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October 26, 2016 | Indianapolis, IN
STOCKHOLM (AP) — Welsh-born Princess Lilian of Sweden, whose decades-long love story with the king's uncle was one of the better kept secrets of the royal household, died Sunday. She was 97.
A brief statement on the Royal Palace's website said Lilian died at her home in Stockholm. It didn't give a cause of death, but Lilian suffered from Alzheimer's disease and had been in poor health for several years.
Lilian met Sweden's Prince Bertil already in 1943, but the prince's obligations to the throne and Lilian's status as a divorced commoner prevented them from making their love public, and it would take more than 30 years before they could marry. The couple's sacrifices and lifelong dedication to one another gripped the hearts of Swedes. Their story has been described as one of the most touching royal romances of our time.
"If I were to sum up my life, everything has been about my love," the witty, petite princess said of her husband when she turned 80 in 1995. "He's a great man, and I love him."
Born Lilian Davies in Swansea, Wales, on Aug. 30, 1915, the charming blue-eyed beauty moved to London as a 16-year-old to embark on a career as a model and an actress, showcasing hats and gloves in commercials and taking on small roles in movies. She met British actor Ivan Craig, whom she married in 1940.
After World War II broke out, Craig was drafted into the British army while Lilian stayed behind in London, working at a factory making radio sets for the British merchant fleet and serving at a hospital for wounded soldiers.
At the time, Prince Bertil was stationed at the Swedish Embassy in the British capital as a naval attache. The couple first laid eyes on each other in the fancy nightclub Les Ambassadeurs shortly before Lilian's 28th birthday in 1943. Lilian then invited him to a cocktail party in her London apartment. But it wasn't until he fetched her with his car following an air raid in her neighborhood that the romance blossomed, Lilian recalled in her 2000 memoirs, "My Life with Prince Bertil."
"He was so handsome my prince. Especially in uniform. So charming and thoughtful. And so funny. Oh how we laughed together," Lilian wrote.
Lilian was still married at the time, but the situation resolved itself since Craig, too, had met someone else during his years abroad in the army, and the couple divorced on amicable terms.
Upon Bertil's return to Sweden, however, his relationship with a commoner became a delicate issue.
Bertil became a possible heir to the throne when his eldest brother died in a plane crash, leaving behind an infant son — the current King Carl XVI Gustaf. Two other brothers had dropped out of the line of succession by marrying commoners.
Bertil's father, King Gustaf VI Adolf, ordered him to abstain from marrying Lilian, since that would jeopardize the survival of the Bernadotte dynasty.
Instead, the couple let their romance flourish in an unofficial manner, living together in a common-law marriage for decades.
They first lived in their house in Sainte-Maxime in France, but later shared their time between the French village and Stockholm, where Lilian discreetly stayed in the background for years.
Despite the royal reluctance to recognize her officially, Lilian's charm and warm personality soon won the Swedes over, and magazines depicted the happy couple playing golf and riding around on the prince's motorbike. When Prince Bertil had to use a walking frame after an operation, she cheerfully nicknamed it his "Bugatti."
In 1976, some 33 years after they first met, the new king finally gave them the approval they had been waiting for.
On a cold December day the same year, Lilian, or "Lily" as the prince used to call her, became princess of Sweden and duchess of the southern province of Halland in a ceremony at the Drottningholm Palace Chapel just outside Stockholm. The bride had by then turned 61 and the groom 64.
The couple never had any children.
Prince Bertil died in the couple's residence Villa Solbacken in Stockholm in 1997 after unspecified lung problems.
Lilian took over some of her husband's duties, especially as an award presenter for various sports associations.
Health problems forced her to cut back on some of her royal duties. In 2006 she stopped attending the annual Nobel Prize banquet, and the next year she also stopped taking part in the award ceremony.
In 2010, the palace said Lilian suffered from Alzheimer's disease, preventing her from attending the wedding that summer of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling.
Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
October 26, 2016 | Indianapolis, IN
The family has my deepest sympathy for the loss of Princess Lilian. May all rely upon the Creator of Heaven and Earth to give you the needed comfort to help you endure the heart ache.
December 27, 2013 | TX
I would like to send my condoléances to Victoria's dad!!!
June 29, 2013 | Richmond Hill, ON
Rest In Peace
March 26, 2013
Och jag hörde en hög röst från tronen säga: ”Se! Guds tält är bland människorna, och han skall bo ibland dem, och de skall vara hans folk. Och Gud själv skall vara hos dem.Och han skall torka varje tår från deras ögon, och döden skall inte finnas mer; inte heller skall sorg eller skrik eller smärta finnas mer. Det som en gång var är borta.” Uppenbarelseboken 21:3,4
March 22, 2013
To the family and friends of Princess Lilian of Sweden-
You all have my deepest sympathy. She was a beautiful person with a loving heart. It is so comforting to know that our loving Heavenly Father will guard our hearts and give us the peace we need to cope with the pains of death. (Philippians 4:7).
March 17, 2013 | Cleveland, OH
R.I. P. PRINCESS
March 17, 2013
A beautiful, kind person. Your secret as a Princess was kept . You are in heaven watching over your family and continuing your Love Story. May God bless you.
March 16, 2013 | McAllen, TX
It is comforting to know that Jesus, the Ruler of God's Kingdom, is called the “Prince of Peace,” and he will ensure that “to peace there will be no end.”—Isaiah 9:6, 7.
March 14, 2013 | Clarkston, GA