The death of Princess Lilian of Sweden yesterday brings to a close one of the most extraordinary love stories of modern times.
Princess Lilian was born Lilian Davies in Swansea, Wales, in August 1915 and moved to London aged 16 to follow a modelling career. She was married to actor Ivan Craig when she met Prince Bertil of Sweden in London in 1943.
According to this excellent obituary in The Telegraph, the meeting was placed variously in a nightclub, a birthday party and, in the most romantic variation, on the London Underground subway system.
Marriage between Bertil, a noted playboy, and Lilian was not permitted owing to the strict rules of the Swedish royal house which stated that any royal who married a commoner renounced their rights to the throne, effectively dropping out of royal life.
Lilian and Bertil wete finally married in 1976, 33 years after they first met, following the death of his father, King Gustaf VI Adolf, who refused to give his blessing for the couple to get married.
The king feared that had Prince Bertil married a commoner, the royal dynasty's survival would be jeopardised.
Prince Bertil died aged 84 on January 5 1997, with Lilian at his side.
When asked for the secret of her own longevity, and she replied: “I think that the work – and laughter – keeps me somewhat young in mind. I don’t do gymnastics or exercise. But I do feel the same wish to help as my husband did.”