Thursday, 19 January 2017

Eight decades, eight images: Princess Birgitta of Sweden

Princess Birgitta of Sweden is eighty today
(photo Surtsicna via Wiki Commons)

The second of the Haga princesses turns eighty today. It's a big birthday for Sweden's Princess Birgitta who was born on January 19th 1937, a great granddaughter to the then king, Gustav V, and whose life since then has taken in many moments of royal history. As she celebrates eight decades, here's a look back at her story so far. Eight images for Birgitta, Princess of Sweden.

Birgitta Ingeborg Alice of Sweden was born at the Haga Palace in Stockholm to Prince Gustav Adolf and his wife, Princess Sybilla. She was their second daughter and like big sister, Margareta, had no succession rights. Her father was the eldest son of the eldest son of the King of Sweden and in line one day to inherit the throne. This photo is the first official portrait of Birgitta, all bright eyes and wonder on February 24th 1937 as she marked her first month.

Princess Birgitta was joined by two more sisters, Desiree and Christina, before baby brother, Carl Gustaf, arrived in April 1946. The only one of the five siblings with any right to the throne, he became even more important at the age of just nine months when the children's father, Prince Gustav Adolf, was killed in a plane crash. Birgitta was just ten when she lost her father. She is seen here the summer after Gustav Adolf's death with her mother and great grandfather, King Gustav V.

 Birgitta's great grandfather died in 1950, meaning her grandfather was now King Gustaf VI Adolf - her brother, four year old Carl Gustaf, became Crown Prince of Sweden. Along with her sisters, she took on roles in Swedish royal life as they all got older - here Birgitta is seen with her mother, sister Margaretha and step grandmother, Queen Louise, as well as grandpapa at the opening of Sweden's parliament in 1956.

Birgitta, like her sisters, was among the most eligible princesses in Europe and as the 1960s got under way, she was linked to royal grooms including the Shah of Persia. She became a familiar face in magazines and newspapers with portraits like this one showing her developing her own, inimitable style.

Birgitta was the only one of the four Haga princesses to marry someone with a royal title. In May 1961, she married Prince Johan Georg of Hohenzollern in sparkling ceremonies in Sweden and Germany with her sister, Christina, and Princess Benedikte of Denmark among the bridesmaids. Birgitta converted to Catholicism on her marriage.

Birgitta and her husband had three children together - Carl Christian was born in April 1962, Desiree arrived in November 1963 and Hubertus completed the family in June 1966. Birgitta is seen here with her children and husband at the time of her youngest son's birth. She and Johan Georg would later separate although they always remained married. He died in 2016.

 Her role in Swedish royal life gradually faded as she brought up her family, living in Germany. Her brother became King of Sweden in 1973 and his marriage to Silvia Sommerlath in 1976 brought in a new royal family. Birgitta has lived in Mallorca for several years now and has her own golf tournament there, reflecting her passion for the sport.

Princess Birgitta of Sweden and of Hohenzollern is a familiar face at family events, attending the weddings of her nieces and nephew in recent years. She is clearly close to her sisters and brother and they are celebrating her birthday in Stockholm tonight. It's eight decades since her arrival as the second of the Haga princesses but the close bond forged between the five children of Gustaf Adolf and Sybilla remains clear as Birgitta of Sweden celebrates her 80th birthday.

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