Swedish Princess Dies: Lilian Kept Romance Secret For 33 Years

A Swedish princess died on Sunday at age 97 after spending three decades of her life keeping secret her romance with a royal lover.

Princess Lilian was a commoner, born Lilian Davies to a working class family in August 1915. She met Prince Bertil of Sweden during World War II and fell in love, but the circumstances surrounding her background and his lineage to the throne prevented them from marrying.

Lilian moved to London at age 16 to start a career as a model and actress, taking small roles in movies. There she met British actor Ivan Craig, and they married in 1940.

When World War II broke out, Craig was drafted into the British army, and Lilian went to work in a factory in London where she made radio sets. In London, she met Prince Bertil, who was stationed at the Swedish Embassy as a naval attache.

After the Second World War 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.

“He was so handsome my prince. Especially in uniform. So charming and thoughtful. And so funny. Oh how we laughed together,” Lilian wrote of their encounter.

Her marriage with Ivan Craig ended soon after, and she and Bertil became lovers.

But they could not be married. Princess Lilian was a divorcee, and Prince Bertil kept his the romance with his Swedish princess a secret because of his lineage to the throne. His older brother and heir to the throne, Prince Gustaf Adolf, died in a plane crash in 1947. The next brother in line, Sigvard, waived his right to the throne when he married a commoner.

Had Prince Bertil made it known that he too married a commoner, his infant nephew would have been the next in line. It likely would have caused a constitutional crisis in Sweden if the romance was made known.

Prince Bertil and Princess Lilian were able to finally get married and make their love known after the crown prince became king in 1973 and later became married.

After the Swedish princess died, the Swedish royal family issued a statement grieving her passing.

Though the couple waited more than three decades to marry, they were still very much in love. During an interview at the time of their wedding, Prince Bertil said he regretted having to wait so long to get married.

“That is something that is rather sad,” he said, turning to Lilian and adding: “After all, we are still very happy, aren’t we?”

“Very, very happy” Lilian replied.

The Swedish princess died in her sleep at her home in Stockholm, the Swedish royal family noted. Before she died, members of the royal family visited to make their farewells.