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.
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.
After you have walked up those steps, uphill, there is a small path to you right.
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)
2) Count Carl Johan Bernadotte af Wisborg (1916-2012)
3) Prince Bertil (1912-1997) and Princess Lilian (1915-2013)
4) Prince Carl (1861-1951) together with Princess Ingeborg (1878-1958) and Prince Carl (1911-2003)
5) Count Sigvard Bernadotte af Wisborg (1907-2002)
Walking back that same path, to where you started, there is a small gravel path up the hill.
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).
If you look down from there, this is the view…
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.