Princess Birgitta in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, 1999.
Photo (c) Getty Images / Gianni Ferrari.

Today, Princess Birgitta of Sweden celebrates her eighty-fifth birthday.

Princess Sibylle of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha and Prince Gustaf Adolf of Sweden on their wedding day at Coburg, 1932.
Princess Birgitta at a little over one month old.
Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla with their eldest daughter Princess Margaretha and their infant daughter Princess Birgitta, Haga, April 1937.

Born on 19 January 1937 at Haga, Princess Birgitta Ingeborg Alice of Sweden was the second daughter and child of Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten (1906-1947), and Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (1908-1972), who married in 1932. Birgitta’s paternal grandparents were King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden (1882-1973) and his first wife Princess Margaret of Connaught (1882-1920). Her maternal grandparents were Duke Carl Eduard of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1884-1954) and his wife Princess  Viktoria Adelheid of Schleswig-Holstein (1885-1970).

Princess Margaretha, Princess Birgitta, Princess Désirée, and Princess Christina of Sweden, 1945.
Photo (c) Getty Images / Hulton Deutsch.
Six month old Prince Carl Gustaf of Sweden, the future King, 1946.
Photo (c) Getty Images / Bettmann.

Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla of Sweden had five children, four daughters and one son: Princess Margaretha (b.1934), Princess Birgitta (b.1937), Princess Désirée (b.1938), Princess Christina (b.1943), and Prince Carl Gustaf (b.1946). In January 1947, Prince Gustaf Adolf was killed when the Royal Dutch Airlines DS-3 aircraft on which the prince was a passenger crashed in Copenhagen shortly after its take-off for Stockholm. The prince had been a hunting guest of Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. American soprano Grace Moore was one of the other twenty-plus victims of the plane crash.

Princess Birgitta in 1960.
Photo (c) Getty Images / Rolls Press / Popperfoto.

In the late 1950s, Princess Birgitta was a student at the Kungliga Gymnastiska Centralinstitutet (Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences) in Stockholm. Through her studies at the school, the princess became a trained gymnast and also an instructor in the sport. In 1958, Birgitta taught gymnastics to students at the Broms School in Stockholm. 

Princess Birgitta and Prince Johann Georg when their engagement was announced, 1960.
Photo (c) Getty Images / Keystone.

On 15 December 1960, the Swedish royal court announced the engagement of Princess Birgitta of Sweden and Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932-2016). The prince and princess met in 1959 at a cocktail party during a skiing holiday in Germany. Johann Georg was the son of Fürst Friedrich of Hohenzollern (1891-1965) and Princess Margrethe of Saxony (1900-1962). Birgitta and Johann Georg were fifth cousins; both were descendants of Duke Franz of Sachsen-Saalfeld-Coburg and his second wife Countess Auguste Reuss zu Lobenstein und Ebersdorf. 

The wedding day of Birgitta and Johann Georg, 1961.
Photo (c) Getty Images / Keystone-France.

On 25 May 1961, Princess Birgitta and Prince Johann Georg took part in their civil marriage at the Royal Palace in Stockholm; Mayor Yngve Kristensson joined the prince and princess in matrimony. The simple ceremony lasted for only two minutes, but it was attended by 750 guests and televised. On 30 May, the couple celebrated their religious wedding at Sigmaringen, which was presided over by Father Benedict Rith.  

Prince Johann Georg and Princess Birgitta with their three children: Prince Carl Christian, Princess Désirée, and baby Prince Hubertus, 1966.
Photo (c) Getty Images / Keystone-France.

Princess Birgitta and Prince Johann Georg had three children: Prince Carl Christian (b.1962; married Nicole Neschitsch), Princess Désirée (b.1963; married firstly to Hereditary Count Heinrich zu Ortenburg; married secondly to Eckbert von Bohlen und Halbach), and Prince Hubertus (b.1966; married Ute Maria König). Princess Birgitta has five grandchildren.

Princess Birgitta and Prince Johann Georg at the celebration of the prince’s 50th birthday, 1982.
Photo (c) Getty Images / United Archives.
Princess Birgitta and Prince Johann Georg eventually quietly separated, though never legally, and they never divorced. Princess Birgitta preferred the warmer climate of Palma de Mallorca, Spain, where she could pursue her interest in golf; while Prince Johann Georg, an art historian, continued to reside in Germany. 
Princess Birgitta departing the funeral of her husband, 2016.
Photo (c) Getty Images / Picture Alliance.


Prince Johann Georg of Hohenzollern died on 2 March 2016, aged eighty-three. Johann Georg and Birgitta had been married for fifty-four years. The princess remains close to her family in Sweden. Princess Birgitta attended the 2010 wedding of her niece Crown Princess Victoria to Daniel Westling, the 2013 wedding of her niece Princess Madeleine to Christopher O’Neill, and the 2015 wedding of her nephew Prince Carl Philip to Sofia Hellqvist.
Our congratulations to Princess Birgitta on her birthday!

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