf (1906-1947), Sigvard (1907-2002), Ingrid (1910-2000) and Bertil (1912-1997), he grew up in their parent’s apartment at the Royal Palace of Stockholm in a world ruled by strict etiquette at the court of his grandparents King Gustaf V and Queen Victoria. But the siblings spent more time with their parents than any generation before them; Crown Princess Margareta was a modern royal woman for her time and insisted on breastfeeding her children and being with them as much as she could. When their mother was not around, busy with royal duties or artistic creating, a petite and decisive British nanny was there to care for and keep them company. Both the Crown Princess and the nanny spoke English with the children and every day possible they children had tea with their mother and sometimes also their father. The nanny, or Nana as she was called, came to mean especially much for Carl Johan.

Summer meant freedom for the Crown Prince’s family. Every year, after celebrating the day of the Swedish flag (today the national day) the royal couple and their children would pack their belongings and leave on a train for the south of Sweden. The destination was always Sofiero, their summer home that had been given to Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf and Crown Princess Margareta as a wedding gift in 1905, and there they could dress more freely and spend time together almost as a normal family.
– Here father had time to play with us. Otherwise the big moments were when father looked in and played with me and my beloved tin soldiers at home at the palace. Imagine, he drew the positions of the soldiers with crayon on the parquet floor! Carl Johan told Helsingborgs Dagblad in 2006.

At Sofiero the family lived a more relaxed life with fewer staff and without court etiquette ruling their days. The children went horseback riding, swimming in the sea, playing on the beach and gardened with their mother – who had created the gardens and decorated Sofiero in the years after they received it. Carl Johan, as the youngest, could escape some chores such as helping in the garden and preferred playing croquet with one of the male staff members. From Sofiero the family also made day trips, visited friends and family in Skåne and across the sea in Denmark where the Danish Royal Family was at a closer distance than Stockholm.

During holidays, and especially the summers, visits to relatives in England were paid. Maternal grandfather Prince Arthur, the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, also came to Sofiero and Carl Johan and his siblings in their turn went to stay with him at Bagshot Park and Clarence House. In his memoirs Carl Johan also recalls developing a relatonship with two of his Connaught cousins, the (then) Earl of Macduff and Alexander Ramsay.

In 1920, only aged 3,5 years, Carl Johan and his siblings lost their mother. It was a huge blow to the Crown Prince and Sweden grieved a future Queen who had become immensely popular by bringing in modern ideas to the family, creating a profile for her herself and showing off a truly lovely family image. After her death Crown Princess Margareta was not spoken of in the family and because of this Carl Johan lost most of the memory of his mother. The only one who tried to talk to him and his siblings about her was one of the Crown Princess’ ladies-in-waitings, Stina Reuterswärd. Only three years after their mother’s death their father remarried to Lady Louise Mountbatten, another member of the British Royal Family who became their stepmother and would eventually become Queen.

After attending school at the Royal Palace, with a small class of selected fellow students, Carl Johan went on to study at the Lundsberg boarding school in Värmland in western Sweden. After graduating in 1935 he followed the princely path and enrolled in the military where he became second lieutenant in the cavalry and infantry before rising in the ranks to lieutenant and then captain. During the war Carl Johan was part of an armoured division in active service but after the peace he became part of the reserve and left the military in 1948.

Parallel to his early military service Carl Johan also studied at what is today Stockholm University, taking classes that aimed towards achieving a Master of Political Science, and he was also active at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs during and after his studies. But the war came in-between his plans for a degree and a professional career as a diplomat.

In 1939, on his 23rd birthday, Carl Johan met the woman who was to become his first wife at the posh restaurant Cecil in Stockholm. Kerstin Wijkmark was her name, she was the daughter of a high academic Doctor of Theology who had divorced her first husband and lived the high life in Stockholm as a publicist and magazine editor. Her social circles, a mix of the upper class circles and well established and famous people in entertainment and art, opened a whole new world for Carl Johan who had lived a restricted life as a prince. Their relationship was, however, not meet with mild eyes by the court circles and the prince’s grandfather and high ranking members of the Royal Court did everything they could to steer off a marriage.

After six years of relationship, on 21 May 1945, the engagement of Prince Carl Johan and Kerstin Wijkmark was announced to the press (not by the court, of course). No one in his family approved of the plans and he did not get the required marriage permission from his grandfather King Gustaf V, but both were aware that whatever would be his royal life would end. Even after trying to stop the future bride to get a visa to the USA, the family could only stand by as Carl Johan and Kerstin travelled across the Atlantic to start a new life together. On 19 February 1946 they married in Riverside Church in New York, a ceremony conducted by the parish pastor and with only some thirty guests attending. Prince Wilhelm, the groom’s uncle, was the only royal to congratulate on the marriage through a short telegram. A few days later, on 22 February 1946, the official decree removing Carl Johan’s titles and decorations was approved at a Council of State meeting at the Royal Palace of Stockholm.

Standing on his own for the very first time, the business world became Carl Johan’s choice of career to try and support the family. The couple lived in a small apartment, Kerstin continued to work in her magazine world and Carl Johan’s royal past led the couple to socialize with the A-list celebrities of the time.
– Of course it was a difficult time when I “defected”. But it didn’t mean a personal break with my father who was then Crown Prince. It was within the court that they were the most critical. They probably thought they did my father a favour. For me it was a great relief when the matter was finally settled and we could marry when we had been together for seven years, Carl Johan said in a 1983 interview.

Relations with the Royal Family remained tense but gradually became better after Carl Johan’s father became king as Gustaf VI Adolf in 1950. Kerstin and his father came on better terms as the years went by, and the family relationship was also helped by her and Carl Johan’s adoption of two children: Christian in 1950 and Monica (from Austria) in 1951. In 1951 Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg conferred the comital af Wisborg title on Carl Johan on the request of King Gustaf VI Adolf and he accepted although being happy to only be a plain Mr Bernadotte.

After around six years living in New York the couple moved on to Paris and later London where Carl Johan’s business positions took him and they also kept an apartment in Stockholm where they eventually came to live more permanently. In 1973 their villa Kungsberga in Båstad was built and this is also where Kerstin died in 1987.

When King Gustaf VI Adolf died in September 1973, his sons followed the coffin on its motorcade journey from the hospital in Helsingborg to Sofiero where it was dressed by the staff before transportation to Stockholm.
– I remember my father as a man with astonishingly many interests and a sarcastic humour. He was a democrat but kept his distance, for example he never gave interviews, Count Carl Johan once said about him.

After becoming a widower Count Carl Johan rekindled his friendship with Gunnila Bussler (née Countess Wachtmeister af Johannishus), a sister of his childhood friend Claes who he had first met at a visit to Tistad, the castle where her family lived, during an Easter break from school. He was 14 and she was 7 and in the years after they came to meet from time to time at social events and though family connections. In 1987 they were both widowed, she worked in a shop in Stockholm and they started a new kind of relationship.

On 29 September 1988 Count Carl Johan and Gunnila Bussler married in the Gustaf Church in Copenhagen followed by a dinner at Fredensborg Palace. His sister Queen Ingrid was the host of the festivities and she was delighted with the marriage; Gunnila was a person she knew of and who had been in the royal circles since childhood, they immediately liked each other and Carl Johan’s relationship with his sister, which had taken a toll during his first marriage, greatly improved again.
– It meant incredibly much to me that my sister was so involved in our marriage. She was the first one I told, in all secrecy, about the coming wedding between me and Gunnila. Ingrid was an important person in my life and it felt important that she liked my choice of coming wife, the Count said in an interview some years ago.

Together Carl Johan and Gunnila managed to connect their families in a great way, they both had two children each from their first marriages and came to treat their respective children and grandchildren as their joint family; never making a difference between who was whose. When married they spent the winters at an estate near Countess Gunnila’s family home Tistad, the summers at Kungsberga in Båstad and some time in an apartment in Stockholm. When residing in the capital they had an active relation to Prince Bertil and Princess Lilian whom they shared many friends with. Later in life they came to settle almost completely in Båstad.

The Count once described his second marriage as “a second breath”. When asked to picture the best period of his life in an interview with Helsingborgs Dagblad, done in connection to his 90th birthday, he said:
– It must be separated in three parts. The first was during my storming love for Kerstin. The other was my professional life when I had to support the family as a businessman. Right now the third period, where I am married to Gunnila and am very happy, is ongoing.

In Båstad the Count and Countess were very active locally. When invited to open or attend events they went, supporting local business life and the region was something they felt very strongly for. Count Carl Johan was an active golf player and when age restrained him he took to Nordic walking. Tennis was another passion, for many years he and the Countess attended the annual tennis week in Båstad and for his 90th birthday in 2006 a foundation in the Count’s name for tennis talents at the local high school was initiated.

As Båstad is closer to Copenhagen than Stockholm, the Count and Countess had had an active relationship with the family in Denmark. Queen Margrethe visited the couple in Båstad several times and vice versa as going over the sound to Denmark is easier than travelling to Stockholm. Count Carl Johan remained close to his sister Queen Ingrid throughout her life and the Count also enjoyed excellent relationships with Queen Margrethe and King Carl XVI Gustaf who both invited him and Gunilla to big official events. When Carl Johan visited Stockholm in later years, King Carl Gustaf also let him use an apartment at the Royal Palace.

Sofiero remained close to the Count’s heart to the end, never forgetting those sweet childhood summers spent there, and he visited as often as possible and in 1996 took part in an SVT documentary about it.
– Father asked the question if I wanted to take over Sofiero. But I couldn’t afford it. It took seven gardeners to keep the place tidy. No, it was good what happened. The city of Helsingborg takes good care of the castle which I visit as often as I can, he told Landskrona Posten in 2011.

In 2005, when Sofiero celebrated the centennial since Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf and Crown Princess Margareta took over and rejuvenated the residence, a big Bernadotte family gathering was held with over 40 family members attending. Carl Johan and Gunnila also hosted a private family dinner at Kungsberga for their Danish and Swedish relatives at the time. As late as last summer, Count Carl Johan opened a jubilee exhibition about his sister Queen Ingrid at Sofiero.

On 31 October 2011 Count Carl Johan celebrated his 95th birthday at Kungsberga. He was surrounded by family and friends after prior to the day having been celebrated with a dinner at Drottningholm Palace attended by King Carl Gustaf, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel and Prince Carl Philip. Only recently the Count expressed wishes to have enough strength to attend Princess Estelle’s christening in Stockholm on 22 May.

Yesterday Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg closed his eyes forever – a cheerful, curious, kind and stubborn (as he described himself in a Svenska Dagbladet interview in 1996) man has left this world with a unique legacy. May he rest in peace.

Elsewhere: to view photos from the Count’s life, go here to Sydsvenska Dagbladet’s photos.