- (Photo: Reuters/Janerik Henriksson/Scanpix)
Swedish Princess Lillian has died at the age of 97, the Swedish Royal Court has announced in a statement.
Lillian was born in Wales and worked as a "Vogue" model before marrying Ivan Craig, a British actor. However, she later met Prince Bertil, the king's uncle, at a cocktail party for her 28th birthday in 1943, and the two quickly became intimate. Two years later she divorced Craig.
Prince Bertil wanted to marry Lillian but was not permitted to do so under Sweden's rules of succession. Like many other countries, heirs to the throne were not to marry commoners and risked giving up their claim if they did so. Bertil's brothers renounced their royal claims to the throne by marrying commoners, and his older brother was killed in a plane crash.
Bertil was scheduled to act as Regent to King Carl XVI Gustaf, who was less than one year old when his father was killed. He and Lillian did not marry but remained together and lived together in the South of France. By the time King Gustaf took the throne in 1973, he decided to change the rules and married a commoner.
Lillian and Bertil were allowed to marry 33 years after they first met, and the couple remained together until his death in 1997. She was by his bedside when he passed away at age 84.
"If I were to sum up my life, everything has been about my love," Lillian told the press in 1995. "He's a great man, and I love him."
She wrote about her love affair in her memoirs, "My Life with Prince Bertil," published in 2000.
"He was so handsome, my prince… especially in uniform. So charming and thoughtful and so funny. Oh how we laughed together," she wrote.
According to reports, Lillian began to withdraw from public appearances in 2005, starting with the annual Nobel Prize ceremonies. Then, in 2010, she withdrew altogether after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.