The Swedish Royal Court has released a statement that Princess Lilian has died at the age of 97. The former Vogue model was married to actor Ivan Craig when she met Prince Bertil, uncle to Sweden’s current king, in 1943.
The two soon became lovers and Lilian (born Lilian May Davies, in Wales) divorced her husband in 1945. But she and Bertil could not marry at the time because royal succession rules did not permit a contender for the throne to marry a commoner.
Because Prince Bertil’s two brothers had already renounced their right to the throne by marrying commoners and his older brother, Crown Prince Gustaf Adolph, died in a plane crash, Bertil and Lilian chose to live discreetly together in the South of France so that Bertil could act as Regent to King Carl XVI Gustaf, who was less than a year old when his father was killed.
By the time Carl XVI Gustaf took the throne in 1973, he too was married to a commoner and the rules had been amended, so Bertil and Lilian were permitted to marry 33 years after they first met. They were together until his death in 1997 at the age of 84. The couple never had children.
Swedish Prime Minister Reinfeldt says in a statement, “It is with sorrow that I have learnt that H.R.H. Princess Lilian is dead. A much loved and appreciated member of the royal family has now passed away.”