Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Princess Birgitta of Sweden turns 85

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A Forty-two cannon salute in Stockholm heralded the birth of the second daughter of  Hereditary Prince Gustaf Adolf and his wife, Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who was born at the Haga Palace on January 19, 1937.   The new princess was named Birgitta Ingeborg Alice.  

all of these images  Marlene A Eilers Koenig Collection

Hereditary Prince Gustaf Adolf was second in line to the Swedish throne.  As the succession law was based on Salic law, only males could inherit the throne, which meant that Birgitta and her three sisters and their descendants did not have dynastic rights.

Princess Birgitta attended a French school in Stockholm before receiving a university qualification to teach in public school, where she was addressed as Instructor and not Princess.

Hereditary Prince Gustaf Adolf was killed in a plane crash in Copenhagen in 1947, leaving Sibylla to raise their five children.  Their only son, Carl Gustaf, was nearly nine months old when his father was killed.

In the fall of 1960, Princess Birgitta and her younger sister, Princess Desiree visited Chicago and New York City, where they represented their grandfather for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the American-Scandinavian Foundation.  Chicago Mayor Richard Daley gave a ball in honor of the two princesses

[It was not until 1980 when the new gender-equal succession law went into effect, making King Carl XVI Gustaf's daughter, Victoria, as Crown Princess.  The law was not retroactive, and the king's four older sisters remained excluded from the succession.

all of these images: Marlene A Eilers Koenig Collection

Birgitta and her two sisters, Margaretha and Desiree, were among  Europe's most eligible princesses.  British newspapers reported in May 1957 that Birgitta was involved in a romance with a Swedish hockey player Sven "Tumba" Johansson.  The Swedish Lord  High Chamberlain called the report "Preposterous, completely unfounded." This was echoed by Sven's fiancee, Britta Strahle who said the report was "monumental trash."

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 Although his granddaughters could not succeed to the throne, their grandfather, King Gustaf VI Adolf had hoped that they would make grand marriages.  On March 12, 1960, the King hosted a ball for his three eldest granddaughters,  Princess Margaretha, 25, Princess Birgitta, 23, and 21-year-old Princess Desiree.

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The guest list included Europe's most eligible young royals including  Crown Prince Constantine of the Hellenes, 19, Crown Prince Harald of Norway, 23, former King Simeon of Bulgaria, 22,  Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, 24 and several German princes, Prince Ludwig of Baden, Duke Max in Bavaria, Prince Moritz and Prince Kark of Hesse, Count Hans-Veit of Toerring-Jettenbach and Kraft, Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, who ranged in age from 23 to 34.

Queen Frederika of the Hellenes was invited to the ball along with her two eligible daughters, Princess Sophie, 21, and Princess Irene, 17.  They were joined by 19-year-old Princess Margrethe, 19 and 22-year-old Princess Beatrix, the heirs to the Danish and Dutch thrones,  Beatrix was accompanied by her younger sister,  Princess Irene.  The other three princesses were Astrid of Norway, 28, Princess Alexandra of Kent, 25, and Princess Beatrix of Hohenlohe-Langenburg, 23. 

Princess Birgitta met her future husband, HSH Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016) at a cocktail party in Germany where she was visiting family.   Their engagement was announced on December 15, 1960.  

Marlene A Eilers Koenig Collection

The prince was a younger son of Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern and Princess Margarete of Saxony.

At the time of her engagement, the princess was a gymnastic teacher and fencer.  Only a few days before the engagement was announced Birgitta was a member of the team that won the Swedish women's foil championship.

Marlene A Eilers Koenig Collection

Marlene A Eilers Koenig Collection

The couple was married first in a civil ceremony, which took place on May 25, 1961, in the Royal Palace's Hall of State.  Stockholm's mayor officiated at the ceremony.  750 guests attended the ceremony. 

Princess Birgitta, then 24, looked  "radiant in a dress of ivory-colored duchess and a veil of tulle."

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 The gown had a thirteen-foot train and she wore a "cameo and diamond" tiara, once worn by Queen Josephine.

 Prince Johann Georg was nearing the completion of a Ph.D. in art history and archeology in Munich, where the couple lived after their marriage.   One of the two groomsmen was the bride's 15-year-old brother, Crown Prince Carl Gustaf.

Lady Patricia Ramsay and her husband, Admiral Sir Alexander were the only British guests at the wedding.  Lady Lady was the younger sister of Birgitta's paternal grandmother, Princess Margaret of Connaught, who died in 1920.

After the ceremony, the bride and groom got into a carriage and were driven through central Stockholm "in brilliant sunshine and were greeted by large and enthusiastic crowds."

King Gustaf VI Adolf, the bride's grandfather, and his wife, Queen Louise hosted a luncheon in the palace for 270 guests.

The wedding festivities moved to Sigmaringen, Germany where on the evening of May 29, a gala ball was held in honor of Princess Birgitta and Prince Johann Georg. The religious wedding took place at the Church of St John in Sigmaringen on May 30.  Prince Johann Georg was Roman Catholic so the religious wedding took place in a Roman Catholic church.  Birgitta, a Lutheran, agreed to raise their children in the Catholic faith.   She applied to convert but her application was rejected because officials were not convinced of her spiritual commitment to joining the Church.

The bride was given away by her uncle, Prince Bertil, who represented King Gustaf VI Adolf.  She wore a Swedish-made white gown and the veil was held in place by a diamond tiara belonging to the princely family.

The couple settled into a home in the Grünewald section of Munich, where they raised three children, Carl (1962), Désirée (1963), and Hubertus (1966).  

Marlene A Eilers Koenig Collection

Marlene A Eilers Koenig Collection

Marlene A Eilers Koenig Collection

Marlene A Eilers Koenig Collection

  Princess Birgitta and her husband separated in 1990, although they never divorced. She moved to Majorca where she indulged in her favorite hobby, golf.  She has her own course and competition, the Princess Birgitta Trophy.   

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KM said...

Princess Alice or her family didn't attend Birgitta's the wedding? I thought she was close with her brother's family.

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

she did attend Desiree's wedding.

Monkmkd said...

Why is Princess Birgitta listed as member of the Royal House and the other 3 sisters as members of the Royal Family? (at least on Wikipedia which states it is sourced from the Royal Court) thanks in advance

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

Because she married another royal. The other three sisters did not so they lost their HRH and title Princess of Sweden when they married commoners or in Desiree's case, a Swedish nobleman. None never had succession rights, however

Marlene Eilers Koenig said...

I wrote about in 2010