Royal Wedding Dresses: Princess Lilian of Sweden

Let's take a break from Windsor Wedding Dresses for just a moment (you can catch the ones featured so far again here if you need another fix) and focus on a gown that starred in one of the most romantic royal marriages of the 20th century. Forty one years ago today, Prince Bertil of Sweden married Lilian Craig, nee Davies, and set the seal on a love story that has its own place in royal history. As we remember this pair of stylish love birds, here's a look back at the wedding dress Lilian wore when she finally got to wed her handsome prince...

Finally is the big word there because this wedding dress was decades in the making. Lilian Craig met Prince Bertil during World War Two and after that conflict ended, their minds turned to marriage. But Lilian, a divorcee with no royal blood, didn't exactly tick all the boxes on the still strict list of who to marry that floated round the Swedish Royal Court at the time. Besides, the Swedish succession was in a bit of a pickle. Only men could succeed. Two of Bertil's brothers had already given up their rights while his older brother, Gustaf Adolf, was killed in a plane accident in 1947 leaving a nine month old son and four daughters. Bertil knew his marriage to Lilian could leave his monarchy rather vulnerable. So the pair lived together and put weddings on ice.

Until 1976. That nine month old boy had grown up to be King Carl XVI Gustaf who wasn't just devoted to his dutiful uncle, he was set on changing royal rules, too. Carl Gustaf married Silvia Sommerlath, his own non royal bride, in June 1976 and was in the front row on December 7th that year when Bertil and Lilian did their own 'I doing' at the Chapel at Drottningholm Palace. The bride wore blue, a rather clever choice really as brides had been using the shade for centuries before the 19th century vogue for white. It also provided a nod to the country she had come to call home as the shade dominates the Swedish flag. The dress itself was designed by Elizabeth Wondrak and made of shantung silk. It's very simple and very seventies, with bell sleeves and a sleek silhuouette fanning out into a flared skirt. Lilian, a bit of a style icon, chose a feathered hat rather than anything sparkly for her hair, and added some rather classy pearls to complete the look. The style icon who won the heart of a prince was finally a princess herself and her first outfit as a fully fledged royal was well worth that (very long) wait.