Lilian Craig, a Welsh-born actress who ended up a Swedish princess, died in Stockholm on Sunday at age 97.
She was the romantic companion for decades of Sweden’s Prince Bertil but he was forbidden from marrying her because she was a commoner. The two finally wed him in 1973 when they were both in their 60s.
“If I were to sum up my life, everything has been about love,” she once said.
She was born Lillian May Davies in Swansea, Wales, and moved to London at age 14 to work as a model, singer, actress and dancer (at which time, she dropped the second of the middle L’s from her name). She met the prince in 1943, when he was based at the Swedish Embassy in London. An obituary in the New York Times quotes her as writing, in her 2000 memoir, My Life with Prince Bertil, of their first meeting: “He was so handsome, my prince. Especially in uniform. So charming and thoughtful. And so funny.”
The two wed in 1976, following the death of King Gustav VI, Bertil’s father, and the ascension to the throne of Prince Carl Gustaf, who was Bertil’s nephew. Prince Bertil died in 1997.
Here’s a BBC TV report on her death, which includes nifty old archival film footage and photos.