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The Royal Burial Ground at Haga

The Royal Burial Ground

In the early twentieth century it became apparent that the Bernadotte crypt in the Riddarholmen Church, the traditional royal burial church of Swedish monarchs from 1632 to 1950 (with the exception of Queen Christina), was becoming quite full and that alternatives had to be sought for the future. Unless an extension was made, and this was not considered a good option considering the historical value and age of the church, it was advised that it could only continue to be used as a burial church for the monarchs and their consorts.

Around the same time Prince Carl, Duke of Västergötland, son of King Oscar II and Queen Sophia of Sweden, had thoughts about creating a cemetery for the more junior members of the ruling dynasty, and it didn’t take long before he had acquired a setting for it. In 1915 he took over Karlsborg, a small islet in the Brunnsviken Bay that connects Stockholm city with a part of unique countryside, situated in the big and beautiful Haga Park; a favourite recreational area for Stockholm inhabitants.

Karlsborg couldn’t be closer to nature; surrounded by water and with hundreds of years old trees such as lime, willow, alms, oak and pine trees, it is a world apart from the austere medieval Riddarholmen Church and its dark crypts. Immediately after Karlsborg was acquired Prince Carl ordered plans for a mausoleum with crypt from architect Ferdinand Boberg, but the plans never realised. Instead, all that came to be built on the islet was a granite crucifix on its highest point and a stone bridge with iron gates, both probably designed by Boberg as well. Where there are not graves, Karlsborg continues to be left in its natural state with hills covered in grass, big trees and some other wild vegetation.

In 1922 the early deceased Crown Princess Margareta came to be the first royal to be buried at the Royal Burial Ground. The quite religious British-born supposed future Queen Consort of Sweden had died in complications of several afflictions, weakened by an advanced sixth pregnancy, aged only 38 and was deeply mourned by family, public officials and the people. After the funeral of Queen Sophia in 1914, which she obviously thought was much too gloomy and dark, the Crown Princess wrote down instructions for how she wanted her own death to be handled.

Crown Princess Margareta did not find the Riddarholmen Church a good place for her eternal rest; instead she wanted to have it somewhere in the free nature. The Crown Princess also asked that the funeral church was not dressed in black, as was the tradition at the time, and left instructions for a simple coffin, no display of orders, lots of fresh flowers and lit candles. She also wanted to hold a crucifix in her hand and added that should her children still be young to let them be dressed in white, also at the burial. Little did anyone know how useful these instructions would be not that many years later.

The Royal Burial Ground

After a temporary burial at the Stockholm Cathedral in 1920, Crown Princess Margareta was laid to rest at the new Royal Burial Ground at Haga in a ceremony performed by Archbishop Nathan Söderblom in 1922. This came to be the inauguration of the new burial ground.

When you walk over the stone bridge and enter through the iron gates you first walk over a small gravel area, this is where car parks during a burial or when relatives come to visit, before coming to some steps.

At the Royal Burial Ground

After you have walked up those steps, uphill, there is a small path to you right.

The Royal Burial Ground

If you follow that path you will pass the graves of:

1) King Gustaf VI Adolf (1882-1973) together with Crown Princess Margareta (1882-1920) and Queen Louise (1889-1965)

Inscription of King Gustaf VI Adolf, Queen Louise & Crown Princess Margareta

2) Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg (1916-2012)

Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg's grave

3) Prince Bertil (1912-1997) and Princess Lilian (1915-2013)

Prince Bertil's grave

4) Prince Carl (1861-1951) together with Princess Ingeborg (1878-1958) and Prince Carl (1911-2003)

Grave of Prince Carl, Princess Ingeborg & Prince Carl Jr

5) Count Sigvard Bernadotte af Wisborg (1907-2002)

Count Sigvard Bernadotte af Wisborg's grave

Walking back that same path, to where you started, there is a small gravel path up the hill.

The Royal Burial Ground

On top of the hill, at the highest point of the islet, you will find the Bernadotte crucifix and the grave of Prince Gustaf Adolf (1906-1947) and Princess Sibylla (1908-1972).

Prince Gustaf Adolf & Princess Sibylla's grave

If you look down from there, this is the view…

The Royal Burial Ground

All tombs have large rectangular stones inscribed with names and titled on them. Rows of flowers are planted as decorations and mark the area of each grave. As the cemetery is only open to the public one day per week during the summer months, royal relations to those buried there often visit the graves to lay flowers for special anniversaries.

To view more of my photos from the Royal Cemetery at Haga, please visit my
Flickr album devoted to it and my visits there.

A visit to Princess Lilian’s grave

Floral tributes at Princess Lilian's grave

Floral tributes at Princess Lilian’s grave

Today I went to pay my last respects at the grave of Princess Lilian at the Royal Burial Ground at Haga. Just as the funeral day this past Saturday, this Monday was a cold day with icy winds reaching through all layers of clothes and snowflakes tumbling down from the sky.

At the Royal Burial Ground

Just like after Prince Bertil’s funeral in 1997 the Royal Burial Ground has been extra open to allow members of the public to pay their last respects, normally the site is only open occasionally during the warm summer months. Since yesterday was a Sunday I thought that it would perhaps be a better idea to go today, a regular Monday, as I had the possibility to do so and thought that there might be less people there because of it. That did not turn out to be the case…

Tributes at Princess Lilian's grave

At the gates to the burial ground was a constant stream of people coming and going, that it was not a sunny day like yesterday Sunday did not seem to be of any hindrance whatsoever. Old and young, children and even a few dogs gathered in large crowds around the temporary blue cloth that covers the opening to the tomb were Princess Lilian’s coffin had been lowered. The heavy gravestone carved in gneiss from Bårarp in Halland has been moved to the side and all the beautiful wreaths and other floral tributes placed on and around the cloth that covers the temporary setting.

Tributes at Princess Lilian's grave

Princess Lilian’s last resting place was a sea of flowers to which a constant stream of people came to look and some to place their own flowers, cards or candles among them. In the good Swedish tradition a line was formed so that everyone could have the chance to walk around and see, but at times there were so many people that the line was double or triple. I took my time to look at all the different tributes though I have to say that the current cold spring, now even with more snow, had not treated the flowers, which are not made for such climate, very well. But it was indeed a beautiful tribute and it’s hard to imagine a more heart-warming send-off for Princess Lilian than the masses of people and many beautiful tributes at her last resting place.

Tributes at Princess Lilian's grave
Tributes at Princess Lilian's grave
Tributes at Princess Lilian's grave

Because of weather and wind, and also the amount of flowers, it was not easy to see each individual tribute but I did my best and from what I could spot there were fifteen floral decorations from royal descendants.

Carl Gustaf, Silvia

(King Carl XVI Gustaf & Queen Silvia of Sweden)

Victoria, Daniel, Estelle

(Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, Princess Estelle of Sweden)

Carl Philip, Madeleine, Christopher

(Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine of Sweden, Christopher O’Neill)

Margaretha, Birgitta, Désirée, Christina med familjer

(Princess Margaretha Mrs Ambler, Princess Birgitta of Sweden and Hohenzollern, Princess Christina Mrs Magnuson with families)


(Countess Gunnila Bernadotte af Wisborg, widow of Count Carl Johan)


(Countess Marianne Bernadotte af Wisborg, widow of Count Sigvard)

Mica, Ebba, Marianne, Carl Johan

(Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg’s daughter Monica Bonde af Björnö with children)

Christian & Marianne

(son of Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg with wife)

With tender affection
Madeleine Bernadotte Kogevinas

(daughter of Prince Carl Bernadotte)

Prince Oscar Bernadotte’s family


(Queen Margrethe and the Prince Consort of Denmark)

Kronprins Frederik
Kronprinsesse Mary

(Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark)


(Prince Richard zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and Princess Benedikte of Denmark)


(King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of Greece)


(the Norwegian Royal Family)

Some of the other floral tributes came from the government, the county governors of Sweden together, Halland County, Stockholm County, the County Governor of Stockholm, the City of Stockholm, the staff of the Royal Court, the Wallenberg family, the Ulla Winbladh restaurant (Princess Lilian was a regular), The Royal Lawn Tennis Club of Stockholm, The Swedish Sports Confederation, KAK (The Royal Automobile Club), SOS Children’s Villages (a favourite charity of Princess Lilian, she was protector) and the editorial office of Svensk Damtidning.

Tributes at Princess Lilian's grave

To view more of my photos from the Royal Burial Ground at Haga, please visit my
Flickr album devoted to it and my visits there.

A visit to Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg’s grave

This past Thursday, 24 May, a friend and I went to pay our last respects at the grave of Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg at the Royal Burial Ground at Haga. The Count, who died aged 95 in a hospital on 5 May, was interred at the Royal Burial Ground after a memorial service at the Palace Church of the Royal Palace of Stockholm and following small private burial ceremony on 15 May.

Count Carl Johan’s grave has been set next to that of his father King Gustaf VI Adolf, mother Crown Princess Margareta and stepmother Queen Louise on one side and his brother Prince Bertil’s one the other. To read more about the Royal Burial Ground and its layout, please visit my post about it (there you will also get the full picture of where the Count’s grave is situated in relation to the others).

Grave of Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg

Because Thursday was the first opening time of the Royal Burial Ground since the funeral, the wreaths were still left on top of the temporary blue cloth that covers the grave. I counted to seventeen of them in total and inscribed on them were:

Grave of Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg


(the Count’s widowed wife)

Christian & Marianne
Christina, Richard, Philip

(the Count and Kerstin Wijkmark’s son with wife and children)

Ebba, Marianne, Carl Johan

(the Count and Kerstin Wijkmark’s daughter with children)

Fred & Eva
John, Oscar, Jacob

Countess Gunnila’s son in her first marriage with wife and probably children)

Hedda, Anna

(Countess Gunnila’s daughter in her first marriage and probably her children)

King Carl XVI Gustaf & Queen Silvia of Sweden

(monogrammed ribbon)

Crown Princess Victoria & Prince Daniel of Sweden

(monogrammed ribbon)


(probably Princess Lilian of Sweden)

Carl Philip
“Vi kommer sakna din värme och ditt fina stöd”

(Prince Carl Philip and Princess Madeleine of Sweden, the inscription in English would be “We will miss your warmth and your lovely support”)

Madeleine Kogevinas
Kristine Bernadotte
“Tack för alla ljusa minnen”

(Madeleine Kogevinas is the daughter of Prince Carl Bernadotte and Elsa von Rosen and Princess Kristine Bernadotte is the widdow or Prince Carl Bernadotte, the inscription in English would be “Thank you for all the bright memories”) Continue reading