March 16, 2013 / 3:08 PM / 6 years ago

Sweden holds state funeral for Princess Lilian

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Princess Lilian, the Welsh-born beauty who married into Sweden’s royal family after a 33-year secret romance with a prince, was buried after a state funeral on Saturday.

Members of the Royal Guard hold wreaths in front of the coffin of Sweden's British-born Princess Lilian after her funeral service in the Royal Chapel of the Royal Palace of Stockholm, March 16. REUTERS/Jonas Ekstromer/Scanpix

Lilian, who died on March 10 at the age of 97, was laid to rest in the royal cemetery in Haga Park on the outskirts of the Swedish capital.

Lilian met Sweden’s Prince Bertil during World War Two in London. She was working in a factory making radios for the Royal Navy and he was a naval attache.

The pair lived together for more than three decades but were unable to marry until 1976 as she was divorced and a commoner, and marriage would have led to a constitutional crisis in Sweden.

When Gustav Adolf, Sweden’s heir to the throne and Bertil’s older brother, died in a plane crash in 1947 the next in line was the infant Crown Prince Carl Gustaf. Another brother, Sigvard, had waived his right to the throne by marrying a commoner.

That left Bertil a likely regent until Carl Gustaf came of age. Had Bertil married Lillian, he would have lost his place in the line of succession.

Carl Gustaf acceded to the Swedish throne as King Carl XVI Gustaf in 1973 and in 1976 married Silvia Sommerlath, also a commoner. He approved Bertil and Lilian’s marriage, which took place just months after his own.

Princess Lilian, born Lilian Davies in Swansea, Wales in 1915, was a popular member of Sweden’s royal family, which enjoys strong public support despite the Scandinavian nation’s egalitarian culture.

A former fashion model, Lilian was active until just a few years before death and, like her husband, had a keen interest in sports. Prince Bertil died in 1997.

“She was a true bringer of happiness and had the ability always to create around her a warm and kind atmosphere,” the King said in a statement at her death.

“The family’s children always appreciated her jokes and humorous ways.”

Reporting by Simon Johnson; Editing by Roger Atwood

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