From Swansea to Sweden
She was one of the Swedish Royal Family’s much loved and well respected royal ladies. Yet her own life, and her romance with one of Sweden’s Prince’s was a love she had to wait 33 years to solemnize in marriage.
She was born Lilian May Davies on 30th August 1915, in Swansea, Wales. Having first been a maid (with shades of Downton Abbey coming to mind) and later a fashion model for magazines including VOGUE. She was first married to actor Ivan Davies, (which ended in divorce.) It also saw her work briefly in a factory making radios for the marines during that marriage.
It was while she was still married to Ivan that she met Bertil at a London nightclub "Les Ambassadeurs". She dined with him, and very soon fell in love with him. Prince Bertil of Sweden was the third son of King Gustav VI. It was a clandestine love affair at first, yet a love affair that would see the couple unable to marry for a long time. She was a Divorced Commoner, and he was a man dedicated to duty. He had already a Brother, Sigvard, who had married a Commoner, so didn’t want to anger his father, the King, any further.
Bertil’s elder brother Gustav Adolf, had died in a plane crash, and it was decided if anything should happen to King Gustav, that Bertil should act as Regent to the heir to the throne, his Brother’s young son Carl Gustav. The King as it happened lived a long life. Out of respect to him, Bertil and Lilian chose to live together, but not as husband and wife. Making their home in France.
In 1973, the King died, and the present King of Sweden, Carl Gustav, ascended the throne. Three years later Lilian and Bertil were married, on the 7th December 1976. Now living in Sweden, and with the blessing of the new King and Queen, Lilian became a royal bride at 61 years of age.
Bertil died in 1997, and three years later Lilian published her memoirs of her time with the man she waited 33 years to marry.
Lilian died herself in 2013 at the age of 97 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Her life with the Prince had been one of love and dedication. Seeing her fulfill royal duties and becoming a ‘Queen Mother’ figure of Sweden.
Her life is currently being celebrated in an exhibition at the Royal Palace in Sweden, entitled ‘The Lilian Look’ showcasing a display of some of her iconic outfits.
It was a love affair that lasted through so many hurdles and one that unified love between two countries.
In her later life I corresponded with the Princess, and will treasure the cards and letters she sent.
A Commoner who became Princess Lilian from the Valleys.
(C) Paul Ratcliffe 2015
Photographs were sourced online - No copyright details were obtainable to credit the photographers.