Tag Archives: order of the seraphim

Order of the Seraphim’s bell tolling for Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern

Last Saturday, 12 March, I attended the Order of the Seraphim’s bell tolling in memory of Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016), husband of King Carl XVI Gustaf’s sister Princess Birgitta, at the Riddarholmen Church in Stockholm.

As per tradition, the bell of the Riddarholmen Church tolls for one hour between noon and 1 PM on the funeral day of a knight or member of the Order of the Seraphim, during which members of the public may visit the church and pay their respects. At some point after the service, the seraphim shield of the deceased is then mounted on the walls of the church. Since 1807 the Riddarholmen Church is no longer an active church but functions only as a royal resting place and church for the Order of the Seraphim, making the bell ceremonies after the death of a knight or member of the order one of the very few times one can hear the bell toll and visit the church as an active one.

Order of the Seraphim's bell tolling for Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016)

King Carl XVI Gustaf had ordered flags to be flown at half-mast at the Royal Palace of Stockholm, Drottningholm Palace and Slottsbacken 2 until 1:30 PM on this day. Prince Johann Georg’s seraphim shield was taken from the Royal Palace to the Riddarholmen Church by a grenadier escort and placed on a table at the chancel of the church where a small group of musicians from the Life Guards were positioned. The bell tolled for one hour during which the musicians performed a few pieces of music and Tom Bergroth, senior curator at the Royal Orders of Knighthood, read out the basic details of the prince’s life in Swedish and German.

Order of the Seraphim's bell tolling for Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016)

Prince Johann Georg was, together with his brother Fürst Friedrich Wilhelm (d. 2010), appointed to Knight of the Order of the Seraphim in connection with his marriage to Princess Birgitta in 1961.

Order of the Seraphim's bell tolling for Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016)

Prince Johann Georg’s funeral took place at the Hedinger Church in Sigmaringen, part of a former Franciscan monastery and the final resting place for the Sigmaringen branch of the house of Hohenzollern. Apart from the widow Princess Birgitta and members of the Hohenzollern families guests included King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, Prince Carl Philip of Sweden, Princess Désirée Baroness Silfverschiöld, Baron Niclas Silfverschiöld, Princess Christina Mrs Magnuson and Sibylla von Dincklage represented Princess Margaretha Mrs Ambler. From the German houses guests included Margrave Max of Baden, Duke Franz of Bavaria, Duke Max in Bavaria, Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia and Prince Andreas of Sachsen-Coburg and Gotha.

Order of the Seraphim's bell tolling for Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016)

Order of the Seraphim's bell tolling for Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016)

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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Princess Lilian’s death: court mourning and funeral details

Prince Bertil's grave at the Royal Burial Ground at Haga

Prince Bertil’s grave at the Royal Burial Ground at Haga

After Princess Lilian’s death this past Sunday, 10 March, The Royal Court has been more than busy. At the moment King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia are hosting a state visit from the President of Turkey which has a busy schedule and requires lots of staff and attention to detail. At the same time the court is observing mourning and preparing the Duchess of Halland’s funeral behind the scenes.

The first consequence of Princess Lilian’s death was the traditional ‘toll of mourning’ from the church bells of inner city Stockholm; this took place between 8 and 8:10 AM yesterday morning. Usually the royal mourning bells toll for thirty minutes, this last happened at the death of Prince Bertil in 1997, but for some reason the King had decided it would only last ten minutes this time. King Carl Gustaf also decided that while the flags on the royal residences were to be flown at half mast until after the funeral, an exception is in place at the Royal Palace of Stockholm during the state visit from Turkey, ending on the evening of Wednesday 13 March.

Lists were the public can write their condolences will be put out in the Hall of State at the Royal Palace of Stockholm on Wednesday 13 March and Thursday 14 March between 11 AM and 2 PM. Then on Friday 15 March members of the public will have a chance to pay their last respects to Princess Lilian as her coffin will lie in state in the Royal Palace Church between 12 PM and 3 PM, a shorter period than her late husband Prince Bertil but probably with the same beautiful solemn setting.

The funeral ceremony for Princess Lilian will be held on Saturday 16 March at 1 PM. The service will be led by Chief Court Chaplain Lars-Göran Lönnermark, the Pastor of the Royal Court Parish Michael Bjerkhagen and probably also the Chaplain of the Anglican Episcopal Church in Stockholm, The Church of St Peter and St Sigfrid, the Reverend Nicholas Howe.

A royal sized badge of The Order of the Seraphim

A royal sized badge of The Order of the Seraphim

As a member of The Order of the Seraphim, Sweden’s highest state order, the bells of the Riddarholmen Church not far from the palace will toll between 12 PM and 1 PM – as is the tradition on the funeral day of a deceased Knight or Member. This is called ‘seraphim ringing’ and afterwards the deceased Knight or Member’s seraphim shield is hung on the church’s walls.

Princess Lilian received the Order of the Seraphim for her 80th birthday in 1995, just after the Swedish parliament enabled members of the Royal House to receive orders again after a law change for Crown Princess Victoria’s age of majority.