Prince Bertil in 1964. Photo: Kungahuset.se.
The young prince was born and brought up in a family full of heritage and traditions. His father was successor to the Swedish throne and his mother the granddaughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. The Crown Prince family was also in many respects a modern family. One example of this was the fact that the nursery was located right next to the parental bedroom, and that Prince Bertil's mother regarded it as her principal duty to take care of, and see to the needs of her children herself. In the mass media of the time, Crown Princess Margareta was portrayed as the ideal image of the good mother, and the family symbolised healthy family life in the Kingdom of Sweden. Prince Bertil lost his mother at the age of eight when Crown Princess Margareta died suddenly in 1920.
His schooldays involved a great deal of sport, and at the age of sixteen the prince won, among other things, ice-skating competitions for Swedish school pupils. The headline in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter read "Royal record in speed skating contest for school pupils". Prince Bertil skated 500 metres in 52.9 seconds. This paved the way for a life-long commitment to Swedish sport and Bertil became the sport prince, who in 1947 was elected Chairman of both the Swedish Sports Confederation and Sweden's Olympic Committee.
Prince Bertil was trained as an officer in the Swedish Navy and for part of the Second World War he served as Swedish naval attaché at the embassy in London. It was during this period that the prince met his future wife, Mrs Lilian Craig. The prince's life changed dramatically after peace was declared in 1945. In 1947, his older brother Gustaf Adolf died in a plane crash. Prince Bertil's grandfather King Gustaf V died in autumn 1950 and his father then became King Gustaf VI Adolf. The new Crown Prince, the current King Carl XVI Gustaf, was just four years old at the time. Prince Bertil was second in line to the throne after the young crown prince. Back then, Sweden's constitution did not allow a prince to marry, as the law expressed it, the daughter of a commoner. It was not until after the succession of our current King that Prince Bertil was able to marry while retaining his position as Prince of Sweden. The wedding took place on 7 December 1976, and Mrs Craig became Princess Lilian.
Prince Bertil was chiefly a travelling goodwill ambassador for Sweden. He referred to himself as a travelling salesman for Sweden Ltd. A considerable number of industrial delegations on missions around the world were led by the prince. His representative capacity, combined with his natural approach and charm opened many doors for these delegations.
Prince Bertil died in 1997.
Prince Bertil's royal burial site, which is situated in Haga Park, is open to the public on Tuesday 28 February, 10.00 a.m.—4.00 p.m.
A major exhibition on Prince Bertil will be opened at the Royal Palace on 6 June 2012.