Sunday, March 10, 2013

Bertil & Lilian

all photos from my private collection
From my book, Queen Victoria's Descendants:

"In 1972, at the Munich Olympic Games, the young Crown Prince Carl Gustaf met a young German woman, Silvia Sommerlath, where she was working as a translator. Over the next few years, the couple maintained a discreet relationship. Because the Swedish constitution did not at the time permit marriages between a Prince of the Royal House and a commoner, Carl Gustaf and Miss Sommerlath were not married until 1976, three years after he succeeded to the throne. The following year, Queen Silvia gave birth to a daughter, Princess Victoria. But until the birth of a son, Carl Philip, two years later, the heir to the throne was the King's uncle, Prince Bertil, the Duke of Halland. Because of this link to the throne, it was agreed that Prince Bertil, who for many years had been living discreetly with the Welsh-born Lilian Craig, should be allowed to marry without losing either his rank or right of succession. 

Six months after the King's wedding, Prince Bertil married Mrs. Craig. Not only did Prince Bertil retain his royal rank and place in the succession, his wife became HRH Princess Lilian of Sweden, Duchess of Halland. Their marriage is said to have caused no little resentment among Bertil's brothers and cousins who had to surrender their rights on marrying commoners. In fact, the special arrangement made for Prince Bertil recognized the sacrifice he had made in giving up his marriage plans years before and thereby forfeiting the opportunity of starting a family himself.

Bertil was a naval attache stationed in London during the war when he met Lilian Craig in a night club. At the time, she was separated from her husband, an actor, Ian Craig; and following their divorce, Lilian joined Bertil in Sweden, although the relationship did not have the approval of Bertil's grandfather or the Swedish government largely because of his position as heir presumptive. Bertil continued to carry out royal duties, but his love for Lilian never wavered; and it was not until the early 1970s, when Bertil's aged father, King Gustaf VI Adolf, allowed the couple to appear together in public.

Prince Bertil's own background has been largely overlooked by biographers. He served in the Swedish Navy, and in the late 1930s, he was an assistant naval attache at the Swedish Embassy in Paris. Motor racing was a favorite sport throughout the 1930s, but Prince Bertil later turned to golf and the French game, Boule.

During World War II, he was appointed the commander of a Swedish PT boat squadron. Prince Bertil is an admiral in the Royal Navy and a General in Sweden's Army and Air Force.

Prince Bertil also worked for the Export Association of Sweden, and led many overseas trade delegations. He was also the Honorary Chairman of the general Export Association of Sweden, and President of the Royal Automobile Club, the Swedish Sports Federation and the Swedish Olympic Committee.

Prince Bertil died at his home, Villa Solbakken, at Djurgarden, an island in Stockholm, on January 5th, 1997.

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