Skip to main content

Sweden's Princess Lilian dies at the age of 97

By Peter Shadbolt, CNN
updated 12:20 PM EDT, Mon March 11, 2013
Click through to see<a href='http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/world/obituaries-2013'> people who passed away</a> in 2013. Click through to see people who passed away in 2013.
HIDE CAPTION
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
People we lost in 2013
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54
55
56
57
58
59
60
61
62
63
64
65
66
67
68
69
70
71
72
73
74
75
76
77
78
79
80
81
82
83
84
85
86
87
88
89
90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
100
101
102
103
104
105
106
107
108
109
110
111
112
113
114
115
116
117
118
119
120
121
122
123
124
125
126
127
128
129
130
131
132
133
134
135
136
137
138
139
140
141
142
143
144
145
146
147
148
149
150
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Princess Lilian dies in Stockholm at the age of 97
  • Born in Wales, the divorcee married Prince Bertil in 1976
  • Due to succession problems, the couple waited three decades to get married
  • She was the oldest member of the Swedish Royal family at the time of her death

(CNN) -- Sweden's Princess Lilian, the Welsh-born model who lived with her lover Prince Bertil for 30 years before they were married, has died at the age of 97, the Swedish Royal Court said in a statement.

"It is with sorrow that I have learnt that H.R.H. (Her Royal Highness) Princess Lilian is dead," Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said in a statement.

"A much loved and appreciated member of the royal family has now passed away," he added.

Born in 1915 in Swansea, Wales, Lilian May Davies was a Vogue model and married to British actor Ivan Craig when she first met Prince Bertil, the current king's uncle, in 1943.

Then engaged in wartime work making radios for the Royal Navy, she reportedly met Prince Bertil at a cocktail party for her 28th birthday. Reports about their first meeting vary, with some saying they met at a nightclub called Nuthouse while others that they met on the London Underground.

A much loved and appreciated member of the royal family has now passed away
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt

The two soon became lovers and she divorced her husband in 1945.

However, due to Sweden's strict royal succession rules -- which at the time did not permit a contender for the throne to marry a commoner -- King Gustav VI Adolph (the current king's grandfather) would not give his blessing to the union.

Prince Bertil's two brothers had already renounced their right to the throne by marrying commoners and the only heir, his older brother Crown Prince Gustaf Adolph, died in a plane crash in 1947.

With a strong possibility that Prince Bertil would have to act as Regent to the present King Carl XVI Gustaf, who was less than a year old when his father was killed, the couple did not marry. Instead, they lived together discreetly in a villa in the South of France.

By the time King Carl XVI Gustaf took the throne in 1973, times had changed. He himself was married to a commoner and the couple were finally permitted to marry 33 years after they first met, on December 7, 1976 at Drottningholm Palace Chapel.

Prince Bertil was popular in Sweden where he was dubbed "Prince Charming" by the media for his long romance with Lilian. He died in 1997 aged 84 with Lilian at his bedside.

Princess Lilian remained active in public life until her early 90s, attending the Nobel Prize ceremonies adorned in royal jewels. In 2005, at the age of 91, she stopped attending the ceremony, citing her advanced years.

In 2010, she withdrew from public life suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The couple never had children.

She was the oldest member of the Swedish royal family at the time of her death and, despite the problems that led her to wait more than 30 years to get married, was a fully integrated member of the Swedish Royal family.

People we've lost in 2013: The lives they lived

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS' Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group.
updated 1:00 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
China's Xi Jinping and India's Narendra Modi, leaders of the most populous nations face similar challenges. Can they learn from each other?
updated 6:36 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
The U.S. is not returning combat troops to Iraq, President Barack Obama insists.
updated 8:38 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
A man abducted alongside killed U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff tells CNN that no one from the U.S. government has tried to talk with him.
updated 11:08 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mulatu Astatke is the founding father of ethio-jazz: a fusion of Ethiopian music with western jazz.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Have you been to these? The global museum list, released Tuesday, ranks 25 of the world's best museums.
updated 1:03 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
iOS 8, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, comes with new features that you'll enjoy.
updated 5:27 AM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Psychedelic drugs are being researched as a potential treatment for conditions ranging from anxiety to tobacco and alcohol addiction.
updated 9:42 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
It's a surfer's paradise -- but Diah Rahayu is out on her own when it comes to professional women's wave-riding in Bali.
updated 10:09 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Even death couldn't part two skeletons excavated from a lost chapel in an English county, found with their fingers entwined.
updated 12:20 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT